The Rebel (book)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Rebel (French title: L'Homme révolté) is a 1951 book-length essay by Albert Camus, which treats both the metaphysical and the historical development of rebellion and revolution in societies, especially Western Europe. Camus relates writers and artists as diverse as Epicurus and Lucretius, the Marquis de Sade, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Andre Breton in an integrated, historical portrait of man in revolt.

Examining both rebellion and revolt, which may be seen as the same phenomenon in personal and social frames, Camus examines several 'countercultural' figures and movements from the history of western thought and art, noting the importance of each in the overall development of revolutionary thought and philosophy.

One of Camus' primary arguments in The Rebel is that the urge for revolt stems from an urge for justice, or, to be more accurate, a rejection of then-accepted norms of justice, as these lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction in an individual subjected to them.

Another theme is the idea that once a revolution is successful, it can become more tyrannical than the original government, as the pursuit of a utopia is a pursuit that often justifies anything, even atrocities, to those who pursue it (e.g. the French Revolution), and that, further, this process is an irresistible one once a rebellion makes the successful transition into a larger-scale (and necessarily better-organized) revolution. Camus also argues that it is the rejection of religion and the idea of divinity that leads to utopian, materialist, political philosophies such as communism, in part as a way to replace traditional divinely-justified moralities with pragmatically-based ones, although he does not present this as a defense of religious sentiment. Faced with a divorce of reality and ideal along secular lines, the rebel attempts to unify the two, often using a variety of Hegel's concept of the utopia at the end of history.

A third is that of crime, as Camus discusses its role in the rebellious nature, as well as defenses of crime that have been presented by such natures through various historical epochs. At the end of this book Camus exposes the superiority of the ethics and political plan of anarchism.

Partial list of persons, ideologies and movements discussed in The Rebel

See also

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