The Rebel (L’Homme Révolté, 1951)
Critics consider L’Hommé Révolté, or The Rebel, one of Camus’ most important non-fiction works. While The Myth of Sisyphus shows more polish at times, The Rebel is the most comprehensive exploration of Camus’ beliefs. There are weaknesses in The Rebel but the public found the work approachable — and made it a best seller.
The book began as an essay, “Remarque sur la révolté,” written in 1945. This Commentary on Revolt attempted to explain Camus’ definition of revolt. In the essay Camus’ explains that a revolt is not the same as a “revolution.” Camus’ lexicon defines “revolt” as a peaceful, evolutionary process. He hoped that mankind would evolve toward improved societies. Socialism is the result of a natural historical process that does require effort and leadership, but not violence.
“Revolution is not revolt. It was revolt which bolstered the Resistance for four years. It was the complete, obstinate refusal, almost blind at the beginning, of an order which wanted to bring men to their knees. Revolt stems first of all from the heart, but a time comes when it passes to the spirit, where feeling becomes idea, where spontaneous fervor leads to direct action. This is the moment of revolution.”
– Excerpt from The Rebel