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Did Commies Kill Camus?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:52 am - August 16, 2011.
Filed under: Communism,Great Men,Literature & Ideas

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.



  1. Hmm. Sounds a bit too conspiracy theory-ish to me. I’d always heard that the tree Camus’ car struck stood apart from any others, so it would have been incredibly fortunate for the assassins that the flat tire would have led the car right to it, not to mention making it a fatal accident.

    I don’t know about enough about Camus’ politics to say he was the first neo-conservative, as you put it, but he did seem to be turning to religion, specifically Christianity, before he died. Here’s a post I wrote about this:

    Comment by Jim S. — August 16, 2011 @ 5:36 am - August 16, 2011

  2. Yeah, granted, it all does sound conspiracy-ish. So I always speculated, never asserted. But, you should take a gander at some of Sartre’s barbs against Camus in the late 1950s. Kind of a precursor for the ill-informed nastiness of many on the left today.

    Yes, he did seem to be turning to religion as he did seem to be turning right. As to his politics, read The Rebel or some of his later (i.e., 1950s) essays.

    For those who understand the true background of neocons and don’t just see them as some right-wing Bushkeyite cabal, you can see this tendency in the growing stridency of his criticism of Communism. Many neocons began their journey to the right faulting their then-ideological cohorts on the left for their almost blind adherence to Soviet ideology.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — August 16, 2011 @ 12:37 pm - August 16, 2011

  3. Interesting.
    OTOH, the KGB probably didn’t need Sartre’s encouragement.

    Comment by Fausta — August 16, 2011 @ 6:09 pm - August 16, 2011

  4. Albert Who?.
    And I thought John-Paul Satre was a member of Monty Python.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — August 16, 2011 @ 8:28 pm - August 16, 2011

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