Constructions of Europe in the fictional and political works of Albert Camus
Little of the vast literature on Albert Camus has been devoted to his ideas of Europe. Existing material is either biographical criticism or portrays Camus as pioneer and visionary of modem-day European integration. Though useful, these interpretations do not do justice to the complex plurality of Europe in Camus's ceuvre, which appears in several of his works. It is depicted in differing and intriguing ways, for example as a sombre, divided continent of despair (in the fictional works) or as an aspiration towards European unity as a means of preventing future war (in the political journalism). This thesis examines these manifestations with three aims. The first is to situate Camus's political discourse of Europe (his calls for European integration and related matters) within the history of ideas of Europe, highlighting his negotiation with and adoption of Europeanist discourses. Secondly, the thesis analyses Camus's fictional inscription of an imaginary Europe of fault lines and division using a space in literature approach and a Barthesian understanding of the antithesis. Thirdly, instances of dialogue within the ceuvre between his fictional and political discourses of Europe will be examined. The epistemological grounding for this is provided by Bakhtin's theories of the novel: Europe is conceived of as a multiplicity of overlapping discourses with which Camus relates dialogically, and between whose works there exists a similar dialogue of Europe. Such an approach offers both a new way of reading Camus's treatment of Europe and, potentially, of reading the history of the idea of Europe itself.