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The Guest by Albert Camus

Albert Camus's "The Guest" embodies the existentialism that prevails among the author's works. French existentialism was a philosophy promoted by Jean-Paul Sartre, and that Camus found "was widely misunderstood as a philosophy of hopelessness" (Wyatt). Sartre defined existentialism as "a humanism," suggesting that "if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence"-man (Sartre). He asserted that "If man as the existentialist sees him is not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself" (Sartre). Although Camus did believe that life was "absurd-defying logical explanation, and ultimately irrational," he also "considered life valuable and worth defending" (Wyatt). Although in American thought, existentialism was held to be "devoid of morality," Camus in fact had "a strong ethical system" (Wyatt). Camus opposed nihilism, Nietzsche's idea that life was "pointless," believing that "Mankind, by its very existence, was in the unique position of defining itself through choices" (Wyatt). Camus was also an opponent of Marxism, a philosophy that he critiqued in The Rebel and that he viewed as "ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be" (Freeman).

In Camus's "The Guest," the story lends itself to examination according to all three philosophies-existentialism, nihilism, and Marxism. As critic Rob Roy McGregor puts it, "Camus brings together in this single story 'the three characters of the [absurd] drama': 'the irrational ['this vast land' that denies man], human nostalgia [the desire to understand and belong] and the absurd [absolute meaninglessness] that springs from their encounter' (307). It is irrational for the guest to choose priso...

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The Guest by Albert Camus. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:12, April 21, 2019, from