Camus on vanity and the joy of living alone

On a number of occasions, I’ve talked about using this blog as a vehicle for other people’s writing. And there is a great deal of thoughtful, challenging material out there. It feels like a useful idea, even if my audience is sparse. Inevitably, given my disposition, most will be political in intent. However, for starters, here’s a beautiful, unsettling and contradictory quote from the enigmatic Albert Camus.

In the meantime, I’ve set off writing up my notes from the talk on Authoritarianism. It’s become clear that the notes constitute only a beginning. Even as I scribble more questions and even answers come to light. These need to be scrutinised and incorporated. Who knows when and where it will end?

Camus with Maria Casares, the famous French actress

Every time a man (or I myself) gives way to vanity, every time he thinks and lives in order to show off, this is a betrayal. Every time, it has always been the great misfortune of wanting to show off which has lessened me in the presence of truth. We do not need to reveal ourselves to others, but only to those we love, for then we are no longer revealing ourselves in order to seem but in order to give. There is much more strength in a man who reveals himself only when it is necessary. I have suffered from being alone, but because I have been able to keep my secret I have overcome the suffering of loneliness. To go right to the end implies knowing how to keep one’s secret. And, today, there is no greater joy than to live alone and unknown. My deepest joy is to write. To accept the world and to accept pleasure—but only when I am stripped bare of everything. I should not be worthy to love the bare and empty beaches if I could not remain naked in the presence of myself…” ~Albert Camus (Book: Notebooks 1935-1942)

Thanks to Philo Thoughts at

There’s a host of information and a fascinating biography on the Albert Camus Society website

2 thoughts on “Camus on vanity and the joy of living alone

  1. Tony Taylor

    Linda – I was utterly ignorant but now realise what a remarkable person she was.

    When Camus was killed in a car crash in January 1960, two days before the couple were due to meet for the first time in months, Casares was devastated.

    “For me, he represented man in every sense, in his vitality, passion, imagination and commitment to individual thought and speech,” she said later. “When he was killed, I felt the loss like an unendurable absence, a painful absence that made an adult of me.”


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