Albert Camus: Notebook Prose

I finished reading Albert Camus’s Notebooks 1935-1942. Here’s my previous post about it.

The book is a writer’s journal, and it includes philosophical passages, descriptions of places, and raw narrative material that later evolved into scenes in Camus’s most famous novel, The Stranger. Camus’s prose is lyrical and poetic, and I find myself re-reading many of these entries because I am blown away by their beauty. And I think writers could use some of the passages as fiction or poetry prompts—cracking them open and taking them in any direction.

Here are just a few entries that stood out for me:

“The first almond trees in blossom along the road by the sea. One night has been enough for them to covered with the fragile snow that we cannot imagine standing up to the cold and the rain which drenches all their petals.”

“From the top of the coast road, the cliffs are so thick that the landscape becomes unreal through its very qualities. Man is an outlaw there, so much so that all this beauty seems to come from another world.”

1940

“Evenings on the terrace of the Deux Merveilles. The palpitation of the sea that is sensed in the hollow of the night. The quivering almond trees and the smell of smoke rising from the earth.

The rocks in the sea covered with white seagulls. With their gray mass, lit up by the whiteness of the birds’ wings, they look like luminous floating cemeteries.”

And I’m not sure if this passage made its way into The Stranger or became a scene in another short story or novel. But I found the imagery incredible:

“Lying down, he smiled clumsily and his eyes glistened. She felt all her love flood into her throat and tears come into her eyes. She threw herself on his lips and crushed her tears between their two faces. She wept into his mouth, while he tasted in these salt lips all the bitterness of their love.”

Camus, Albert. Notebooks 1935-1942. Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1962. Ivan R. Dee, Translation, Reprint Edition, 2010.

I plan to read volume two of Camus’s notebooks, which covers the period from 1942 to 1951.

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