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Caligula and Three Other Plays (1958)

by Albert Camus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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668328,202 (3.74)4
The chapters in this book discuss and summarize the ecological factors affecting and effecting the formation of animal social groups and thereby address one of the central issues confronting researchers and students in sociobiology. The objectives are to review what is known about the impact of ecological factors in the formation and maintenance of social groups. Numerous examples have been drawn from a variety of phyla.… (more)
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In this play, Camus explores once again how an individual may respond to the realization that the world is absurd. Unlike the hero of the Stranger, Caligula, as the Emperor of Rome, has absolute power and can take any action he deems required by the “logic” of the absurd. When Drusilla dies, he realizes the truth that “men die and are not happy.” Because the world does not satisfy man, Caligula is led to the conclusion that he must use his power to seek the impossible, to get beyond the world. He also assumes the pedagogic duty of educating his subjects that the world is absurd. Much of the action of the play involves the things he does to achieve these objectives. While he has some success in his pedagogic goals, he of course fails to achieve the impossible, which is summed up by his oft-stated desire to obtain the moon.

When he is accused of murdering people, he responds that he has started no wars, which would have led to much greater numbers of deaths. Despite his arbitrary actions, he denies that he is a tyrant. He defines a tyrant as a man who sacrifices his people to his ideas or to his ambition. He claims he has no ideas (i.e., political ideals) and has no need for further honors or power.

Camus first began work on this play in 1937 but it was not published until 1945 because he rewrote it several times. In terms of theme, Camus placed it alongside the Stranger and the Myth of Sisyphus despite its later publication date and denied that it was inspired by Sartre’s existentialism, noting that it was originally written before Sartre published his philosophical works.

Much of the play has an almost comic tone because many of Caligula’s actions play on the hypocrisy of the patricians who are his most frequent victims. Other characters (Scipio, Cherea, Caesonia) appear to understand Caligula’s motives and response to the absurd, but reject Caligula’s “logic” in favor of other solutions to the issue of the absurd. The play both succeeds as entertainment and articulates the issues an individual faces after recognizing the absurd. Meursault in The Stranger lived the absurd and when faced with execution began to understand what that meant. Caligula articulates his response to the absurd and enters into dialogue with other characters in justifying his pursuit of its “logic.” The play involves a more intellectual dialogue that goes deeper into the analysis of the absurd than does the Stranger, but it also succeeds as a dramatic work. ( )
  drsabs | Jul 12, 2021 |
Kaligula është një dramë e shkrimtarit francez , Alber Kamy , që është bërë manifest krijues origjinal i letersisë ekzistencialiste franceze e që deri tani në ditët tona vazhdon të shfaqet në skenat e gjithë botës.Sipas fjalëve tv J.P.Sartrit, ajo është një dramë, në të cilën "liria shndërrohet në dhembje , kurse dhembja të cliron".
  BibliotekaFeniks | Nov 24, 2020 |
Interesting slice of early 20th century theatre, most of it concerned with socialist and nihilist themes. The meaninglessness of life is on display as a collection of characters who are hard to like and somewhat hard to sympathize with manage to thoroughly destroy themselves in the name of honor or principle, but for the most part, leaving nothing much changed. The plays are talky and overwrought, rather pedantic, and with far too much exposition and far too little that happens onstage, except perhaps in The State of Siege, where there is actually quite a bit happening. The idea of having the Plague represented on stage as a rather eccentric businessman, with a secretary, no less, is interesting and compelling. I actually think that most of these would stage better than they read, but they would be quite difficult to stage in 21st century theatre, due to large casts and frequent set/costuming changes. Overall, a worthwhile read, but you probably don't want to read it while depressed. It is a bit of a downer, and the depiction of the human condition is more honest that I suspect many would like. ( )
  Devil_llama | Jan 11, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Albert Camusprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gilbert, StuartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giusti, GeorgeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Brien, JustinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This work represents the anthology containing Caligula, The Misunderstanding, The State of Siege, and The Just/The Just Assassins.

It should not be combined with works anthologizing different plays.
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The chapters in this book discuss and summarize the ecological factors affecting and effecting the formation of animal social groups and thereby address one of the central issues confronting researchers and students in sociobiology. The objectives are to review what is known about the impact of ecological factors in the formation and maintenance of social groups. Numerous examples have been drawn from a variety of phyla.

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