The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)

The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay published (as Mythe de Sisyphe) in 1942. In it, Camus explores the absurd, which he identifies as coming about in the confrontation between our desire for clarity and our understanding of the world’s irrationality. The essay contains no metaphysics, since Camus’s goal in The Myth of Sisyphus is to describe, not to explain. He does not hope to persuade us through argument but rather wants us to follow his analysis of the absurd—a state of mind we have all shared at one time or another.

The Plague (1947)

The Plague, published in 1947, is a novel that explores the human condition through the lens of an epidemic. The story is set in the Algerian city of Oran, which is quarantined after an outbreak of bubonic plague. The novel’s protagonist, Dr. Bernard Rieux, works tirelessly to combat the disease and care for the sick, all while grappling with the existential questions that arise in the face of suffering and death. The novel reflects on the complexities of morality, existentialism, and the resilience of the human spirit.