Blowing Justice To Pieces

George Scialabba reviews the first English translation of Albert Camus’s Algerian Chronicles, finding the French theorist’s reflections on the conflict proof of his profundity:

At a press conference in Stockholm after the Nobel ceremony, Camus made a statement widely misreported as “I believe in justice, but I will defend my mother before justice.” Goldhammer and Alice Kaplan—in her introduction to this edition—perform a considerable service in pointing out that Camus said nothing so simplistic. What he said was: “People are now planting bombs in the tramways of Algiers. My mother might be on one of those tramways. If that is justice, then I prefer my mother.” He was not sentimentally exalting his mother above justice; he was rejecting the equation of justice with revolutionary terrorism.