Friday, July 5, 2013

My hero: Albert Camus by David Constantine

Albert Camus

My hero: Albert Camus by David Constantine

Camus helps you become 'the one who you are', and the revolt he incites brings you into a recognition of common human suffering

David Constantine
Friday 5 July 2013 16.00 BST
've been rereading Camus, chiefly the stories collected in Exile and the Kingdom and the long essay "The Rebel". They belong together. Anyone looking around must see the need for the revolt that Camus advocated, and any writer should ask what writing can do for it.

I suppose most writers believe, with Camus, that "saying things badly increases the unhappiness of the world", and that they are duty-bound, therefore, to say things accurately; that is, to tell the truth. In bad times – the Nazi occupation, the atrocious Algerian war – Camus engaged himself heroically, telling the truth and fighting for it, against all manner of lying propaganda.

The premise of his revolt is atheism. From that comes his rejection of any ideology that defers human happiness into the beyond; or, in the secular-religious version, defers it into an earthly but future ideal state whose attainment will entail the harming or extermination of people – millions of people – who don't fit the leader's aims. Given atheism, he says, "there is then only one hell and it is of this world"; and that, he adds, is what we must struggle against.
Fiction and poetry will help in this struggle by dis-illusioning; but also – and this really lifts up my heart towards him – by embodying a love of the earth and the enjoyment of its gifts and by making works which are fit to be seen in it; which is to say, by making and asserting beauty in the teeth of "a world that insults it". Jouissance in the "living virtue" of beauty is at the heart of his revolt.
Camus helps you become "the one you are". And the revolt he incites, an assertion of individual freedom, brings you into a recognition of common human suffering and of the common need to lessen it and to enliven the lives of all. We are all, individually, makers of community. "I revolt, therefore we are."
 David Constantine's Tea at the Midland and Other Stories (Comma Press) this week won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story award.

001 My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd
002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm


017 My hero / Jack Yeats by Colm Tóibín
018 My hero / Francisco Goya by Diana Athill
019 My hero / Max Stafford-Clark by Sebastian Barry
020 My hero / Arthur Holmes by Richard Fortey

036 My hero / Robert Lowell by Jonathan Raban
037 My hero / Beryl Bainbridge by Michael Holroyd
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
039 My hero / Oliver Knussen by Adam Foulds
040 My hero / Annie Proulx by Alan Warner

041 My hero / David Lynch by Paul Murray
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford
043 My hero / Anne Lister by Emma Donoghue
044 My hero / Jane Helen Harrinson by Mary Beard
045 My hero / Edmund Burke by David Marquand
046 My hero / Shelagh Deleaney by Jeanette Winterson
047 My hero / Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
048 My hero / Gwen John by Anne Enright
049 My hero / Michael Mayne by Susan Hill
050 My hero / Stanley Spencer by Howard Jacobson

051 My hero / William Beveridge by Will Hutton
052 My hero / Jean McConville by Amanda Foreman
053 My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

079 My hero / Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
100 Thomas Tranströmer by Robin Robertson
102 My hero / David Hockney by Susan Hill


190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer


No comments:

Post a Comment