Camus’ Letters to a German Friend, a Warning for Our Times

Albert Camus
Albert Camus, 1944, Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sunday, November 7, marks what would have been the 108th birthday of Nobel Prize winner, Albert Camus. During World War II, Camus joined the French Resistance, a movement dedicated to overthrowing the Germans. Camus lent his genius to the clandestine effort by working as a journalist and underground newspaper editor. More than a year before the end of the war, Camus began writing a series of letters to a hypothetical German friend. Like all great philosophers, much of what he wrote rings true today. In the current climate of misinformation and nationalistic cries for civil war, I found Camus’ letters to be strikingly relevant and I’ve posted the first one, as well as an English translation, below.

The Mind of a Humanitarian

In the speech that Camus gave upon accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, he said that a writer “cannot serve today those who make history; he must serve those who are subject to it.” His four Letters to a German Friend, which appeared in various clandestine publications, were intended to do just that. Camus had meant for the letters to inspire his countrymen and did not expect them to be read after the war.

In 1948, Camus agreed to their publication in Italy provided that readers understood the full context of his writing. He added a short preface in which he expressed concern for the now defeated German people. The tone of the letters, he felt, could be misinterpreted. To clarify his thinking, he added a caveat:

When the author of these letters says “you”, he doesn’t mean “you Germans” but “you Nazis”. When he says “we”, this doesn’t always signify “we Frenchmen” but “we free Europeans”. It is two attitudes that I bring into opposition, not two nations, even if, at a certain moment of history, these two nations incarnated two enemy attitudes. To repeat a remark that is not mine, I love my country too much to be a nationalist.

Albert Camus, from the preface of Letters to a German Friend

La Première Lettre, The First Letter

Below you’ll find Camus’ first letter, written in July 1943. I took most of the English text from a book of Camus essays, titled Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, which contains translations by Justin O’Brien. In places, I’ve altered O’Brien’s words.

Vous me disiez : « La grandeur de mon pays n’a pas de prix. Tout est bon qui la consomme. Et dans un monde où plus rien n’a de sens, ceux qui, comme nous, jeunes Allemands, ont la chance d’en trouver un au destin de leur nation doivent tout lui sacrifier. » Je vous aimais alors, mais c’est là que, déjà, je me séparais de vous. « Non, vous disais-je, je ne puis croire qu’il faille tout asservir au but que l’on poursuit. Il est des moyens qui ne s’excusent pas. Et je voudrais pouvoir aimer mon pays tout en aimant la justice. Je ne veux pas pour lui de n’importe quelle grandeur, fût-ce celle du sang et du mensonge. C’est en faisant vivre la justice que je veux le faire vivre. » Vous m’avez dit : « Allons, vous n’aimez pas votre pays. »

You used to say to me, “The greatness of my country has no price. Anything is good that contributes to its greatness. And in a world where nothing any longer makes sense, those who, like us young Germans, are lucky enough to find meaning in the destiny of our nation, must sacrifice everything for it.” I loved you then, but at that point already I was distancing myself from you. “No.” I told you, “I cannot believe that everything must be subordinated to a single end. Some means are inexcusable. And I would like to be able to love my country all while loving justice. I don’t want just any greatness for my country if such is to come from blood and falsehood. It’s through upholding justice that I want my country to flourish.” You said to me, “Well, you don’t love your country.”

