Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Camus in the Panthéon?


The calls to scrap the idea of re-interring Albert Camus in the Panthéon are justified in my view. Last year when I went to France, I briefly stopped by Villeblevin - the little village near Paris where he was killed in a car crash almost exactly 50 years ago. I visited the unassuming monument at the site of the crash. The rural humbleness and charm of the place emanated a soft scent of earthliness and humanity: the unimposing stone relief of Camus's head boded well with this atmosphere. It was simple and modest and perfectly so.

As far as I know, Camus himself is buried in a similar sort of place in southern France. He better stay there. The great figures in the Panthéon (Voltaire, Emile Zola, etc) all died in old age - an age befitting the grand classicism of the Panthéon .

It elicits admiration without sympathy.

There, closer to the earthly world and thus to humanity Camus should rest befitting not his age but his character.

While his philosophy makes the individual's mortality easier to swallow, he died too young - he is simply not and never will be ready for the Panthéon because he was simply not ready for death. This calls for admiration and sympathy alike. Let it stay that way.


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