From Rhetoric to Reflection: Albert Camus and the «Ancient Quarrel»

  • Grace Whistler University of York


In this paper I argue that Camus’ entire œuvre can be seen as a struggle to reconcile «the quarrel» between philosophy and literature, which originates from Plato’s proscription of poetry from the polis in The Republic. With a view to demonstrating what I believe to be Camus’ own vision of the role of literature in regard to philosophy, I examine Camus’ personal struggles with the written word. I suggest that Camus’ stance in the quarrel is informed by his engagement with different modes of writing, arguing that for Camus, what cannot be effectively communicated via certain linguistic conventions is a comprehension of the subjective experiences of others. I demonstrate his attempt to address this deficit and promote philosophical reflection in the reader, via an examination of the rhetorical devices and techniques he employs in his literary works. I conclude that Camus’ endeavour to provoke philosophical reflection through literary form is in many ways a successful one which should, in terms of «the quarrel», guarantee a place for poetry in the polis.

Author Biography

Grace Whistler, University of York
PhD Candidate in Philosophy


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