Albert Camus (7 November 1913 4 January 1960) was a Nobel Prize-winning French Algerian novelist, playwright, essayist, and philosopher according to Jean-Paul Sartre, although Camus famously denied the last.
He is best known for his novels The Stranger and The Plague, and for his essay "The Myth of Sisyphus". He was a member of the French Resistance during World War II, editing the underground journal "Combat" (Fight in french). He is considered a central figure in Existentialism and Absurdism.
Camus worked as a journalist and essayist, contributing a number of articles on several important issues of the day. He was particularly fascinated by the question of the death penalty, believing that execution by the state was immoral, even when the person sentenced was guilty of the crime of murder. Such questions informed his famous works of fiction.
Politically, Camus was controversial among the French Left for his rejection of Communism, his belief that violence in any context, even in the case of revolution and resistance, was unjustified. This became problematic for Camus during the situation of the Algerian War of Independence, where he denounced violence on both sides, and equated the activities of the anti-colonialist FLN with those of the French state. This heightened his break with Sartre who argued for an uncompromising anti-colonialism, and it hurt Camus' standing among other intellectuals of the Third World such as Edward Said and Frantz Fanon.
Camus was working on his final novel when he died in a car crash at the rather young age of 47. He is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century, namely for being the first to question and challenge the reader's sympathy with protagonists and questioning the nature of motivations and the extent to which environment, personality, and ideas drive our actions and everyday life. Despite the seriousness of his work, he is considered a highly accessible writer, and he was popular in France, and among college students in the Anglophone world. This is because Camus wanted to write for a non-academic audience, and he was highly inspired by a number of popular writers. Likewise, his works are often short, and written in the French version of Beige Prose, clear and lucid to follow, straightforward in its outline of plot, with the main ambiguity being the characters' often unmotivated actions and sense of being.