Il y a cinq ans de cela, nous sommes séparés depuis ce temps et je puis dire qu’il n’est pas un jour de ces longues années (si brèves, si fulgurantes pour vous !) où je n’aie eu votre phrase à l’esprit. « Vous n’aimez pas votre pays ! » Quand je pense aujourd’hui à ces mots, j’ai dans la gorge quelque chose qui se serre. Non, je ne l’aimais pas, si c’est ne pas aimer que de dénoncer ce qui n’est pas juste dans ce que nous aimons, si c’est ne pas aimer que d’exiger que l’être aimé s’égale à la plus belle image que nous avons de lui. Il y a cinq ans de cela, beaucoup d’hommes pensaient comme moi en France. Quelques-uns parmi eux, pourtant, se sont déjà trouvés devant les douze petits yeux noirs du destin allemand. Et ces hommes, qui selon vous n’aimaient pas leur pays, ont plus fait pour lui que vous ne ferez jamais pour le vôtre, même s’il vous était possible de donner cent fois votre vie pour lui. Car ils ont eu à se vaincre d’abord et c’est leur héroïsme. Mais je parle ici de deux sortes de grandeur et d’une contradiction sur laquelle je vous dois de vous éclairer.

That was five years ago; we have been separated since then and I can say that not a single day has passed during those long years (so brief, so dazzlingly swift for you!) where I didn’t think of your remark. “You don’t love your country!” When I think of these words today, something tightens in my throat. No, I didn’t love my country, if denouncing that which is unjust about what we love amounts to not loving, if insisting that what we love should measure up to the finest image we have of her amounts to not loving. That was five years ago, and many men in France thought as I did. Some of them, however, have already been stood up against the wall facing the twelve little black eyes of German destiny. And those men, who in your opinion did not love their country, did more for it than you will ever do for yours, even if it were possible for you to give your life a hundred times. For their heroism was that they had to conquer themselves first. But I am speaking here of two kinds of greatness and of a contradiction about which I must enlighten you.

Nous nous reverrons bientôt si cela est possible. Mais alors, notre amitié sera finie. Vous serez plein de votre défaite et vous n’aurez pas honte de votre ancienne victoire, la regrettant plutôt de toutes vos forces écrasées. Aujourd’hui, je suis encore près de vous par l’esprit – votre ennemi, il est vrai, mais encore un peu votre ami puisque je vous livre ici toute ma pensée. Demain, ce sera fini. Ce que votre victoire n’aura pu entamer, votre défaite l’achèvera. Mais du moins, avant que nous fassions l’épreuve de l’indifférence, je veux vous laisser une idée claire de ce que ni la paix ni la guerre ne vous ont appris à connaître dans le destin de mon pays.

We shall soon meet again, if possible. But then our friendship will be over. You will be full of your defeat and you won’t feel shame for your former victory. Rather, you will long for it with all your crushed might. Today I am still close to you in spirit-—your enemy, to be sure, but still somewhat your friend because I leave here for you all of my thoughts. Tomorrow this will be over. What your victory could not bring about, your defeat will bring to an end. But at least, before we become indifferent to each other, I want to leave you a clear idea of what neither peace nor war has taught you to recognize in the destiny of my country.

Je veux vous dire tout de suite quelle sorte de grandeur nous met en marche. Mais c’est vous dire quel est le courage que nous applaudissons et qui n’est pas le vôtre. Car c’est peu de chose que de savoir courir au feu quand on s’y prépare depuis toujours et quand la course vous est plus naturelle que la pensée. C’est beaucoup au contraire que d’avancer vers la torture et vers la mort, quand on sait de science certaine que la haine et la violence sont choses vaines par elles-mêmes. C’est beaucoup que de se battre en méprisant la guerre, d’accepter de tout perdre en gardant le goût du bonheur, de courir à la destruction avec l’idée d’une civilisation supérieure. C’est en cela que nous faisons plus que vous parce que nous avons à prendre sur nous-mêmes. Vous n’avez rien eu à vaincre dans votre cœur, ni dans votre intelligence. Nous avions deux ennemis et triompher par les armes ne nous suffisait pas, comme à vous qui n’aviez rien à dominer.

