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Before her the stars were falling one by one and being snuffed out among the stones of the desert, and each time Janine opened a little more to the night.Breathing deeply, she forgot the cold, the dead weight of others, the craziness or stuffiness of life, the long anguish of living and dying.Camus had a kind of gift for making everything he wrote seem pregnant with meaning, with allegory or symbolism.But the obvious level of meaning is, here, also the most powerful.For example, the early idea of the Absurd, which he developed in the 1930s/early 1940s drops away and is replaced by the more wide-ranging, richer idea of ‘exile’. The philosophical or maybe which deals with Nietzsche: From the moment that man believes neither in God nor in immortal life, he becomes ‘responsible for everything alive, for everything that, born of suffering, is condemned to suffer from life.’ It is he, and he alone, who must discover law and order. ’ All these forms of exiles are looking, in their different ways, for ‘the kingdom’, real or imaginary, which they can return to, where they will finally feel ‘at home’, where exile will end, where values and meaning, love and security, will be found. Her life became entombed in the shuttered apartment above the shop.Then the time of exile begins, the endless search for justification, the aimless nostalgia, ‘the most painful, the most heartbreaking question, that of the heart which asks itself: where can I feel at home? And there is a third sense of exile, biographically specific to Camus, whose life was stricken when his homeland, Algeria, rose up in revolt against French colonialism and the untroubled paradise of his boyhood memories ceased to exist, becoming instead a site of murder and torture, which it was now very dangerous to return to. This polarity, this tension, this His love made her real. After the war Marcel wanted to expand his sales to ‘the villages of the Upper Plateaus and of the South’, and that is why she is sitting jammed up next to him on the hard seat of a filthy local bus bumping its way through a sandstorm on the edge of the desert in the freezing cold.He is reduced to a condition of complete animality.On one occasion a native woman enters and apparently offers herself to him sexually, which he is beginning to act on when the Sorcerer and other tribesmen enter, beat him up and then tear out his tongue, making him pass out with pain.
Here he was captured by brutal, pagan ‘natives’ who tortured and beat him.
All this is being narrated as flashbacks from a ‘present’ in which he is lying in wait for a missionary.
He heard, from his prison inside the House of the Fetish, French voices, apparently two army officers explaining that they are going to garrison twenty men outside the village to guarantee the safety of a Christian missionary who is on his way.
It is the dramatic soliloquy of a man who’s gone mad.
He was a not very bright student at a theological seminary. He had a personal mission/obsession with suffering, with undergoing ‘the offence’ all the better to demonstrate to the heathen how superior his God was, how it enabled him to turn the other cheek, and so on.