Camus letter to Sartre reveals their early friendship


A newly discovered letter between philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, better known for their feud rather than their friendship, reveals they were on talking and socialising terms in the mid 1940s.


Philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus are better known for their feud rather than their friendship. But a newly discovered letter has shed light on their early friendship, before they fell out over the need for “revolutionary violence”.

The handwritten note was found in an original edition of Sartre’s writings, of which only 60 copies were published, by two booksellers in Orléans.

"My dear Sartre (...) let me know when you return, we will spend a free evening together," the letter begins.

"We have done some bad work, my friends and I; so bad that I'm sleeping badly," Camus' letter continues. The 'bad work' is believed to refer to an aborted plan to stage one of his plays.

The letter is not dated but is thought to have been written between 1943 and 1948, before the pair fell out in 1952.

"This letter is very important. It shows that, contrary to what some authors have written, Sartre and Camus were friends and supported each other," Ronald Aronson, a Sartre specialist told AFP.

But its discovery has left others baffled. "No response, no reliable testimony sheds light on this mystery, all correspondence between the two men has been destroyed," said Eva Valentin, one of the booksellers who found the letter.

The letter will be on display next month at an exhibition to celebrate Camus’ centenary. ‘Camus: From Tipsa to Lourmarin’ will run from 3-8 September.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)


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