Camus on the Novel as the Best Vessel for Philosophy

“People can only think in images. If you want to be a philosopher, write novels.”

Albert Camus, Notebooks I (1935-1942)
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Albert Camus wrote these words in one of his personal journals and how fortunate we are that they were published posthumously.

Unbelievably, there was once a time when I pondered what the relevance of philosophy was to literature. Naturally, it followed soon enough that I learned the purpose of the novel: to not only philosophize, but to demonstrate it (there could be another conversation here but for the sake of brevity). In its demonstration, one might immediately assume that Camus is correct, that the novel is the best vessel for philosophy.

Yet, years later, I can envision many angles to the conversation. For instance, we might consider the straightforwardness of a purely philosophical text. There is something to be admired in the author who puts it bluntly and quickly. For an engineer, such a text might be far superior to the longwinded and ambiguous novel. Still, beauty and demonstration might be worth the energy.

Furthermore, looking back on this note from 2021, I am ripe to say that the film or television series may be the best place for philosophy. I have seen Kubrick pack more than a novel into an image and writers such as Nic Pizzolatto consider television the most accessible and engaging place to philosophize. Indeed, you are sure to meet disappointment hoping your novel or blog will inspire a generation today.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Another thanks to the Albert Camus Facebook which, as I understand Camus more, becomes all the more brilliant. It is well moderated with wonderful excerpts and images and I highly recommend it to anyone.

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