Albert Camus has long been one of my favorite writers. Indeed, I quoted the Nobel Prize-winning author in my very first blog post (with the quotation reposted here). While Camus always considered himself a “man of the left,” I have long called him “the first neo-conservative“. He had always strongly opposed tyranny which he first witnessed in fascist societies, particularly under the Nazi occupation of Paris, but soon began to see not just in Communists societies, but also in leftist movements.
His opposition to Stalin and Stalinism earned him the scorn of his one-time allies in the French left, including Jean-Paul Sartre, an apologist throughout his life for Soviet tyranny — and a man who dressed up his own participation in the resistance to Nazism.
Sartre became increasingly jealous of Camus after their split, particularly since the Algeria-born Frenchman had produced a far broader range of work than had he. I’d often wondered if maybe Sartre had leaned on his friends in the KGB to dispose of the more talented writer. Camus died in a car accident on January 4, 1960.
Now, David Zincavage, based on an account in an Italian newspaper asks, “Did the KGB arrange the death of Nobel Prize winning writer Albert Camus in a car accident in 1960?”
An article which appeared in the Italian paper Corriere della Sera on August 1 quotes Eastern European scholar Giovanni Catelli, who discovered that the complete version of the Diary of Czech poet and translator Jan Zábrana contained a reference to the death of Albert Camus omitted from abridged French and Italian translations.
Read the whole thing. Well, this story doesn’t support my speculation about Sartre, but does raise some interesting questions.
Remember, Albert Camus was one of the first prominent literary men of the left to publicly criticize Communist. His outspoken critiques of the brutal system could cause more intellectuals to question their defense of the Soviet Union. And Communists were dependent on such men and women in their propaganda was against the West.
They would have had good reason to want him dead. That doesn’t mean they did it. But, the latest revelations do raise some interesting questions.
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