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Herbeck examines philosophical tension between the absurd and revolt in article on Camus’ “The Misunderstanding”

The recent issue of La Revue des Lettres Moderne’s (Journal of Modern Literature), devoted to the theme of “Albert Camus au sortir de la guerre 1944-1948 (Albert Camus in the Early Post-War Period: 1944-1948),” published an article by Jason Herbeck, Professor of French and Chair of World Languages, titled, “Le Malentendu et l’Échec de la reconnaissance, ou pourquoi ‘il ne faut jamais jouer’ (The Misunderstanding and the failure of recognition, or why ‘you should never play games’).”

Herbeck proposes to understand the critical failure of Camus’s “The Misunderstanding” by examining the philosophical tension in the play between the absurd and revolt—the first two “cycles” or principles according to which the author conceived his works. Herbeck demonstrates how these super-imposed philosophies serve to link, on a spatio-geographic level, the play’s theatrical setting in Eastern Europe and Camus’s own real-life experiences leading up to and during World War II. In conclusion, Herbeck juxtaposes Camus’s adamant refusal to yield to the expectations of his public at the time with the fatal issue of (non)reconnaissance—(non)recognition—on the part of both the play’s characters and its audiences.

Founded in 1954 by Michel Minard, the La Revue des Lettres Modernes (Journal of Modern Literature) publishes the collection of monographic and thematic series devoted to modern and contemporary writers, as part of the Classiques Garnier publishing house.