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Albert Camus Quotes

  1. The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
  2. I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.
  3. A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.
  4. In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
  5. Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.
  6. You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
  7. Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
  8. Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
  9. Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.
  10. Those who lack the courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.
  11. Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.
  12. The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
  13. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.
  14. The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
  15. There is in me an anarchy and frightful disorder. Creating makes me die a thousand deaths, because it means making order, and my entire being rebels against order. But without it I would die, scattered to the winds.
  16. Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
  17. Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.
  18. He who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool.
  19. Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.
  20. The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
  21. To be happy we must not be too concerned with others.
  22. But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
  23. A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.
  24. A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
  25. Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
  26. Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.
  27. Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.
  28. No cause justifies the deaths of innocent people.
  29. We continue to shape our personality all our life. If we knew ourselves perfectly, we should die.
  30. We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives… inside ourselves.
  31. Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
  32. The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone.
  33. A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.
  34. Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.
  35. Charm is a way of getting the answer ‘Yes’ without asking a clear question.
  36. The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.
  37. All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.
  38. It is a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money.
  39. There is no love of life without despair of life.
  40. The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
  41. I know of only one duty, and that is to love.
  42. Integrity has no need of rules.
  43. The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism.
  44. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.
  45. Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself.
  46. Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face.
  47. An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.
  48. Don’t wait for the last judgment – it takes place every day.
  49. We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love – first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.
  50. It is necessary to fall in love… if only to provide an alibi for all the random despair you are going to feel anyway.
  51. For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.
  52. To know oneself, one should assert oneself.
  53. What is a rebel? A man who says no: but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation.
  54. As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means.
  55. Friendship often ends in love, but love in friendship – never.
  56. Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.
  57. Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others.
  58. Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep.
  59. There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.
  60. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.
  1. There will be no lasting peace either in the heart of individuals or in social customs until death is outlawed.
  2. In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.
  3. The society based on production is only productive, not creative.
  4. We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us towards death, the body maintains its irreparable lead.
  5. The world is never quiet, even its silence eternally resounds with the same notes, in vibrations which escape our ears. As for those that we perceive, they carry sounds to us, occasionally a chord, never a melody.
  6. All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football.
  7. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world. For the moment, it is all that links them together.
  8. It is not your paintings I like, it is your painting.
  9. By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more.
  10. Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road.
  11. Truly fertile Music, the only kind that will move us, that we shall truly appreciate, will be a Music conducive to Dream, which banishes all reason and analysis. One must not wish first to understand and then to feel. Art does not tolerate Reason.
  12. The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
  13. The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge.
  14. In order to exist, man must rebel, but rebellion must respect the limits that it discovers in itself – limits where minds meet, and in meeting, begin to exist.
  15. No matter what cause one defends, it will suffer permanent disgrace if one resorts to blind attacks on crowds of innocent people.
  16. I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice.
  17. Your successes and happiness are forgiven you only if you generously consent to share them.
  18. To correct a natural indifference I was placed half-way between misery and the sun. Misery kept me from believing that all was well under the sun, and the sun taught me that history wasn’t everything.
  19. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.
  20. At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.
  21. In order to exist just once in the world, it is necessary never again to exist.
  22. After all manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books. The true university of these days is a collection of books.
  23. All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the State.
  24. Every great work makes the human face more admirable and richer, and that is its whole secret.
  25. Lying is not only saying what isn’t true. It is also, in fact especially, saying more than is true and, in the case of the human heart, saying more than one feels. We all do it, every day, to make life simpler.
  26. Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.
  27. We are all special cases.
  28. Against eternal injustice, man must assert justice, and to protest against the universe of grief, he must create happiness.
  29. There is the good and the bad, the great and the low, the just and the unjust. I swear to you that all that will never change.
  30. Don’t believe your friends when they ask you to be honest with them. All they really want is to be maintained in the good opinion they have of themselves.
  31. One leader, one people, signifies one master and millions of slaves.
  32. Culture: the cry of men in face of their destiny.
  33. Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.
  34. Retaliation is related to nature and instinct, not to law. Law, by definition, cannot obey the same rules as nature.
  35. The myth of unlimited production brings war in its train as inevitably as clouds announce a storm.
  36. At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures – be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.
  37. To abandon oneself to principles is really to die – and to die for an impossible love which is the contrary of love.
  38. Man is an idea, and a precious small idea once he turns his back on love.
  39. The role of the intellectual cannot be to excuse the violence of one side and condemn that of the other.
  40. I was born poor and without religion, under a happy sky, feeling harmony, not hostility, in nature. I began not by feeling torn, but in plenitude.
