Books: Strangeness of the Stranger

ALBERT CAMUS by Herbert R. Lottman; Doubleday 753 pages; $16.95

The French have two words for it: homme engagé, a man involved in the ideas and actions of his time. Some definitions are more detailed, but only one is shorter: Camus. The name is enough to evoke the romantic figure of a revolutionary philosopher, fighter in the French underground, disillusioned radical and Nobel laureate, outfitted in trenchcoat, hands cupped around the eternal cigarette: Bogart as existentialist.

Since Albert Camus's death in a 1960 car crash, these images have totally obscured the writer....

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