Man of our times: Why Albert Camus matters today – The Debate

He’s been gone six decades but after 2020, it feels like French literary great Albert Camus matters more than ever. The year began with tributes for the 60th anniversary of the French existentialist icon’s premature death in a car crash. Then came Covid-19. And readers locked down the world over dusted off that go-to guide, “The Plague”, to make sense of the randomly unexpected. We ask our panel about the re-reading of a novel set in Camus’s native Algeria in the wake of World War II. But it’s not just “The Plague” that is timeless.

In all of the Nobel literature laureate’s plays, essays and novels, protagonists struggle to understand where they belong in times of upheaval. Just look at today. We live in an age of alienation, identity politics, the loss of a sense of self. A bit like in “The Stranger” – also set in colonial Algeria.

What would Camus have made of 2020 and the age of digital discourse, where powered by tribal echo chambers, we judge and sometimes sentence our peers? When Covid-19 is long behind us, “The Fall” will still be worth re-reading. We tell you why.

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Imen Melllaz

Source FRANCE 24: Man of our times: Why Albert Camus matters today – The Debate


Five places to buy French vineyards on a budget

Less prestigious appellations can offer interesting value to those looking to buy French vineyards on a tighter budget, to kick-start a long-held winemaking dream.

Appellation (AOP) vines outside of Champagne cost €74,900 per hectare on average in 2019, but several areas were below €20,000, show figures released this summer by land agency Safer.

If you’re not so bothered about having the AOP status, then non-appellation vines were down at €14,400 on average across France.

It’s also possible to buy land not currently used for vineyards. ‘You would need to apply for planting rights, but you can get them,’ said Kirsten Pollard, of estate agency Maxwell-Baynes, affiliated to Christie’s International Real Estate.

But she said this strategy would be a ‘long way round’, and that buying an existing vineyard can save time and carry fewer risks.

It would be even more important to do your research on the terroir, too.

Pollard, who generally specialises in higher-end properties and covers south-west France, including Cahors and the Dordogne, said that €1.5m might buy you a stone house with several bedrooms, a pool and around 10 to 20ha of vines – albeit perhaps needing some work.

Although it can be ‘quite hard to make money’ from a vineyard at this sort of level, she said it was important to think about potential sales networks.

For example, that might include tapping into the new generation of natural wine bars around the world, or building partnerships with local restaurants.

Pollard highlighted an organic and natural wine estate that she sold a few years ago for €850,000 to a 40-year-old Czech buyer. The property included 15ha of vines near to Cahors but not in an appellation zone.

Some buyers are also looking for ‘hobby’ vineyards that don’t necessary need to turn a commercial profit, as previously reported.

Don’t underestimate the amount of potential work – or cost – involved in running a vineyard, but here are five places to look based on Safer figures.


Buy French vineyards

Vines in Corbières at sunrise. Photo credit: Ian Badley / Alamy Stock Photo.

AOP vines in Languedoc-Roussillon cost an average €12,700 per hectare in 2019, up by €200 versus 2018 but still making the vast region one of the cheapest places to buy vines.

However, the region is so big that you’ll find a lot of variation, and you would naturally expect to pay more in one of the area’s more prestigious zones, such as Terrasses du Larzac, La Clape or Pic-St-Loup.

According to Safer, Languedoc has seen a relatively high number of vineyard deals in recent years, compared to other regions.

Prices haven’t risen everywhere, however. The average price of Corbières vines has been around €9,000 for the past few years, for instance.

‘There are many vineyards for sale in Corbières and Minervois because a lot of winegrowers are retiring,’ Aurelia Mistral-Bernard, of the Montpellier branch of estate agency network Vinea Transaction, told recently.

Continue reading “Five places to buy French vineyards on a budget”

Hear Camus’ 1946 lecture: “The Human Crisis” – even more profound today

Albert Camus delivered this lecture on “La Crise de l’homme” in 1946 at Columbia University, on his only trip to the United States. The lecture is presented here in English translation.

““I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless.” – Albert Camus

00:20 Introduction by Shanny Peer, Director of the Maison Française
05:35 Introduction by Alice Kaplan, Professor of Yale University
11:50 Reading of ‘The Human Crisis’ by Viggo Mortensen
56:50 Discussion with Viggo Mortensen, Alice Kaplan and Souleymane Bachir Diagne

On April 28, 2016 a reading by Viggo Mortensen of a speech by Albert Camus, and roundtable discussion with Viggo Mortensen, Alice Kaplan and Souleymane Bachir Diagne Albert Camus originally delivered this lecture on “La Crise de l’homme” on March 28, 1946, to a very full house at the McMillin Academic Theatre at Columbia University,

on his first and only trip to the United States. 70 years later, to celebrate Camus’s visit to New York and Columbia, his lecture will be delivered in a dramatic reading by the actor Viggo Mortensen, in a version newly translated into English by Alice Kaplan.

Continue reading “Hear Camus’ 1946 lecture: “The Human Crisis” – even more profound today”

Albert Camus “The Plague”

“In January 1941, the twenty-eight year old French writer Albert Camus began work on a novel about a virus that spreads uncontrollably from animals to humans and ends up destroying half the population of a representative modern town. It was called La Peste / The Plague, eventually published in 1947 and frequently described as the greatest European novel of the postwar period”

The School of Life