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Lyrical and Critical Essays

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  691 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Essays, Literary Studies, Classic and French Literature
Mass Market Paperback, 365 pages
Published September 12th 1970 by Vintage (first published October 28th 1968)
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Rakhi Dalal
Nov 22, 2013 Rakhi Dalal rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rakhi by: Jeremy
For a man indifferent to despair and happiness, what does it matter if the sun rises everyday and then the day proceeds habitually in its entire splendor. For a man torn between Yes and No, what does the love of his land matter. For a man who expects nothing, what does a passion hold? How does a burdened heart embrace the joy of living? And yet, it is this contradiction which defines most of Camus’ writing and thoughts, his ideas of life and living. His despair stems from a deep love, despair be ...more
I reviewed these essays one by one, as I read them, over a period of almost three years, so they appear in reverse order. To begin from the the beginning, scroll down to the end...

As far as stars go for the whole work, the Lyrical Essays are a firm five stars, without question. The rest of the material ranges from three and up ... in-and-of-themselves. A reader's interest and involvement in them will sometimes depend on how much he or she has invested in Camus' life and works already (for me tha
Aug 06, 2013 Rowena rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rowena by: Solanderdog
Shelves: philosophy, camus, essays

“The curtain of habits, the comfortable loom of words and gestures in which the heart drowses, slowly rises, finally to reveal anxiety’s pallid visage. Man is face to face with himself: I defy him to be happy…”
— Albert Camus, Death in the Soul

A collection of short essays by Camus, my favourites being the lyrical essays at the beginning of the book. They were mostly autobiographical, depicting Camus’ time in Algeria and also his observations in the countries he visited.
Camus writes lovely essa
Kathryn Bashaar
Jan 14, 2017 Kathryn Bashaar rated it really liked it
I can't claim that I read every essay in this book, nor that I liked every one that I did read, but the ones that I read and enjoyed, I enjoyed SO much that this collection definitely deserves 4 stars. Camus' intellect and erudition are deep and incisive. I found myself making connections between his thoughts and others I've read, from Rilke to Wendell Berry. And his writing in gorgeous. I think my favorite essay was "Between Yes and No." The sensory detail and metaphors are beautiful, like when ...more
Oct 13, 2009 umberto rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Reading “Lyrical and Critical Essays” by Albert Camus, I think, should be a good introduction and foundation to his famous novels written later. A reason is that these essays revealing his outstanding views, his powerful narration as well as his inspiring ideas have since affirmed his literary stature since he wrote them in 1935-1936, he was then twenty-two (p. 5). As a reader having read his “The Outsider” (aka. “The Stranger”) and “The Plague”, I found it simply interesting to read this book b ...more
نورة وليد
Apr 22, 2017 نورة وليد rated it it was amazing
and I quote from Camus with total agreement: "There is more love in these awkward pages than in all those that have followed."
Roger DeBlanck
Jan 25, 2012 Roger DeBlanck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
These essays illustrate with precision and elegance Camus’s ardor for life and his concerns about materialistic excess. The core of his empowering and inspiring philosophy focuses on how to save life. This quest involves acknowledging, understanding, and practicing tolerance and moderation. Failure or refusal to do so leaves the world vengeful and violent. Life is exiled when the mind is abandoned. The greatest wisdom comes from admitting that we cannot know everything. In trying to remake the w ...more
Stephen Tuck
Mar 05, 2013 Stephen Tuck rated it it was amazing
I bought this book chiefly because it included Camus’ essays on his life in French Algeria, and in particular the essay ‘Summer in Algiers’ which I remembered well from reading in High School.

I digress (because Goddammit this is my page and I can if I want to) to add that it was a particularly insightful teacher, John McMahon, who set as reading in Year 11 and Year 12 French Camus’ L’Etranger and Sartre’s Huis Clos. He made the shrewd judgment that these were ideas that would appeal to 16-17 yea
Juan Ríos
Nov 08, 2016 Juan Ríos rated it it was amazing
Beautiful insights of a life lived as he would have said " to the point of tears". In his lyrics Camus writes from the heart, illustrating those moments that took his breath away, moments full of awe and embedded in eternity - in his memories, in his writing -. Loved his observations about love, pain, transcendence, meaning of life and a life worth living.
Feb 26, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing
It is time for new readers to come to this book. I would
still like to be one of them, just as I would like to go back
to that evening when, after opening this little volume in
the street, I closed it again as soon as I had read the first
lines, hugged it tight against me, and ran up to my room to
devour it without witnesses. (Camus, On Jean Greniers Les Iles)

How Camus felt about Les Iles, I had felt about his Resistance, Rebellion and Death. And now, this book. Rarely, have I enjoyed just savo
Mar 09, 2017 Ellie rated it really liked it
Albert Camus for the win. Always. Will recommend.
Jan 20, 2009 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in Camus, the lyric essay, and writing on nature and philosophy.
Recommended to Kirsten by: Elizabeth
This book is split into two sections of essays. The lyrical essays in the first section are probably of more interest to the general reader, since the critical essays are often in response to other works of French literature (not having read all of them, it's a bit harder to follow Camus's arguments). The very last section contains some interviews with him, where he emphatically denies being a nihilist.

