Imprisonment in Camus' "Modern Tragedies": Les Justes, Requiem pour une nonne, Le Malentendu


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

"La tragédie est un monde clos--òu on bute, òu on se heurte. Au théâtre, il faut qu'elle naisse et meure dans l'espace restreint de la scène."1 Camus made this observation in 1939, but the expression "monde clos" appears throughout the Carnets, in Le Mythe de Sisyphe, in the essay on Kafka and in L'Homme Révolté. Furthermore, "monde clos" is only one example of a whole category of images which permeate Camus' work. Abstract metaphors such as "l'univers fermé," "la voie sans issue," and "la prison de l'histoire" play an important part in Le Mythe de Sisyphe and in L'Homme Révolté. The figures which Camus uses in his essays are in a sense complemented by the numerous settings of "closed worlds" in his novels and plays: the prison cells in L'Etranger, Les Justes and Requiem pour une nonne, the inn of Le Malentendu, rooms in "La Femme Adultère," "L'Hôte," and "Jonas," and the cities of Oran and Amsterdam in La Peste and La Chute. "Il y a cent cinquante ans," declares the protagonist of the latter novel, "on s'attendrissait sur les lacs et les forets. Aujourd'hui, nous avons le lyrisme cellulaire."

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.