n French Studies in Southern Africa - La Figure du Maître d'école dans et d'Albert Camus

Volume 2002, Issue 31
  • ISSN : 0259-0247



This article examines two of Camus' novels in which the figure of the schoolmaster plays an important role, i.e. the fourth section of entitled "L'Hôte" and , the last and unfinished novel by Camus based on his own life as a child and adolescent in his birth country, Algeria, kept unpublished by his family until 1994.

The fictionalised version of the relationship between Camus and his school master features as a main topic in this text, and the schoolmaster is often associated, directly or indirectly, with the missing father who died during W.W.I (this was the case of Camus' own father). In "L'Hôte", published in 1957, the schoolmaster appears in a context quite different from his 'ordinary' function : he has to deal with the relationship between man and authoritarian figures. This does however link with whose hero is desperately looking for father substitutes to compensate for the overwhelmingly feminine presence around him during his childhood. Central to the growth process of the child, Monsieur Bernard and Victor Malan are the providers of a kind of nourishment which goes further than the immediate needs of the pupils.
The paper deals in a comprehensive way with the tools of the schoolmaster, the distinction between the levels of education from primary to secondary schooling and the effect the transition has on the main character. On a larger scale the situation of the child is seen in the context of parental limitations on both sides (absent father, illiterate mother). The article concludes on a daring interpretation of the interconnectedness between the issue of distance from family bondage and the initiation into the process of creative writing to which the young adult has been prepared by his masters.

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