A visit to Lourmarin a must for Camus lovers
By Rolf Liffers May 18, 2010, 15:26 GMT
Lourmarin, France - Lourmarin has long been a popular destination for literature lovers but this year the former home of Nobel Prize winning author Albert Camus, situated north of Aix-en-Provence, is even more of a draw as the world marks the 50th anniversary of the Nobel Prize winning writer's death.
Camus, who won literature's greatest prize in 1957, not only lived in Lourmarin but following his death in a car accident in 1960 was also laid to rest in this southern French village.
The author and philosopher's grave is a modest one with the simple inscription 'Albert Camus 1913 1960' and is adorned with fresh flowers and mistletoe left by the many visitors who have come to pay their respects.
An anonymous literary pilgrim has scrawled the comment 'We miss you more than ever' on the simple base on which the gravestone rests.
Camus was unable to enjoy his house, which was paid for with his prize money, for long. The street where it is situated now carries his name and, from the outside, everything is as it was when he resided there.
Steps lead up to the wooden entrance door, which has not been painted for many years while the adjacent window is closed by means of a metal grill.
What is missing is any kind of evidence to show that the house was once home to such a famous person. There is no plaque on the wall as relatives of the famous existentialist don't want the house to become a well-trodden tourist attraction in Lourmarin, which in high season is already crammed with tourists.
Despite the lack of a plaque, locals are more than happy to point out the location of the house while the Lourmarin town council has named streets, buildings and squares after their most famous inhabitant.
Naturally, there is also a 'Promenade litteraire,' which allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of Camus while the numerous local bookshops are crammed with the many special editions that have been published to mark the 50th anniversary of the writer's death.
Camus died on January 4, 1960 at the age of 46 after Michel Gallimard, a nephew of Camus' publisher, talked him into travelling to Paris by car rather than by train.
Gallimard's Facel Vega suffered a blow-out to a rear tyre near La Chapelle Champigny and went into a spin before colliding with a tree.
Camus, who was sitting in the passenger seat with his train ticket in his pocket, died instantly while Gallimard passed away shortly afterwards in hospital. The passengers travelling in the back seat survived the crash.
The incomplete manuscript of 'Le premier homme' (The First Man), the autobiographical novel about Camus' childhood and early youth in Algeria, was found at the scene.
Camus contracted tuberculosis after leaving school and, in 1930, had to spend several months in a sanatorium in southern France. He never fully recovered from the illness, which returned in 1949, and this impacted on his writing even when he lived in Lourmarin.
Despite this, the short novel 'La Chute' (The Fall) was published in 1956, followed a year later by 'LeExil et le Royaume' (Exile and the Kingdom), a collection of six short stories.