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
Shakespeare and Company has weathered many storms, but the pandemic has been the most devastating of them all.
For over a century the legendary bookstore Shakespeare and Company has beamed out from the Left Bank of Paris like a lighthouse of literature.
The former 16th-century monastery on Rue de la Bûcherie, and its previous site not far away at 12 Rue de l’Odéon, has been a home away from home for the Lost Generation in the 1920s and the Beatnik generation in the 1950s, a publisher and reading resource for the likes of James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, and shelter for the estimated 30,000 “tumbleweeds”—young writers and enthusiasts allowed to stay for free—over the years.
But the economic disaster wrought by the coronavirus pandemic has hit independent bookstores in France, including this timeless Anglophone institution, hard. Deemed “non-essential” by the government even during the country’s second lockdown, they were forced to close to in-person customers, while commerce for online behemoths like Amazon has soared. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo herself warned city-goers: “Don’t buy on Amazon. Amazon is the death of our bookshops and our neighborhood life.”
Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church and the bishop of Rome
By Pope Francis
In this past year of change, my mind and heart have overflowed with people. People I think of and pray for, and sometimes cry with, people with names and faces, people who died without saying goodbye to those they loved, families in difficulty, even going hungry, because there’s no work.
Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nation, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.
These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion. Each of us has had our own “stoppage,” or if we haven’t yet, we will someday: illness, the failure of a marriage or a business, some great disappointment or betrayal. As in the Covid-19 lockdown, those moments generate a tension, a crisis that reveals what is in our hearts.Continue reading “Pope Francis’ Covid message: We must let ourselves be touched by others’ pain.”
The Paris area of Montmartre is known for its artists and cabarets, dating back to the days when it was a haven for the likes of Van Gogh and Picasso. It’s normally packed with tourists but since Cov…
Shakespeare & Co., the iconic Paris bookstore that published James Joyce’s “Ulysses” in 1922, is appealing to readers for support after pandemic-linked losses and France’s spring coronavirus lockdown put the future of the Left Bank institution in doubt.
The English-language bookshop on the Seine River sent an email to customers last week to inform them that it was facing “hard times” and to encourage them to buy a book. Paris entered a fresh lockdown on Oct. 30 that saw all non-essential stores shuttered for the second time in seven months.
“We’ve been [down] 80% since the first confinement in March, so at this point we’ve used all our savings,” Sylvia Whitman, daughter of the late proprietor George Whitman, said.
Since sending the email appeal, Whitman says she has been “overwhelmed” by the offers of help Shakespeare & Co. has received. There have been a record 5,000 online orders in one week, compared with around 100 in a normal week — representing a 50-fold increase. Continue reading “Iconic Paris bookshop asks for help amid virus losses”