The First Man

The First Man

Cover of the first edition
Author Albert Camus
Original title Le Premier Homme
Translator David Hapgood
Country France
Language French
Publisher Éditions Gallimard
Publication date
Published in English
ISBN 0-679-43937-4
OCLC 31938033
843/.914 20
LC Class PQ2605.A3734 P7413 1995

The First Man (French title: Le Premier homme) is Albert Camus' unfinished final novel.

On January 4, 1960, at the age of forty-six, Camus was killed in a car accident in the Luberon area in southern France. The incomplete manuscript of The First Man, the autobiographical novel Camus was working on at the time of his death, was found in the mud at the accident site. Camus' daughter, Catherine Camus, later transcribed the handwritten manuscript to type press, and published the book in 1994. Camus hoped that it would be his masterpiece and some critics agreed with his view, even in its unfinished state – largely citing the physical intensity and uninhibited psychology of boyhood as removed from the reservedness of Camus' other novels.

Plot summary

The novel takes Jacques Cormery from birth to his years in the lycée, or secondary school, in Algiers. In a departure from the intellectual and philosophical weight of his earlier works, Camus wanted this novel to be "heavy with things and flesh." It is a novel of basic and essential things: childhood, schooldays, the life of the body, the power of the sun and the sea, the painful love of a son for his mother, the search for a lost father. But it is also about the history of a colonial people in a vast and not always hospitable African landscape, about the complex relationship of a "mother" country to its colonists, and about the intimate effects of war and political revolution.


Jacques Cormery – The main protagonist. He is raised in a poor home.

Catherine Cormery – Jacques's mother, who is "illiterate and largely deaf."[1] Jacques loves her and visits her in his adulthood.

Film adaptation

Main article: The First Man (film)

A film adaptation of the novel, directed by Gianni Amelio and starring Jacques Gamblin, was released in 2011.


  1. "The New York Times: Book Review Search Article". Retrieved 2016-05-27.

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