Reading “The Rebel”

I’ve been trying to read this book forever, but now with the intention of reading “The Plague”–so fitting during the current pandemic–I am forcing myself to understand the rebellious morality first before proceeding to the infected town and its philosophical consequence. The problem is that Camus’ book has a lot of references on figures of ancient Rome or Greece, philosophers of the past, and even concepts from his previous books on Sisyphus and absurdism. I couldn’t go past one paragraph without the mad rash to find the meaning to all those terms I didn’t understand and all those names I tried to make sense of. Consequently the progress was painfully slow to the point that I had to give up not once, but twice. Now I have a solution–audiobook. Listening made the halting and pausing almost obsolete. I was either cooking, exercising, or doing laundry. Stopping was impossible and continuation was the only way.

As soon as I started, I knew I had to listen to it again and then read the text another time. In later chapters, when it came to the point of talking about Germany under Hitler and Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, I felt that I could understand more. Since I was listening, I couldn’t highlight–I could only paraphrase, “the rebels are in a dilemma–going back death and going forward murder.” This is so true and this is the reason why I wanted to read the book in the first place–to try to comprehend this dilemma and to search for solutions. However Camus doesn’t offer any solutions. He treats this book as a process of personal improvement–a kind of self-help book in its best literary and philosophical sense.

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