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The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt Paperback – January 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (January 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679733841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679733843
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Rebel is a piece of reasoning in the great tradition of French logic....But what is so exhilarating about Camus's essay is that here is the voice of a man of unshakable decency." -- Atlantic

"Camus's book is one of the extremely few that express the contemporary hour...yet profoundly transcend it." -- New Republic

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Customer Reviews

In all his works, Camus is generally good with analysis but poor in his conclusions.
Vinay Varma
Flat out, I find this book Camus' masterpiece and if all his other books were destroyed, this one alone would make him seem genius.... Why is this book so good?
J. Michael Showalter
He must either raise a defiant fist to the giants of power, or he must give way to these minds that are utterly without scruples.
Trystero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Trystero on October 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I first became interested in Albert Camus after reading a quote from The Rebel online. "I rebel, therefore we exist" was the quote, and I must admit that, after reading the book, there has never been anything truer written. When I was in a bookstore a few months ago I found a copy of The Rebel, which is apparently a rare sight these days, since The Rebel is often ignored. Camus is one of the most famous writers of the 20th century, so why would one of his masterpieces be ignored?

It has been ignored, from what I can gather, because it is a philosophical work in which Camus pulls no punches and examines thoroughly why the excessive crime and violence of our era exist. Camus explains how, in both philosophy and politics, the reigning attitude has been one of nihilism for the past two centuries. This nihilism, being necessarily without an aim, leads to dictatorship and gross amounts of suffering for humans, no matter what principles it claims on the surface. Camus systematically destroys those who have used the philosophies of Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, surrealism, u.s.w., to justify their murderous plots.

Camus proposes that instead of nihilism and murder, we take to heart the ancient concepts of moderation and responsibility. Camus' destruction of modern governents and his proposals of these ancient ideas seem to have made this book unpopular. In this era of oppression, it is easy to ignore what offends us or makes us think. Camus gives the reader no choice. He must either raise a defiant fist to the giants of power, or he must give way to these minds that are utterly without scruples. I admire Camus deeply because of this--he has summed up the ideas I have been carrying around for years--but some will be deeply hurt by his comments. I leave you with a final thought: everyone is partly to blame for the state of the present and the future. You have the choice to make it either good or bad.
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95 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on January 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
I wrote my college entrance essay on this book (Let's not say how long ago, but I was accepted.) and just recently went back to reread it and compare my impressions now to my impressions then, when it was one of my favorite books. I found it still holds up as a fine piece of literature as well as an inspiring example of personal courage. As another reader has pointed out, Camus was ostracized, more or less, by the French literary establishment after the book's publication. I still find the chapter on metaphysical rebellion the best. Camus has a fine understanding of the English Romantic poets and what, for many, their rebellion consisted of: "The Byronic hero, incapable of love, or capable only of an impossible love, suffers endlessly. He is solitary, languid, his condition exhausts him. If he wants to feel alive, it must be in the terrible exaltation of a brief and destructive action. To love someone whom one will never see again is to give a cry of exultation as one perishes in the flames of passion. One lives only in and for the moment, in order to achieve 'the brief and vivid union of a tempestuous heart united to the tempest'(Lermentov)" This is as an acute a dissection of the raison d'etre of the "Byronic hero" as I've read in any English criticism (and believe me, I've read a lot!). The passages on Nietzsche are also exquisite. He gets to the root of many of the great thinker's ideas by quoting the lines that come from the heart: "the most painful, the most heartbreaking question, that of the heart that asks itself: where can I feel at home?"-The passages on Milton are exquisite as well.-The whole book is a well-rounded philosophical enterprise that touches both the heart and the mind.Read more ›
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
In his novels -- short and to the point -- Camus strove to embody a philosophy. THE REBEL, probably his best, most sustained work, talks about that philosophy at length. He takes something of the same viewpoint as Robert Lindner -- who insisted that the rebellious and protestant in man is what is best in him, not the docile and quiescent -- and explores that viewpoint exhilaratingly and totally. He also does something no modern philosopher or critic has done well, to my mind, which is give de Sade a proper shakedown. (Most intellectuals who have a flirtation with de Sade's writings and pseudo-philosophy -- not all that far removed from Ayn Rand's, come to think of it -- wind up contriving some kind of argument for the man as a martyr of intellectual freedom. Nothing could be further than the truth, and Camus makes a good case for that.) The best thing about the book is its tone -- lofty without being snooty, intellectual without being distant, and passionate without being sentimental. It's not a hard read, and it has the flavor of a conversation with a man who makes you stop and say to yourself, "Yes -- why didn't I think that before, in so many words...?"
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Critics of Albert Camus consider L'Homme Révolté, or The Rebel to one of Camus' most important non-fiction works. While Le Mythe de Sisyphe is far more polished, The Rebel is the most comprehensive exploration of Camus' beliefs. There are weaknesses in The Rebel, as in most rhetorical works, but the public found the work accessible and, as a result, made it a bestseller.
The book begins as an essay "Remarque sur la révolté," written in 1945. This "Commentary on Revolt" attempted to explain Camus' definition of the word, "revolt." In the essay, Camus' explains that a revolt is not the same as a "revolution." Camus' lexicon define "revolt" as a peaceful, evolutionary process. He had hoped that mankind would evolve toward improved societies. In his ideal, socialism is the result of a natural historical process that does require effort and leadership, but not violence.
"Remarque sur la révolt" begins with a civil servant refusing an order. For Camus, revolt begins with a single person refusing an immoral choice. Laws and rule are not defensible for Camus unless they are meant to help society at all levels. The civil servant in the opening parable is an existential hero, though Camus would have rejected such a label. The bureaucrat makes a decision based not upon what is easiest for him but what is best for him and society as a whole. This man's revolt is resistance, not violence.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's works are the primary target of The Rebel. While not a perfect treatment of Hegel, Camus argues that Hegel's works glorified the state and power over personal morality and social ethics.
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