In the Notebooks 1935-34, the first three volumes to be published comprising the notebooks which Camus kept from 1935 until his death, his admirers will naturally hope to find a generous sense of the man and the work which has moved them. I am sorry to have to say, first of all, that the translation by Philip Thody is poor work. It is repeatedly inaccurate, sometimes to the point of seriously miscontinuing Camus’s sense. It is heavy-handed, and quite fails to find the equivalent in English to Camus’s compressed, off-hand, and very eloquent style. The book also has an obtrusive academic apparatus which may not annoy some readers; it did annoy me. (For an idea of how Camus should sound in English, I suggest that curious readers look up the accurate and sensitive translation by Anthony Hartley of sections of the Notebooks which appeared in Encounter two years ago.) It is great pity about the translation. Yet no translation, whether faithful or tone-deaf, can make the Notebooks less interesting than they are, or more interesting either. These are not great literary journals, like those of Kafka and Gide. They do not have the white-hot intellectual brilliance of Kafka’s Diaries . They lack the cultural sophistication, the artistic diligence, the human density of Gide’s Journals . They are comparable, say to the Diaries of Cesare Pavese, except that they lack the element of personal exposure, of psychological intimacy.
The play's action discusses and analyzes conflicts between public and personal morality, and examines the power of self-interest. Although Sir Robert is only honest when it is in his interest, Lady Chiltern, for all her talk of honor and morality, is often hypocritical in her inability to forgive others. The play does not contain a formula for public success, and Wilde maintains a very critical view of society. In the play, Wilde also examines the problematic nature of marriage, and portrays it as corrupt and corrupting. The Chilterns are foolish to try to have an "ideal" marriage based on materialistic values, such as property and high social standing. Wilde suggests a similarity between the absences of morality in their marriage and the lack of morality in the state's political/governing body.
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