I want to tell you at once what sort of greatness sets us in motion. But this amounts to telling you what kind of courage we applaud, which is not your kind. For it is not much to know how to take up arms when you have been preparing for it for years and when the errand is more natural to you than thinking. It is much to the contrary to advance towards torture and death when you know with scientific certainty that hatred and violence are empty things in themselves. It is a great deal to fight while despising war, to accept losing everything while guarding the taste of happiness, to run towards destruction with the idea of a higher civilization. It is in this way that we do more than you because we have to confront ourselves. You had nothing to conquer in your heart, nor in your intelligence. We had two enemies, and a military victory was not enough for us, as it was for you who had nothing within yourselves to overcome.

Nous avions beaucoup à dominer et peut-être pour commencer la perpétuelle tentation où nous sommes de vous ressembler. Car il y a toujours en nous quelque chose qui se laisse aller à l’instinct, au mépris de l’intelligence, au culte de l’efficacité. Nos grandes vertus finissent par nous lasser. L’intelligence nous donne honte et nous imaginons parfois quelque heureuse barbarie où la vérité serait sans effort. Mais sur ce point, la guérison est facile : vous êtes là qui nous montrez ce qu’il en est de l’imagination, et nous nous redressons. Si je croyais à quelque fatalisme de l’histoire, je supposerais que vous vous tenez à nos côtés, ilotes de l’intelligence, pour notre correction. Nous renaissons alors à l’esprit, nous y sommes plus à l’aise.

We had much to overcome and perhaps first of all, the perpetual temptation to emulate you. For there is always something in us that yields to instinct, to contempt for intelligence, to the cult of efficiency. Our great virtues eventually become tiresome to us. We become ashamed of our intelligence, and we imagine at times some happy savagery where truth would be effortless. But to this point, the cure is easy: you are there to show us what such imagining would lead to, and we straighten up. If I believed in some fatalism of history, I would imagine you at our sides, helots of intelligence, to correct us. Thus, are our spirits reborn, and there we are more at ease.

Mais nous avions encore à vaincre ce soupçon où nous tenions l’héroïsme. Je le sais, vous nous croyez étrangers à l’héroïsme. Vous vous trompez. Simplement, nous le professons et nous en méfions à la fois. Nous le professons parce que dix siècles d’histoire nous ont donné la science de tout ce qui est noble. Nous nous en méfions parce que dix siècles d’intelligence nous ont appris l’art et les bienfaits du naturel. Pour nous présenter devant vous, nous avons dû revenir de loin. Et c’est pourquoi nous sommes en retard sur toute l’Europe, précipitée au mensonge dès qu’il le fallait, pendant que nous nous mêlions de chercher la vérité. C’est pourquoi nous avons commencé par la défaite, préoccupés que nous étions, pendant que vous vous jetiez sur nous, de définir en nos cœurs si le bon droit était pour nous.

However, we still had to conquer this suspicion we held of heroism. I know, you think that heroism is alien to us. You are wrong. It’s just that we avow heroism and are wary of it at the same time. We avow it because ten centuries of history have given us knowledge of all that is noble. We are wary of it because ten centuries of intelligence have taught us the art and beneficence of nature. In order to face you, we had to first come back from the brink. And this is why we fell behind all of Europe, which hurried toward falsehood the moment it was necessary, while we meddled with seeking truth. This is why we were defeated in the beginning, preoccupied as we were, while you were falling upon us, with determining in our hearts whether right was on our side.

Nous avons eu à vaincre notre goût de l’homme, l’image que nous nous faisions d’un destin pacifique, cette conviction profonde où nous étions qu’aucune victoire ne paie, alors que toute mutilation de l’homme est sans retour. Il nous a fallu renoncer à la fois à notre science et à notre espoir, aux raisons que nous avions d’aimer et à la haine où nous tenions toute guerre. Pour vous le dire d’un mot que je suppose que vous allez comprendre, venant de moi dont vous aimiez serrer la main, nous avons dû faire taire notre passion de l’amitié.

