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Delicious descriptions from Down Under: Albert Camus on world peace

September 28, 2011

How’s this for a bit of communication across cultures: an Australian biographer reporting a French writer commenting on the death of an American president. It comes from the book I’ll be reviewing in the next couple of days, Hazel Rowley’s Franklin and Eleanor: An extraordinary marriage. In it Rowley quotes Albert Camus on the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945:

‘His face was the very image of happiness,’ Albert Camus wrote in the French Resistance newspaper, Combat. ‘History’s powerful men are not generally men of such good humour … There is not a single free human being who does not regret his loss and who would not have wished his destiny to have continued a little longer. World peace, that boundless good, ought to be planned by men with happy faces rather than by sad-eyed politicians.’

Somehow I didn’t expect something quite so sunny-sounding from Albert Camus, but perhaps I don’t know him as well as I thought I did. We are, I think, more cynical these days about the concept of “world peace” but we can still hope, can’t we? Does anyone know of any happy-faced world leaders out there that we can call on to promote the cause (besides the current Dalai Lama that is)?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2011 11:24 pm

    Oh, you and Albert Camus. Sometimes I think Dad should be worried… 😉

  2. September 29, 2011 1:29 am

    Wow, Camus is downright sunny in that quote. I wonder if he wasn’t feeling himself that day? Happy-faced world leaders seem to be in short supply these days.

    • September 29, 2011 8:19 am

      He clearly was … I wonder how often he was like that. Perhaps his novels belie his disposition?!

  3. September 29, 2011 10:35 pm

    Cannot imagine Monsieur Camus feeling this way. Love Hazel Rowley’s work and am curious about this one. You don’t think Barack Obama has a peace-inspiring smile? Trouble is, we have too much information about everything but the real and vital issues.

    • September 30, 2011 8:03 am

      This is my first Rowley … but I would like to read more, particularly her Christina Stead and the one on Richard Wright. Oh, and I suppose I’d like the Sartre/de Beauvoir one too! Obama … yes I suppose he does really, though I haven’t seen him smiling much lately. The art of being a politician – of having to compromise one’s ideas/ideals (as Roosevelt found too) – does not sit easily on all people I think.

      • October 1, 2011 2:03 am

        Yep you’ve just reminded me, must order the Simone de Beauvoir/Sartre one. Gosh I was obsessed with her, thought she was divine when I was a young thing.

        • October 1, 2011 8:20 am

          Yes, she was great – I’d love to read it too. Will watch out for your review!

  4. September 30, 2011 7:14 am

    I think one should not put too much weight on war-time editorials. Nor, for that matter, in smiles–Eisenhower had quite a smile, too, but he and Roosevelt could be as ruthless as they considered they had to be.

    • September 30, 2011 8:06 am

      Now that wasn’t kind to burst our bubble, George! As for smiles, what’s that song? Ah yes, “Never smile at a crocodile, Don’t be taken in by his cheery grin?”. I suppose you’re right!

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