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Camus, a Romance

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  84 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Elizabeth Hawes’s passionate pursuit of Camus began with her college thesis. A biography-memoir, Camus, a Romance reveals the man behind the famous name: the French-Algerian of humble birth and Mediterranean passions; the TB-stricken exile who edited the World War II resistance newspaper Combat; the pied noir in anguish over the Algerian War; the Don Juan who loved a multi ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Grove Press
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(Disclosure: I was requested to read and review this biography)

Say you’re a college student studying philosophy and you spend hours trawling through Kant and Heidegger and Plato and even Sartre and maybe a female philosopher now and then and then you hit upon Camus with his melty good looks, his melancholy expression and his cute out-of-proportion ear. You are going to sit up and pay attention. He looks approachable, modern, if a bit retro. There’s no denying Albert Camus was an attractive man,
Not a traditional biography but more of an appreciation, and the slippery nature of the focus made for a few rough patches. But I have now revised my position on Camus, and in fact feel quite mislead about him and his works. He was most certainly not an existentialist, not a despair-ridden nihilist, and not a Sartre acolyte. He was a moralist with strong views on what should and should not be. The Plague is probably the work that most closely expresses his true philosophy and feelings, yet high ...more
The book started well. This is an interesting concept: an subjective experience of another person's life through secondary sources -- books, writings, remembrances of others, and visiting of sites and locations. At the risk of being overly personal, both at the internal life of the author as well as the assumed interior life of Camus, this book tried to manage a tricky line between an objective analysis versus a subjective assessment. The writing is lyrical, occasionally careens toward sentiment ...more
Upon seeing this recently released book, blazoned with the name and likeness of a personal hero, I could not help but purchase it and read it.

Elizabeth Hawes has, to her infinite credit, done a great deal of research as she embarked on the journey to write this book. So much of her collected anecdotes from friends of Camus create a detailed sense of the man himself. One cannot fault the dedication of her enterprise. The book however, is in many ways exactly what it's subtitle implies it to be, a
Christina Bouwens
Starts out very powerfully, intriguingly and somewhat sensually. In the middle things get muddled, though, and lose steam in a rather quick downward spiral. I'm still uncertain if this is because, after pursuing a dead beautiful philosopher for over nine years of the writing of this book, the author lost some of that steam herself in her pursuit. I certainly can understand both her passion for Camus as well as the waning of her desire, as one is indefinitely left without closure when the subject ...more
Caitlin Marineau
I started reading this book around 5 months ago, but grad school got in the way, so it took me a while to finally finish it. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Camus, who always seemed to be a man ahead of his time, and proved to be on the right side of history when it came to many sticky moral questions. Hawes's examination of Camus is less of a straight-forward biography than a meditation on her own lifelong obsession with the author. Her writing is lyrical and beautiful, and sh ...more
Scott Holstad
I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't finish this book, no matter how much I love Camus, the author. I got to page 193 and gave up. Hawes is in love with Camus, like literally, and her sentimentality and romantic idealization throw the book off base. Even when she's talking about his faults, it's as though she wants to slightly scold a boy child. She takes it pretty easy on him. Now, like I said, I love Camus and have read most of what he's written. I consider The Plague to be the ...more
Though I like biography and learning the details of people's lives, I feel as if this one was intended only for the most devout of followers of Albert Camus and those steeped in the politics and philosophies of his times in France and North Africa. I have read "the Stranger" probably 3-4 times, but none of his other works and I felt out of place, like an imposter trying to understand things way over my head. I would have appreciated it more if I'd read his other works.

The biography has definitel
How refreshing, a simple book. Philosophy should be kept simple for the literary masses. Inspiring, free of non-corrugated cant. Water runs freely through the pages. Now I want to muddy those waters a bit. I feel like asking in what way are impersonators most like stalkers. What is the deep clue to their dark common psyches? My love affairs have revealed nothing. That's my chief talent, and my only real attack on the legend of accomplishment, what's yours? I always ask. Right after you tell me w ...more
Though the book begins with some interesting insights into the life of Camus, it fizzles out about half way through. Eventually the author finds herself repeating the same observations over and over again. The book reads like an exam answer from an overeager student who is unsure of which direction to take so they only know they are done when they have finally committed every last thing they know on the subject to the page.
This came highly recommended but I found the author to be rather irritating and had a tough time focusing on the subject. If you have never read of Camus's life its worth your time. He is often deemed to be one of the great thinkers of the 20th century but his life story is just as interesting. There are better studies out there like Oliver Reed's biography.
This biography/autobiography and (vicarious) love affair with Camus (whom Hawes never met) doesn't quite make it in any of those categories. Nevertheless, it's an interesting read about a magnetic figure in mid 20th century literature, theater and politics.
Loved it. Wish I had thought of this idea when I was writing my MA Thesis: part memoir, part literary criticism, part history, part biography. Well-written, intelligent and engaging. Looks at Camus the man and the historical and literary subject.
I knew very little about Camus before reading this book. An intriguing view of Algeria before its independence and of literary society in France. The pace of the book slowed down in the second half & I found myself skimming through most of it.
I'm sure I'm just jealous of the author's intellectual life and pedigree and that's why I couldn't fully enjoy this. Either that or I just found the structure of the thing unsatisfying. On the other hand, I kind of have a crush on Camus now too.
If Camus is important to you, this is a" must read".
Excellent writing. I normally dislike a nonfiction where the writer inserts herself into the narrative, but for some reason it fits this book perfectly.
I love this indirect biography of Camus that is also an autobiography: the story of one woman's obsession with Camus. (I feel it too.)
Patrick Henry
Not in the FCPL catalog
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Elizabeth Hawes was an American clothing designer, outspoken critic of the fashion industry, and champion of ready to wear and people's right to have the clothes they desired, rather than the clothes dictated to be fashionable. In addition to her work in the fashion industry as a sketcher, copyist, stylist, and journalist, as well as a designer, she was also an author, union organizer, champion of ...more
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