"A Sun that Leaves No Shadows": Camus's Philosophy in Fiction




Erickson, Jodi

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Camus’s monograph The Myth of Sisyphus, novel The Stranger, and play Caligula were written and published in the same period of his life, between 1942 and 1945. Though they were published separately, Camus created these works to serve as companions to one another; he referred to them collectively as “the Absurds.” Drawing from this declared relation, I analyze each work as a manifestation of a central philosophy. I identify the ideas that each instantiation of the Absurds presents most clearly, especially within the context of the instantiation’s formal qualities; I perform this investigation first individually—without the context of the other works—then jointly, finally culminating in a conjoined analysis of how all three works function in tandem. Upon analysis, Camus’s Absurds develop into a singular thesis of ethics based on an understanding of the aesthetic value of Nature over Artifice; these works rely on naturalistic metaphor to establish and communicate ethics in the face of the Absurd, which many take as negating Truth. Camus argues that “‘everything is permitted’ does not mean that nothing is forbidden.” He presents Nature as the guide for determining the designations.



Camus, Literary analysis, Philosophy, Fiction, Ethics, Nature, Aesthetics, Absurdism