We had to conquer our weakness for mankind, the image we had formed of a peaceful destiny, that deep-rooted conviction of ours that no victory ever pays, whereas any mutilation of mankind is irrevocable. We had to give up all at the same time: our knowledge and our hope; the reasons we had for loving; and the hatred we held for all wars. To put it in a word that I suspect you will understand, coming from me with whom you loved to shake hands, we had to silence our passion for friendship.

Maintenant cela est accompli. Il nous a fallu un long détour, nous avons beaucoup de retard. C’est le détour que le scrupule de vérité fait faire à l’intelligence, le scrupule d’amitié au cœur. C’est le détour qui a sauvegardé la justice, mis la vérité du côté de ceux qui s’interrogeaient. Et sans doute, nous l’avons payé très cher. Nous l’avons payé en humiliations et en silences, en amertumes, en prisons, en matins d’exécutions, en abandons, en séparations, en faims quotidiennes, en enfants décharnés, et plus que tout en pénitences forcées. Mais cela était dans l’ordre. Il nous a fallu tout ce temps pour aller voir si nous avions le droit de tuer des hommes, s’il nous était permis d’ajouter à l’atroce misère de ce monde. Et c’est ce temps perdu et retrouvé, cette défaite acceptée et surmontée, ces scrupules payés par le sang, qui nous donnent le droit, à nous Français, de penser aujourd’hui, que nous étions entrés dans cette guerre les mains pures – de la pureté des victimes et des convaincus – et que nous allons en sortir les mains pures – mais de la pureté, cette fois, d’une grande victoire remportée contre l’injustice et contre nous-mêmes.

Now we have done that. We had to take a long detour and we are far behind. It is a detour that the regard for truth imposes on intelligence, the regard for friendship at its core. It is a detour that safeguarded justice and put truth on the side of those who questioned themselves. And, without a doubt, we paid very dearly for it. We paid for it with humiliations and silences, with bitter experiences, with prison sentences, with executions at dawn, with desertions, with separations, with daily pangs of hunger, with emaciated children, and, above all, with forced repentance. But that’s the way things go. It took us all that time to find out if we had the right to kill men, if we were allowed to add to the atrocious misery of this world. And it is this time lost and recaptured, this defeat accepted and surmounted, these scruples paid for with blood, that give us the right, we the French, to think today that we entered this war with hands clean—washed with the purity of victims and the condemned—and that we will come out of this with hands clean—but this time washed with the purity of a great victory won against injustice and over ourselves.

Car nous serons vainqueurs, vous n’en doutez pas. Mais nous serons vainqueurs grâce à cette défaite même, à ce long cheminement qui nous a fait trouver nos raisons, à cette souffrance dont nous avons senti l’injustice et tiré la leçon. Nous y avons appris le secret de toute victoire et si nous ne le perdons pas un jour, nous connaîtrons la victoire définitive. Nous y avons appris que contrairement à ce que nous pensions parfois, l’esprit ne peut rien contre l’épée, mais que l’esprit uni à l’épée est le vainqueur éternel de l’épée tirée pour elle-même. Voilà pourquoi nous avons accepté maintenant l’épée, après nous être assurés que l’esprit était avec nous. Il nous a fallu pour cela voir mourir et risquer de mourir, il nous a fallu la promenade matinale d’un ouvrier français marchant à la guillotine, dans les couloirs de sa prison, et exhortant ses camarades, de porte en porte, à montrer leur courage. Il nous a fallu enfin, pour nous emparer de l’esprit, la torture de notre chair. On ne possède bien que ce qu’on a payé. Nous avons payé chèrement et nous paierons encore. Mais nous avons nos certitudes, nos raisons, notre justice : votre défaite est inévitable.

