While Albert Camus is an internationally acclaimed figure, Jean Sénac has struggled to gain recognition, even in France and Algeria. The correspondence between the Nobel Prize recipient and the young poet, documented in this illuminating collection, is a testimony to a little-known friendship that lasted for over a decade (1947–1958) and coincided with the escalating conflict between France and Algeria. Their letters shed light on a passionate conflict that opposed two men on two sides of the Algerian War. On one side, Camus distanced himself from an Algerian insurrection that was becoming increasingly violent. On the other, Sénac espoused the armed insurrection of the National Liberation Front and Algeria’s right to independence and freedom. The exchange between Sénac and Camus allows for a deeper and more personal understanding of the Algerian conflict, and of the crucial role of writers, poets, and thinkers in the midst of a fratricidal colonial conflict. The letters translated here are also the intimate dialog between two men who had much in common and who shared a deep love for each other and for their homeland.
“This incredibly moving and important book guided by Hamid Nacer-Khodja’s firsthand knowledge and meticulous scholarship, along with Kai Krienke’s sure and nuanced translation and apparatus—helps clear the ground for truly innovative approaches to the history of colonization and the process of decolonization.”
—AMMIEL ALCALAY, author of After Jews and Arabs, Memories of Our Future, and A Little History