New speculation on the death of Albert Camus

A tragic accident or a KGB hit?

Novelist, playwright and Nobel Laureate, Albert Camus won both acclaim and notoriety for his literary work and its contribution to moral philosophy. Until recently, his untimely death in a car crash was considered an accident. Now, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has suggested that Camus's outspoken criticism of Soviet rule, combined with his support for novelist Boris Pasternak, may have cost him his life. The paper refers to diary entries made by Czech poet Jan Zabrana, who believed that the fatal collision was orchestrated by Soviet spies acting on the orders of Soviet foreign minister Dmitri Trofimovic.

It's a theory worthy of the author himself. Camus made enemies on both the right and left through his unflinchingly individualistic political stance. The characters in his novels are also at odds with political and social mores. Meursault – protagonist of The Outsider – is vilified for lacking the requisite moral and emotional responses to death and guilt. It is his failure to show remorse, perhaps more than his crime, that condemns him.

Expressing this alienation visually is a challenge. That's why we chose The Outsider as the book for our inaugural illustration competition, knowing it would provoke interesting responses. Of many imaginative entries, we chose Matthew Richardson's surreal images. His use of collage brings unsettling life to the estranged Meursault – vulnerable, unblinking and detached. In an article for Printmaking Today, Richardson said: 'I chose to bring out the mood of the book and the main character through subtle colour and sparse composition that seemed to echo rather than illustrate the world that Camus had created'.

last modified: Mon, Sep 12th 2011Bookmark and Share
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