For we shall be victorious, you may be sure of it. But we shall be victorious thanks to that very defeat, to that long journey of reflection through which we found our justification, to that suffering from which we felt the pain of injustice and learned our lesson. We learned the secret of any victory, and if we don’t lose this secret, we shall know final victory. We learned that, contrary to what we sometimes used to think, the spirit is of no avail against the sword, but that the spirit together with the sword will always win out over the sword alone. That is why we have now accepted the sword, after making sure that the spirit was on our side. We had to first see people die and to risk dying ourselves. We had to witness the morning walk of a French worker on his way to the guillotine, down the corridors of his prison, exhorting his comrades, from cell to cell, to show their courage. Finally, to possess ourselves of the spirit, we had to endure the torture of our flesh. We paid dearly and we will have more to pay. However, we have our convictions, our reasoning, our justice: your defeat is inevitable.

Je n’ai jamais cru au pouvoir de la vérité par elle-même. Mais c’est déjà beaucoup de savoir qu’à énergie égale, la vérité l’emporte sur le mensonge. C’est à ce difficile équilibre que nous sommes parvenus. C’est appuyés sur cette nuance qu’aujourd’hui nous combattons. Et je serais tenté de vous dire que nous luttons justement pour des nuances, mais des nuances qui ont l’importance de l’homme même. Nous luttons pour cette nuance qui sépare le sacrifice de la mystique, l’énergie de la violence, la force de la cruauté, pour cette plus faible nuance encore qui sépare le faux du vrai et l’homme que nous espérons des dieux lâches que vous révérez.

 I have never believed in the power of truth alone. But it is worth knowing that when given equal energy, truth wins out over falsehood. It is at this difficult equilibrium that we have arrived. It is bolstered by this nuance that today we fight. And I would be tempted to tell you that we are fighting for fine distinctions, but distinctions that are as important as man himself. We are fighting for this nuance that separates sacrifice from mysticism, energy from violence, strength from cruelty, for this feeble distinction that separates the false from the true, and the man we hope for from the cowardly gods you revere.

Voilà ce que je voulais vous dire, non par-dessus la mêlée, mais dans la mêlée elle-même. Voilà ce que je voulais répondre à ce « vous n’aimez pas votre pays » qui me poursuit encore. Mais je veux être clair avec vous. Je crois que la France a perdu sa puissance et son règne pour longtemps et qu’il lui faudra pendant longtemps une patience désespérée, une révolte attentive pour retrouver la part de prestige nécessaire à toute culture. Mais je crois qu’elle a perdu tout cela pour des raisons pures. Et c’est pourquoi l’espoir ne me quitte pas. Voilà tout le sens de ma lettre. Cet homme que vous avez plaint, il y a cinq ans, d’être si réticent à l’égard de son pays, c’est le même qui veut vous dire aujourd’hui, à vous et à tous ceux de notre âge en Europe et dans le monde : « J’appartiens à une nation admirable et persévérante qui, par-dessus son lot d’erreurs et de faiblesses, n’a pas laissé perdre l’idée qui fait toute sa grandeur et que son peuple toujours, ses élites quelquefois, cherchent sans cesse à formuler de mieux en mieux. J’appartiens à une nation qui depuis quatre ans a recommencé le parcours de toute son histoire et qui, dans les décombres, se prépare tranquillement, sûrement, à en refaire une autre et à courir sa chance dans un jeu où elle part sans atouts. Ce pays vaut que je l’aime du difficile et exigeant amour qui est le mien. Et je crois qu’il vaut bien maintenant qu’on lutte pour lui puisqu’il est digne d’un amour supérieur. Et je dis qu’au contraire votre nation n’a eu de ses fils que l’amour qu’elle méritait, et qui était aveugle. On n’est pas justifié par n’importe quel amour. C’est cela qui vous perd. Et vous qui étiez déjà vaincus dans vos plus grandes victoires, que sera-ce dans la défaite qui s’avance? »

