"The Rebel" is Camus's attempt to understand the time 'I live in' and a brilliant essay on the nature of human revolt. Published in 1951, it makes a daring critique of communism, how it had gone wrong behind the Iron Curtain, and the resulting totalitarian regimes. It questions two events held sacred by the left wing, the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917 that had resulted, he believed, in terrorism as a political instrument. In this towering intellectual document, Camus argues that hope for the future lies in revolt, which unlike revolution is a spontaneous response to injustice, and a chance to achieve change without giving up collective and intellectual freedom.
Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. His childhood was poor, although not unhappy. He studied philosophy at the University of Algiers, and became a journalist as well as organizing the Theatre de l'equipe, a young avant-garde dramatic group. His early essays were collected in L'Envers et l'endroit (The Wrong Side and the Right Side) and Noces (Nuptials). He went to Paris, where he worked on the newspaper Paris Soir before returning to Algeria. His play, Caligula, appeared in 1939. His first two important books, L'Etranger (The Outsider) and the long essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), were published when he returned to Paris. After the occupation of France by the Germans in 1941, Camus became one of the intellectual leaders of the Resistance movement. He edited and contributed to the underground newspaper Combat, which he had helped to found. After the war he devoted himself to writing and established an international reputation with such books as La Peste, (The Plague; 1947), Les Justes, (The Just; 1949) and La Chute (The Fall; 1956).