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Signed book, First edition

Albert CAMUS Les justes

Albert CAMUS

Les justes

Gallimard, Paris 1950, 11,5x18cm, reliure de l'éditeur.

CAMUS Albert
Les Justes [The Just Assassins] Gallimard, Paris 1950, 115 x 180 mm (4 1/2 x 7 1/16 ”), publisher's paper binding
First edition, one of the 1050copies numbered 1050 on alfa mousse paper.
Publisher's paper binding with an original design by Mario Prassinos.
A handsome and important inscription from Albert Camus to René Char:
“à René Char, frère de ceux-ci, dont il a fait toute la route avec l'admiration et l'affection de son ami. / Albert Camus”. [To René Char, brother of the undersigned, with whom he has been there all the way, with admiration and affection from his friend / Albert Camus.]
The friendship between Albert Camus and René Char is among the most touching and most fruitful in French literature.
There was nothing obvious to bring together the Algerian journalist and author and the Provençal poet, much less to suggest a mutual affinity. Camus had not come across Char's poetry and Char had no taste for novels, apart from those of Maurice Blanchot.
Nonetheless, it is through their respective works that the two artists found out about each other and developed a mutual respect. So – before Camus and Char actually met – they had met through Caligula and Hypnos – both illustrating the poet's responsibility in the face of the violent world.
“So in our darkness Beauty has no given space. All that space is for Beauty” (Char, Feuillets d'Hypnos).
It is this mutual need for Beauty as a political response to the outrageousness of ideologies that united the two artists at the end of the war.
Catalyst to their friendship, this first “acknowledgment” inaugurated a twelve-year correspondence, during the course of which their mutual affection grew and revealed an artistic convergence:
“I believe that our brotherhood – on all levels – goes even deeper than we think and feel” (Char to Camus, 3 November 1951).“What a great and profound thing it is to detach oneself bit by bit from all that and all those who are worth nothing and to find little by little over the years and across borders a community of spirit. Like with many of us, who all at once feel ourselves finally becoming of ‘the few'” (Camus to Char, 26 February 1950).
These ‘few' are a reference to a quotation from Gide: “I believe in the virtue of small numbers; the world will be saved by a few,” whom Char and Camus tried to bring together in establishing the Empédocle review: “It is perhaps time that ‘the few' Gide talked about came together,” as Camus wrote to Guilloux in January 1949. They published writing by Gracq, Melville, Grenier, Guilloux, Blanchot, Ponge, Rilke, Kafka, and so on. However, internal dissension soon engulfed the review and they abandoned the project together.
Their friendship, however, remained unblemished. The two men met regularly in Provence, where Char was from and – thanks to him – Camus' adopted home.
They showed each other their manuscripts and confided in each other with their doubts: “The more I produce the less sure I become. Night falls ever thicker on the artist's path, his way. Eventually, he dies completely blind. My only hope is that there is still light inside, somewhere, and though he cannot see it, it continues to shine nonetheless. But how can one be sure? That is why one must rely on a friend, one who knows and understands, one who is walking that same path.”
They inscribed works to each other (the reprints of Feuillets d'Hypnos and Actuelles) and in each new copy wrote inscriptions in which they both reinforced their comradeship in arms and in spirit.
“to René Char who helps me live, awaiting our kingdom, his friend and brother in hope,” (manuscript of The Plague).
“For Albert Camus, one of the very rare men I admire and love and whose work is the honor of our times. René Char,” (Fureur et mystère)
“[to René Char], fellow traveler, this guidebook to a mutual voyage into the time of men, waiting for noon. Affectionately, Albert Camus,” (Actuelles I)
“For Albert Camus, whose friendship and work form a Presence that illuminates and fortifies the eyes,” (Art bref).
“Oh if only poets would agree to become again what they were before: seers who speak to us of all that is possible...If they only gave us a foretaste of virtues to come. Nietzsche.”
To you, dear René, the only poet of your time who responded to this call, from your faithful brother, A. C (Actuelles II)
This communion reached its climax when Les Justes and Matinaux were published […] “The first copy of Matinaux on papier de tête will be for you and sent by myself. […] If a book is written for someone, this one is for you (written and breathed). “This is a rare face, loved and admired, thought and heart are applying on the earth of a book. So is yours.”
Camus answers to this inscription on the grand papier (deluxe copies) of Les Justes: “To René Char the first on the way to light, These Justes that were waiting for his Matinaux to be eventually justified, with the fraternal friendship of Albert Camus. “
Before this copy, Camus had Char send a press service, without any inscription “to keep you waiting. The one I am setting aside for you is waiting for me in Paris and I will dedicate it for you as you wish.”
Our copy has perhaps been sent in October 1953 with the other « bound » (les cartonnages Prassinos – cf. letter of 23 October 1953).
Written at that date, the inscription of Camus on this work gains in importance: last opus of the cycle on revolt, Les Justes calls for the great theoretical work of Camus, L'Homme révolté, which triggers the attacks and enmities from the French intelligentsia, including Sartre. Camus is deeply affected by the strong misunderstanding from his peers. René Char, who was aware of the long maturation of the work, is one of the few who defended publicly “this great relief book, pathetic and accurate as a trepanned head”.
A short while before the book was published, as Char was completing the reading of a manuscript, he wrote a prophetic letter to his friend: “After having read your Homme révolté over and over, I tried to find out who and which work – most essential- was the closest to you and to your work today? No one and no work […] I have admired to which familiar extent (which does not make you out of reach, and showing your solidarity exposes you to all blows) you have unwound your thunder thread and common sense. What a generous courage! […] How beautiful it is to sink into the truth.”
This very truth facing his own violence is treated in Les Justes in which Camus actually dedicates a whole chapter in his essay.
Regarding Les Justes, Char wrote in 1949: “a great work whose persisting heart has just started beating”. In 1951, he finds himself involved “in a fierce battle (starting with L'Homme révolté) of the only arguments –  actions for the benefit to mankind, preserving the risks and moves.”
When including the inscription in Les Justes, Camus of course expresses his gratitude for his support, but above all underlines their common belonging to an infinite community of “the very few”. Like this letter he addresses to Char on 26 October 1951, after L'Homme révolté was published:
“You know at least that you are not alone in this search. What perhaps you do not perceive well is to which extent you are a need for those who love you and who without you, would not be worth much. I am speaking for myself: I have never resigned myself to see life lose its meaning and its blood. […] One speaks about the grief of living. But this is not true, it is grief of not living we ought to say. […] Without you, without two or three beings I respect and cherish, things would definitely lack depth. Perhaps I have not told you that enough. […].There are so few opportunities for true friendship today, that men have become too modest sometimes.”
On Camus' death, Char published La Postérité du soleil, the work they wrote together in 1952, an homage to their friendship and to that “hinterland which is the image of our own, invisible to others.”
A very attractive copy with an exceptional provenance.

Voir notre article
France Culture: L'amitié dangeureuse. Camus et Char : versions du soleil
France Culture : La postérité du soleil-correspondance entre Albert Camus et René Char
France Culture : Camus et Char : versions du soleil
France Culture: Albert Camus et René Char, les deux poètes

25 000 €

Réf : 46995



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