Juillet 1943

This is what I wanted to tell you, not above the fray, but in the midst of it. This is what I wanted to reply to your remark, “You don’t love your country”, which still haunts me. But I want to be clear with you. I believe that France has lost her power and her sway for a long time to come and that for a long time she will need a desperate patience, a vigilant revolt to recover the element of prestige necessary for any culture. But I believe she has lost all of that for reasons that are pure. And this is why I have not lost hope. This is the whole meaning of my letter. The man whom you pitied five years ago for being so reticent about his country is the same man who wants to say to you today, and to all those of our age in Europe and throughout the world: “I belong to an admirable and persevering nation which, admitting her errors and weaknesses, has not lost hold of the idea that constitutes all of her greatness and whose people always, whose leaders sometimes, search continuously to express that idea even more clearly. I belong to a nation that for the past four years has restarted the course of her entire history and which, out of the ruins, is calmly and surely preparing to make another history and to take her chance in a game where she holds no trump cards. This country is worthy of the difficult and demanding love that is mine. And I believe now that it’s well worth fighting for since it is deserving of a higher love. And I say that your nation, on the other hand, has received from its sons only the love it deserved, which was blind. A nation is not justified by any old kind of love. That will be your undoing. And you who were already conquered in your greatest of victories, what will you be in the approaching defeat?”

July 1943

A Sober Yet Hopeful Missive

One of the things I find striking about Camus’ letter is that he wrote it long before the end of the war. Allied forces would not land in France for another 13 months and it would take 9 more months before Germany surrendered. I find it heartening that in the midst of all the suffering, Camus was able to write with such confidence about Germany’s inevitable defeat. In recent times, lies have proven to be so maddeningly productive. Is the effectiveness of violence and falsehood ultimately doomed to failure? I’d like to think it is and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower
Hitler and his entourage in front of the Eiffel Tower, June 1940

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About Carol A. Seidl

Serial software entrepreneur, writer, French to English translator, mother, and lover of: books, travel, history, cultures, art, cooking, fitness, nature.

16 Comments

  1. Very wise words. The stance attributed to the German in the first paragraph is not love, it is worship — a very different, degrading, and frankly sub-human stance of blind obedience and self-abnegation. It is not love to want your country to pursue brute power at the cost of destroying everything good about itself, as the crude and ignorant Nazis would have done to Germany’s magnificent culture, if their rule had lasted. Perhaps that’s what Camus meant in saying that the Germans “were already conquered in your greatest of victories”. Those victories were won at the price of the German nation becoming a dead husk, a kind of zombie.

    I want America to be respected, not just feared (the Trumpanzees do not understand the difference). Or as Solzhenitsyn said about the Ukrainian drive for independence from Russian rule, he believed independence would be a mistake, but “if that is what they truly want, then we must let them go — for I would rather that Russia be renowned for the greatness of its deeds than for the greatness of its territory.”

    Is the effectiveness of violence and falsehood ultimately doomed to failure?

    I believe it is, in the long run. But the long run can sometimes be very long indeed. After the Greco-Roman civilization fell in the fifth century, enlightenment eventually won out again in the Middle Eastern revival of the ninth through eleventh centuries; after that civilization was strangled by the triumph of Islamic fundamentalism, there was the European Renaissance hundreds of years later. If the Nazis had won and dragged the entire Western world back into a new Dark Age, I think humane and enlightened civilization would have risen again eventually, but it would likely have taken several centuries before that happened, and no one alive in 1943 would have lived to see it. Petr Beckman said that the thugs always win, but the thinkers always outlast them. Everybody today knows who Galileo was, while the name of the Pope who threatened and silenced him is forgotten except to specialist historians. But Galileo died believing he was defeated.

    Camus obviously understood that reality is hard and complicated and doesn’t give easy answers — that against some opponents, peace and decency can only be protected by using force and even violence. We today, too, need to understand that.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful reply. The idea of a superpower achieving world domination through violence and treachery is daunting to say the least. I agree that it could take centuries to undo such a defeat/victory. Even looking at the longevity of comparatively small fanatical organizations like the Taliban, gives me pause. How long will it take the oppressed people of Afghanistan to overthrow that regime once and for all?

