CORRESPONDENCE—Letter to a Friend

Tomoko Yoneda

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was born in French Algeria.

Camus, having lived in a period of intense social upheaval defining the 20th century, called two lands home: France and Algeria. Garnering acclaim for   his novel The Stranger (the U.S. version title, entitled The Outsider in the U.K.) and the depiction of the absurdities within, Camus would go on to shine as the youngest Nobel Prize winner of his era. At the age of 46, however, he would die unexpectedly in an automobile accident.

Throughout his works, Camus continuously maintained that human beings exist to rejoice in freedom, basking in equally in the gifts of light and nature – and that they are entitled to true dignity, free of violence.

The city of Algiers –  teeming with life – where  Camus spent his  childhood in poverty. The ruins of Tipaza, bordered by the sea and enveloped in light.   Le Chambon- sur- Lignon in the south of France – once a center of activity for the French Resistance movement during the German occupation. (While Camus was staying in Panelier, a small village and suburb of Le Chambon-sur- Lignon, he penned the novel, The Plague.) One could consider these places as wellsprings of inspiration for Camus as he went about his creative pursuits.

1954 saw the outbreak of the Algerian War, a contention for Algeria’s independence from France. Fierce conflict engulfed all corners of the country, increasing in escalation as terror attacks and indiscriminate violence swept civilians into its wake. Camus, in the thick of these conditions, made a public entreaty for a truce to the war in Algiers in 1956: but this ended in failure. With this, Camus saw his own heart torn between his two homelands – the countries he loved.

I have a camera; it was one my  father used all the time, and came from the same period that Camus experienced such strife  and  anguish. With the camera in  hand, I  visited these places in  Algeria and France – these sources of creativity for Camus – and captured the afterimages of the era in which he lived, together with the light that inhabits them. Here I have collected them into pairs – pairs that pave the way for dialogue.