In this book the author has dealt with a detailed study of the work of the French Nobel Laureate, Albert Camus in relation with the ancient Upanisadic thoughts. In the writings of .Albert Camus the whole civilized world found a nobility of spirit. The characteristic quality specially quoted in his Nobel Prize citation was, "his illumination of the problems of the human conscience in our time." Camus was baffled by the seeming meaninglessness of human life, its inexplicability, the feeling of unreality and strange-ness. He conceived ours to be a world without God, a world adrift and without any guiding purpose at all. His contention was that man faces a world which is simply there, and into which a man is hurled by a blind and senseless fate. This theme of essential futility, absurdity, utter incomprehensibility of life and death is stressed in almost all his writings. Like Lord Buddha he was shocked by the sight of human misery and mortality. Yet, paradoxically was attracted to the essential desirability of it. Although completely ruffled by the consciousness of an ambiguous and silent God he was not unaware of "that strange joy that comes from a tranquil conscience", a perfect inner harmony one experiences on attaining true knowledge. Upanisads are a search for this very reality underlying the flux of things. The author has put forward a convincing comparative study of two philosophies as expounded in their respective literatures and of two seemingly disparate cultures. This study is fundamentally useful to the interpretation of all literature as belonging to the world and not to a limited geographical region.
Sharad Chandra (b. 1943) has been a lecturer in English and French language in the university colleges of Delhi, Rajasthan, and Nigeria; and in Creative Writing at the Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi. Now a fulLtime writer-translator she has published nine books and a number of articles, poems, short stories. Works of Albert Camus were the subject of her doctoral thesis, as well as a number of subsequent research papers. She has translated into Hindi important works of Camus, Sartre, Claude Simon and modern French poetry.
Besides an exquisite quality of its own what attracts me in Camus is the kinship of his vision with Indian people. The concepts which suggest his proximity to Indian thought are also present in the ancient Greek philosophy. Camus acknowledges having read both the philosophies—Greek and the Indian—during the years 1931-36, perhaps Greek much more than the Indian. Whatever was the proportion or intensity of his reading, what is important to me is the reflection of those subtle ideas, and the transmission of their message through his incomparably lucid style inspiring in his readers tremendous faith in themselves and an insatiable urge to live a full life in spite of the fact of suffering. This buoyant robustness in Camus' writing made him popular all over the world, especially among the youth who simply enjoy imagining "Sisyphus happy," and learn a profound truth by doing so.
The essays put together in this book include some of the papers presented by me at previously held seminars, either specifically on Camus, or on an aspect of cultural interaction in the wider field of Indo-French relations. They do not seek to make any claims but rather, put forward my modest efforts at exploring the reasons behind Camus' popularity in India. I have arranged them in the same sequence as they were written without any change or correction in the contents because my search has not yet concluded and the final version is yet to come. The firstessay underlines the overall spiritual inclination of Camus' thought, and his concern for the dissipating values in modern society; "Influence of Indian Thought" registers my first impressions of the analogy between Camus and Indian thought and subsequent search for its source; "An Intellectual Affinity" is a record of Camus' influence on Indian writing; "Humanism in Camus and in Indian Philosophy" examines philosophical parallels between the two. The next three essays are freshly written for this collection. "Desire for Unity" discusses the presence of this essentially religious desire in Indian philosophy, Greek philosophy, and in Camus' work; "Plotinus, the Upanisads and Camus" suggests a possible source of "Indianness" in Camus; and "Religion Without God" briefly points out that in spite of a halo of sanctity hung over everything in India, religion is not so much connected with correct belief as with righteous living; that is why Camus' belief or non-belief does not affect its appreciation of his writing. A detailed account of the life and works of Albert Camus is provided in the Appendix.
Each of these essays is an attempt to understand Camus' thought, the circumstances, and the influences which gave it the shape to which the Indian reader identifies himself so well and so readily.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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