On Albert Camus’s Legendary Postwar Speech at Columbia University

Robert Meagher in Literary Hub:

On Thursday evening, March 28, every seat and open space in Columbia University’s McMillin Theater was taken. Those who still stood in line and hoped for entry were out of luck. The scene was without precedent. No lecture delivered in French at Columbia had ever drawn more than two or three hundred listeners, and yet four or five times that many had come to hear Albert Camus read his prepared remarks entitled “La Crise de l’Homme” (“The Human Crisis”). What they heard was not the cultural excursion they had come for. Instead, it was arguably the most prophetic and unsettling speech Camus ever gave.

On that night, in less than thirty minutes, he somehow managed to distill and convey his deepest fears and steepest challenges in words that have lost none of their urgency or relevance in the 75 years since he spoke them. Before we move on to what he had to say that evening, the chosen title of his brief talk calls for careful scrutiny.

More here.