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Moody Camus in Rio

Published Jan 03, 2023
Updated Jan 03, 2023

📍 🇧🇷 Moody Camus in Rio

After a two-week sea crossing, French novelist Albert Camus (1913-1960) finally arrived in a July-wintry Rio de Janeiro. First impressions for him: a never-ending bay, the Sugar Loaf and "an immense and regrettable luminous Christ" (Corcovado) once the fog had dispersed.

During this journey, Camus was often depressed, ill, hard-working. He was already famous back in 1949 - "The Stranger" got published in 1942, "The Plague" in 1947. Embassies and local elites received him and celebrated him everywhere. But his mood changed little despite the sumptuousness of the colours and the intensity of perfumes: "I am asked to uncross my arms on dance floors, so I remain with my arms hanging down...", he wrote in his diary, often shocked by the gap between luxury and poverty behind the glitter.

Leaving the capital to recharge his batteries in (Western) Madureira, or in Teresopolis (in the north), he always returned to Rio with a certain melancholy: "this Rio Bay is too spectacular for my taste”, The harmonious baroque is the only thing to see in this country and it shows quickly. What remains is real life. But in this disproportionate land, which has the sadness of wide-open spaces, life is very close to the ground and it would take years to integrate it. Do I want to spend years in Brazil? No."

Destination Sao Paulo in early August to discover new sights, before stops in Uruguay and in Chile. Rio made little sense to an intellectual obsessed with what this whole human adventure may mean.


Albert Camus, “Carnets”, juillet 1949


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