On 13 May 1958 a French military junta seized power in Algiers. Choreographed by Jacques Soustelle, the French governor-general of Algeria, in a deliberate plan to bring down the French government, the putsch led to the return to power of Charles de Gaulle, the collapse of the Fourth Republic, and, after four more years of anguish and prolific bloodshed, the end of the colonial war that France had been fighting in Algeria since 1954. At the time of the coup, Albert Camus, who six months earlier had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, was about to publish the third volume of his political essays (Actuelles), under the title Chroniques algériennes, 1939–1958. The events made him hesitate, but, hoping to contribute to a future ‘in which France, wholeheartedly embracing its tradition of liberty, does justice to all the communities of Algeria without discrimination’, he determined to proceed with publication.
Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Algerian Chronicles' by Albert Camus
A document lived in real time
by Albert Camus (edited by Alice Kaplan and translated by Arthur Goldhammer)
Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $29.95 hb, 232 pp, 9780674072589
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Colin Nettelbeck is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne, where he held the A.R. Chisholm Chair of French. He taught previously at the University of California (Berkeley) and Monash University. He has written extensively about twentieth-century and contemporary French literature, cinema, and cultural history, with special focus on the French experience of World War II. His most recent book is Dancing with de Beauvoir: Jazz and the French, published by Melbourne University Press in 2004. His essay ‘Kneecapper: a Trip to Happiness’ (published in the Autumn 2011 Meanjin Quarterly) was shortlisted for the 2010 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay. He was awarded second prize in the 2012 Calibre Prize for ‘Now They’ve Gone’.
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