'Saints without God'

Camus's poetics of secular faith

  • Grace Whistler University of York
Keywords: Camus; Transcendence; Suffering; Poetics; Religious Imagery


This article addresses Camus’s response to Christianity and the problem of suffering in the context of the early twentieth century. Owing to his association with the existentialist movement, it is often assumed that Camus, like many other French intellectuals of the period, rejected Christianity altogether. For this reason, his sympathy with Christian thought is overlooked, and it seems altogether bizarre that some theologians even claimed Camus to be a convert. Among these wildly conflicting claims, Camus’s philosophical response to Christianity has become somewhat muddied; in this article I attempt to rectify this. I argue that Camus’s entire philosophy is underpinned by his response to Christianity, and that he wanted to re-establish the position of morality in the face of the problem of suffering. I thus demonstrate how his writings manifest this struggle to achieve this goal, in what I refer to as Camus’s ‘poetics of secular faith’. Camus once claimed, ‘I do not believe in God and I am not an atheist’. This article aims to elucidate just what is meant by a statement like this, as well as to catalogue and analyse Camus’s innovative attempts at reconciling spirituality and suffering through philosophical literature.

May 29, 2018
How to Cite
Whistler, G. (2018). ’Saints without God’: Camus’s poetics of secular faith. Nordisk Judaistik/Scandinavian Jewish Studies, 29(1), 49–61. https://doi.org/10.30752/nj.68791