  41. I draw from the Absurd three consequences: my revolt, my liberty, my passion.
  42. For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists. Why? Because the instincts that are warring in man are not, as the law claims, constant forces in a state of equilibrium.
  43. Men are never really willing to die except for the sake of freedom: therefore they do not believe in dying completely.
  44. Violence is both unavoidable and unjustifiable.
  45. Only a philosophy of eternity, in the world today, could justify non-violence.
  46. When you have really exhausted an experience you always reverence and love it.
  47. We rarely confide in those who are better than we are.
  48. Every revolutionary ends up either by becoming an oppressor or a heretic.
  49. It is normal to give away a little of one’s life in order not to lose it all.
  50. Note, besides, that it is no more immoral to directly rob citizens than to slip indirect taxes into the price of goods that they cannot do without.
  51. Virtue cannot separate itself from reality without becoming a principle of evil.
  52. How can sincerity be a condition of friendship? A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.
  53. Heroism is accessible. Happiness is more difficult.
  54. The day when I am no more than a writer I shall cease to be a writer.
  55. Real nobility is based on scorn, courage, and profound indifference.
  56. To be famous, in fact, one has only to kill one’s landlady.
  57. Man wants to live, but it is useless to hope that this desire will dictate all his actions.
  58. A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.
  59. I am not made for politics because I am incapable of wanting or accepting the death of the adversary.
  60. The desire for possession is insatiable, to such a point that it can survive even love itself. To love, therefore, is to sterilize the person one loves.
  1. Men are never really willing to die except for the sake of freedom: therefore they do not believe in dying completely.
  2. To cut short the question of the law of retaliation, we must note that even in its primitive form it can operate only between two individuals of whom one is absolutely innocent, and the other absolutely guilty. The victim, to be sure, is innocent. But can the society that is supposed to represent the victim lay claim to innocence?
  3. Every revolutionary ends up either by becoming an oppressor or a heretic.
  4. Every artist preserves deep within him a single source from which, throughout his lifetime, he draws what he is, and what he says. When the source dries up, the work withers and crumbles.
  5. The real passion of the twentieth century is servitude.
  6. Man wants to live, but it is useless to hope that this desire will dictate all his actions.
  7. To assert in any case that a man must be absolutely cut off from society because he is absolutely evil amounts to saying that society is absolutely good, and no-one in his right mind will believe this today.
  8. To govern means to pillage, as everyone knows.
  9. The desire for possession is insatiable, to such a point that it can survive even love itself. To love, therefore, is to sterilize the person one loves.
  10. How hard, how bitter it is to become a man!
  11. Every man needs slaves like he needs clean air. To rule is to breathe, is it not? And even the most disenfranchised get to breathe. The lowest on the social scale have their spouses or their children.
  12. Working conditions for me have always been those of the monastic life: solitude and frugality. Except for frugality, they are contrary to my nature, so much so that work is a violence I do to myself.
  13. Men are convinced of your arguments, your sincerity, and the seriousness of your efforts only by your death.
  14. After all, every murderer when he kills runs the risk of the most dreadful of deaths, whereas those who kill him risk nothing except promotion.
  15. Conscious of not being able to separate myself from my time, I have decided to become part of it.
  16. The only really committed artist is he who, without refusing to take part in the combat, at least refuses to join the regular armies and remains a freelance.
  17. Those who weep for the happy periods which they encounter in history acknowledge what they want; not the alleviation but the silencing of misery.
  18. In order to speak about all and to all, one has to speak of what all know and of the reality common to us all. The sea, rains, necessity, desire, the struggle against death… these are things that unite us all.
  19. Methods of thought which claim to give the lead to our world in the name of revolution have become, in reality, ideologies of consent and not of rebellion.
  20. To insure the adoration of a theorem for any length of time, faith is not enough, a police force is needed as well.
  21. Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.
  22. What the world requires of the Christians is that they should continue to be Christians.
  23. Martyrs, my friend, have to choose between being forgotten, mocked or used. As for being understood – never.
  24. We call first truths those we discover after all the others.
  25. You have to be very rich or very poor to live without a trade.
  26. Every man, and for stronger reasons, every artist, wants to be recognized. So do I.
  27. Every time somebody speaks of my honesty, there is someone who quivers inside me.
  28. I have never been able to renounce the light, the pleasure of being, and the freedom in which I grew up.

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