Algerian Chronicles by Albert Camus (edited by Alice Kaplan; translated by Arthur Goldhammer) - review by Andrew Hussey

Andrew Hussey

Stranger in His Own Land

Algerian Chronicles


Belknap Press/Harvard University Press 224pp £16.95

For a long time, the accepted wisdom on Albert Camus’s response to the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62) has been that he was a coward. This was the view first promulgated by his former friend and rival Jean-Paul Sartre, who accused Camus of having the ‘morality of a boy scout’ for refusing to praise the terrorist actions of the Algerian nationalists, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in 1957, Camus famously stated: ‘People are now planting bombs on the tramway of Algiers. My mother might be on one of those tramways. If that is justice, then I prefer my mother.’ Since then this impassioned statement has been held up by generations of anti-colonialists and academic post-colonialist theorists – including the likes of Edward Said – as proof of Camus’s weak-mindedness and vacillating nature and, by extension, colonial arrogance towards Algeria, the land where he was born and grew up in

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