What was unexpected for me is that the lyrical essays are almost all nature essays in some re
Aug 11, 2010 Edward rated it really liked it
I must admit I haven't read much of the critical essays in this, but the lyrical essays are some of my favorite of Camus's writing. I was prompted to read this by finishing up Camus A Romance. In it, the author speaks very highly of his early works, for good reason.

This book contains some of Camus's first publications--"The Wrong Side and the Right Side" and "Nuptials"--as well as "Summer", a later collection wherein he tries to recapture his former energy as displayed in Nuptials. All are great
Oct 29, 2011 Phil rated it it was amazing
This collection truly is a gem for anyone interested in Camus' thought. You will not find anything necessarily original here. As a matter of face, it may feel at times that you are hearing from a Camus you never thought existed. But much like Gide's letters and Camus' own notebooks, you are granted insight to the inner workings of the man. No single piece will seem to match the whole, which is to be expected. Despite all that, you gain in knowing more of the man. Who is, was, and sees himself as ...more
Jul 11, 2010 Nathanial added it
Shelves: theory
Lyrical essays include excerpts from "The Myth of Sisyphus" and other books; my two favorites are the one on his hometown in winter and the one on returning home, disillusioned, only to find redemption in the sudden sunlight rounding a streetcorner. Critical essays include reviews of Rene Char and other contemporaries, an introduction to his stage adaptation of a Faulkner novel, and thoughts on Melville. Also included: a section of interviews and correspondence, like letters to Barthes and Sartr ...more
Oct 20, 2013 metaphor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: albert-camus
Knowing that certain nights whose sweetness lingers will keep returning to the earth and sea after we are gone, yes, this helps us to die. Great sea, ever in motion, ever virgin, my religion along with night! It washes and satiates us in its sterile billows, frees us and holds us upright. Each breaker brings its promise, always the same. What does each say? If I were to die surrounded by cold mountains, ignored by the world, an outcast, at the end of my strength, at the final moment the sea woul ...more
Jul 30, 2012 R.a. rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A continuation of this author's and thinker's impressions, observations, critiques, and opinions.

There are a couple to a few essays repeated from other anthologies; but overall, the added material dominates.

I particularly enjoyed his essay and observations on tragedy.

Also, in this collection are transcripts from various interviews. Wholly understandable why he felt the linking of himself to Sartre and the label existentialist "odd."

A great addition for any and all wishing to go beyond The Strang
Sep 19, 2007 carl rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite of Camus' work. The collection of essays found here provide insight into Camus' thought and his world. At times what you learn seems to reflect the Algeria of his time. Yet in spite of the heat, the political and cultural tension that was Algeria, Camus' essays bring out a rare light to view the world as he does.

(Of special note to you Sartre lovers out there, this book contains some of the articles written between them. Think of them less as news journal articles and more li
Feb 15, 2014 Jobie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unfinished, read-2014
I am a big Camus fan.

His lyrical essays are engaging and beautiful. He's moderately easy-to-read and his ideas beautifully brought though sometimes complex understand. They are not obtuse. They can be grasped with careful meditation.

I don't always agree with his conclusions or worldview but I appreciate his thought process.

I was only able to read the lyrical part - my book fell apart and I lost the second half. I will continue the review when I find it.
Marik Casmon
Apr 16, 2012 Marik Casmon rated it it was amazing
I have just finished re-reading and underling on about every second page of the Lyrical Essays section of this book, most of which essays were written when Camus was relatively young. I find those early, I find myself unable, unwilling, to describe the intense love of this Earth than Camus's writing displays. A greater tribute to the sea and sky I've never seen.
May 27, 2009 Fatima rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people with troubled thoughts
Recommended to Fatima by: counselor
There are too many things to think about in life. Camus thought life was absurd, and i believe it to a certain point. it is what you make it. Camus writes with such beautiful, philosophical clarity, its hard to not follow him.
Joshua Lawson
Dec 27, 2013 Joshua Lawson rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
This book was my first exposure to Camus and I absolutely enjoyed it. His lyrical essays are superb; his critical reviews left me hungry for more. Very quotable.
Sep 20, 2016 Fev rated it really liked it
Shelves: relevant, read-again
this took a while, but was worth it.
Billy Candelaria
Nov 23, 2010 Billy Candelaria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
highly recommended
erin g
Jul 24, 2007 erin g rated it it was amazing
different than any camus you've ever read
Oct 12, 2014 Juliette rated it it was amazing
Oct 24, 2007 Lew rated it liked it
Walter Kaufmann wrote that Camus was a nightingale who thought he was an owl. I don't know about that, but the lyrical essays have the pulse of sun and sea in them.
Brendan Howard
Jul 16, 2016 Brendan Howard rated it liked it
Who am I kidding? These essays are not my cup of tea, although Camus is. A week or two break has melted my resolve and interest away, and I now drift on to other things.
Mary Clark
Apr 15, 2010 Mary Clark rated it it was amazing
Camus' lyrical style succeeds in making some of his greatest intellectual arguments. These essays make clear his point of view and show its development from childhood to the height of his career.
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Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. His origin in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work. Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in philosophy (only chance prevented him from pursuing a university care ...more
More about Albert Camus...

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“I cling like a miser to the freedom that disappears as soon as there is an excess of things.” 20 likes
“Because there is nothing here than invites us to cherish unhappy lovers. Nothing is more vain than to die for love. What we ought to do is live.” 20 likes
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