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Title:The Return of Adam to Paradise Lost: Camus' "Le Premier Homme
Author(s):Lawrence, Christy Renee
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Blake, Nancy
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Abstract:One of the first theses devoted to Camus' autobiographical novel, this dissertation probes the orphan legacy that triggers the 'first man's' search for origins. My first chapter traces themes in his last work through the three 'cycles,' or 'myths,' which organize Camus' oeuvre, from manuscripts of his adolescence to this 'novel of his maturity.' The second chapter discusses the ramifications of Camus' initial visit to his father's tomb in St. Brieuc and the analogous reunion of the novel's protagonist and his father, also killed in the Battle of the Marne. This chapter unveils Camus' philosophical and political notions of time, manifest in the novel's opposition of linear and cyclical temporal designs. The timeline of Le Premier Homme joins a cyclical tradition preferred by Camus, stemming from his love for the presocratic Greek thinkers, such as Heraclitus and Empedocles, and Camus' appreciation for Nietzsche, who envisioned time as an eternal recurrence of the same. In chapter three, I examine the quest for the biological father and his previous textual avatars, along with the ceaseless cycle of parricide and resurrection that alternately animates and exterminates this father figure in the autobiographical novel and most of Camus' repertoire. Unearthing the remains of the 'first man's' lineage, we discover the secret and the inheritance which bind father and son, as personal tale develops into myth. My fourth chapter analyzes the passage of the novel's original 'trinity,' which, like the oedipal triangle, comprises father, mother, and son, to the orphan 'trinity,' in which the father's position is replaced by the literary work. Camus considered Le Premier Homme to be his "War and Peace," the 'epic' novel of French Algeria whose unspoken saga he wished to preserve by providing this narrative patrimony. The unfinished 'Memoirs' of French Algeria struggles with temptations of memory and oubli, or the lack of remembering, characteristic of his countrymen. Le Premier Homme records a search for origins that results in the rejection of the father's heritage, and then the mother's, finally embracing the Orphan legacy of Camus' true mother Algeria, whose sons and daughters live and die without leaving a trace.
Issue Date:2001
Description:181 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3017137
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2001

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