Initially he doesn’t even have light enough to paint, but it almost doesn’t matter.“What are you doing up there”, someone would ask, “I’m working” Jonas replied. ” The narrator tells us “he was not painting, but he was meditating.
They had gone forever, because she was buying her freedom from them,” as Susan moves towards gassing herself.“She was slipping already into the dark fructifying dream that seemed to caress her inwardly, like the movement of her blood”.Both Lessing and Camus, if in quite different ways, are interested in the question of the self versus the social, but also in a broader question, one that incorporates the presence of Africa and other’exotic’ locations in their work, and the notion of listening to one’s heart in all its manifestations.This question isn’t always one of inner integrity, in the usual sense of being true to oneself: often the truth barely concerns the self at all.The question in Camus’s work (as it often happens to be in Lessing novels like books also) is frequently one of not listening to oneself, but to the wind, the sun, the sea, the elemental.
Up in the attic Jonas says “Shine, shine…don’t deprive me of your light.” In such a moment he resembles Janine in ‘The Adulterous Woman’ and D’Arrast in ‘The Growing Stone’, other stories in the collection.
One surrenders not to the social that shrinks the self evident in aspects of the ‘Artist at Work’ as Jonas is surrounded by the social .
In ‘The Adulterous Woman’, Janine goes out into the cold North African night and allows herself to be ravished by the desert’s mysteries.
where he talks of Jean Paul Sartre and others’ dismissal of Camus, a dismissal Kundera credits chiefly to snobbery.
In an essay from the mid—sixties, ‘He was my Teacher’, Gilles Deleuze disdainfully regards Camus as a minor figure and Sartre of far greater significance.
Was Deleuze merely echoing the low opinion of Camus that many in France had been offering for a number of years, long before Camus’ early death in 1960?