Published in France for the first time 34 years after it was discovered in the wreckage of the car in which Camus was killed--this autobiographical novel covers the years of Camus' childhood in Algeria, growing up in poverty among silent, illiterate women, desperately searching for a father. Completely unedited, the manuscript was transcribed by Camus' daughter Catherine.
The First Man is a radiant, deeply moving novel of childhood. Camus intended it as the opening book of a projected epic - his War and Peace - but in its storytelling magic and its evocative power, it has a satisfying completeness on its own, covering, as it does, the years of Camus's childhood in Algeria. As he recaptures memories of growing up fatherless with a deaf-mute mother and an illiterate, tyrannical grandmother, Camus renders the poverty of a working-class neighborhood transcended by all the sensuous pleasures that nourish this boy's young life - the escapes to the beach and to the soccer fields with his schoolmates, the joyous hunting expeditions in the backcountry with his uncle and his cronies, the sounds and smells of the streets and docks of Belcourt, the delights of the sun and the sea, and his overwhelming love for his silent mother. Throughout there is the undercurrent of a frustrating search for a father and the awareness of the escalating tension between Algeria and France. But with the miraculous intervention of a wise schoolteacher, the future suddenly opens up.
Original title: Le Premier Homme
Genre: Fiction→ General Fiction→ Literary Fiction/classics