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The stories of Exile and the Kingdom explore the dilemma of being an outsider – even in one’s own country – and of allegiance. With intense power and lyricism, Camus evokes beautiful but harsh landscapes, whether the shimmering deserts of his native Algeria or the wild, mysterious jungles of Brazil.
Here a Frenchwoman is gradually seduced by the sheer difference of North Africa, a mutilated renegade is driven mad by the cruelty of his own people, and a barrel-maker watches the slow decline of his craft. A kindly teacher must choose between the law and a life, while a modest painter is out of his depth in the hypocrisy of the art world, and a French engineer discovers a new sense of belonging in a distant land.
The Plague–written in 1947 and still profoundly relevant–is a riveting tale of horror, survival, and resilience in the face of a devastating epidemic. The Fall (1956), which takes the form of an astonishing confession by a French lawyer in a seedy Amsterdam bar, is a haunting parable of modern conscience in the face of evil. The six stories of Exile and the Kingdom (1957) represent Camus at the height of his narrative powers, masterfully depicting his characters–from a renegade missionary to an adulterous wife –at decisive moments of revelation. Set beside their fictional counterparts, Camus’s famous essays “The Myth of Sisyphus” and “Reflections on the Guillotine” are all the more powerful and philosophically daring, confirming his towering place in twentieth-century thought.