NOTEBOOKS 1935-1942

In these posthumously published notebooks of Camus, written well before he was thirty, one can find the seeds for almost all the later works, from The Stranger and Caligula on to The Fall. The themes, however, present themselves more peripherally than profoundly, and what we have here, often in those clear, classic constructions which so marked the Nobel Prize winner's style, is really genius in its green days: something explorative, something essayistically exuberant, at times very moving. Camus same early to the truth as he saw it: modern man's confrontation between ideals and deologues, the hero as exile in a blank slate of existence, a universe without God, a day-to-day monotony of megalopolis, of alienation both from humanity and from nature. For Camus the experience of the absurd was everywhere— "not only is there no solution, but there aren't even any problems"; yet as the notebooks and the novels show he sought both. Over and over in these pages, filled with a young man's debt to persons (readings n Kierkegaard, Aurelius, Tolstoy), to place (travels in Algeria, France, Italy) and to casual contacts (scraps of overheard conversation; studies in character), it is the "complete awareness" of the facts, of death and of freedom, of love and despair, which he preaches. Sensual fulfillment and stoical objectivity are the weapons, the acceptance of pleasure and of pain the programme. A resolution to live within the limits of the possible, a tragic joy in a "univers absurd", these cahiers are relevant and revelatory, the journey of an era and a man.

Pub Date: July 15, 1963

ISBN: 1569249938

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1963

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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