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Google honours French icon Camus 100 years on

AFP/The Local · 7 Nov 2013, 09:35

Published: 07 Nov 2013 09:35 GMT+01:00

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Albert Camus, the writer who is best known internationally for his philosophical novel L’Etranger is being celebrated with a special Google Doodle to mark a century since his birth. 

In the specially-designed image, which appeared on the search engine's French homepage on Thursday, the central ‘o’ of Google represents the rock in Camus’ acclaimed 1942 philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus.

Born on November 7th 1913, exactly 100 years ago to a modest family in Algeria, Camus was an unlikely candidate to become one of the giants of 20th century literature.

His mother was illiterate and partially deaf. His father, a farm worker, perished in one of the first major battles of World War I while Camus was still a babe in arms. 

Yet, by the age of 44 he was collecting the Nobel Prize for literature, an award he dedicated to the memory of the primary school teacher who had nourished his fledgling intellect with daily extra lessons and persuaded his reluctant family to allow him to take the exams that would open the doors to higher education.

SEE ALSO: The 10 best books about France

Camus made the most of the chance accorded him. After studying at the University of Algiers he moved to Paris during the dark days of Nazi occupation and embarked on a writing career as the main editorialist for Combat, an underground Resistance newspaper.

With his sharp cheekbones, turned-up collars and a Gauloise invariably dangling from his lip, Camus was one of the faces of the post-war Left Bank in Paris, his trademark look memorably captured in a Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph that is a defining image of that time.

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His philosophical writings, which echoed some of the themes explored in his fiction -- the absurdity of the human condition and the necessity of rebelling against it -- were frequently savaged by contemporary critics.

Translated into English as either the The Stranger or The Outsider, Camus’ novel L’Etranger has been published in more than 40 languages and has sold more than eight million copies, a remarkable achievement for what is a complex, morally ambiguous tale set in a racially divided, colonial world few people would now recognize.

Just three years after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Camus died in a car accident in 1960 aged 46.

AFP/The Local (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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