      Camus’ letters were meant, in part, to inspire his compatriots in the Resistance. He talks about France as if it was a unified nation where all citizens shared the same adoration of justice and scientific reasoning. In truth, there were many German collaborators, anti-semites, opportunists, and other bad actors in the French population.

      In his third letter he talks about the way in which Germans view Europe vs. the way in which Europeans see it. Again, he generalizes to make a point, part of the reason why I think he added his clarifying preface after the war. This has made me think about how I view the United States vs. how members of the right view it.

      It’s hard to characterize left or right without making broad generalizations that can then be taken to task. When Camus eventually agreed to publication outside of France, he opened the resulting book with a quote from Pascal.

      “A man does not show his greatness by being at one extremity, but rather by touching both at once.”

      I’m hoping that minimally we can get back to a government where a sizable number of elected officials from all parties can reach across the aisle and articulate something positive about what their opposition holds dear. But, I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Sober, yet hopeful is why I prefer Camus over Sartre. I think that The Myth of Sisyphus explains existentialism in a few pages better than all 800 pages of Being and Nothingness…

  3. I agree. I much prefer Camus as well.

  4. Thank you for this letter by Camus. I actually copied it to read at leisure. It seemed to me some of the things he said could actually apply to current times. He had a vision of France. (Just as de Gaulle had, no not necessarily the same. And we desperately need a vision for France right now…)
    Merci mon amie.

  5. And yes, I too prefer Camus wayyyy over Sartre…

    • Sartre has always struck me as being rather self-absorbed. He may have been a genius but he comes off as a genius who thought quite highly of himself. Camus seems to be more of a true humanitarian. I’ve not read biographies of either man so this is simply based on a feeling. Nothing concrete.

      • Camus understood tyranny. From the right or the left. And he was clearly in favour of freedom. Sartre didn’t care about left-wing tyranny. Many people in France still don’t understand.
        “Toujours la tyrannie a d’heureuses prémices.
        “De Rome pour un temps, Caïus fut les délices.
        “Mais sa feinte bonté se tournant en fureur,
        “Les délices de Rome en devinrent l’horreur.”
        Racine, Brittanicus. Written in the 1600’s, it is one of my favourite quotes. How Tyranny creeps in so easily.
        Bonne journée.

        • Merci pour le vers de Racine! La position de Camus s’exprime dans la citation de Pascal que Camus a employé au début de ces lettres: “On ne montre pas sa grandeur pour être à une extrémité, mais bien en touchant les deux à la fois.”

          • Pas de quoi pour Racine. Il est extraordinaire. I have his complete works. With a mind to read the entire thing soon.
            And as for Camus, I have read his/your letter. My God! Did he write well. Thank you for that.
            “Les deux á la fois”? Oui. He says something in his letter about the sword and the spirit. L’esprit ne peut rien contre l’épée, mais l’esprit et l’épée peuvent tout contre l’épée seule. Something like that. He meant – and did – that sometimes one has to fight for what you believe in. Spirit is just not enough…
            Enfin. Quelle belle discussion…

          • Yes. I appreciated that statement too. I think he also meant to say that fighting solely for the sake of garnering power might win out in the short term but is ultimately doomed to fail against people that have thoroughly weighed the price of war and know what engaging in combat vs. fleeing it will cost them.

            It’s tragic that power-hungry fools too often inflict an immeasurable amount of damage before they are brought under control.

          • Absolutely. And I hear the trumpets of war sounding again… (We shall never learn)
            And yes, it takes the sword (and the spirit) to bring down those fools… (How old are your kids again? I fear for the younguns.)

          • Still in college. They give me hope despite the worries that too often keep me up at night.

          • In College, yes. Now I remember. I think. That is a major experience in their life. A mother never stops worryiing. Amend that. A parent. I still worry about my daughters.
            And yes, they will have to fix the mess we left. (Though I didn’t do it, Officer. Not me!)

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