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Sarkozy wants Camus in Pantheon

Sarkozy wants Camus in Pantheon
French President Nicolas Sarkozy adjusts his tie as he waits for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to arrive at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, November 13, 2008. The visiting leader said that US President Barack Obama should come up with a firm plan of action to renew peace talks between Syria and Israel. UPI/Eco Clement | License Photo

PARIS, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy is pressing to re-inter the remains of Albert Camus, one of France's greatest 20th-century writers, in the Pantheon in Paris.

The proposal is a controversial one, Time magazine reports. Critics accuse the conservative Sarkozy of trying to hijack a French leftist.

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Camus, who died at the age of 46 in a 1960 car crash, is best known for his novel "The Stranger." His body now lies in a cemetery in the Vaucluse in the south of France.

"I don't think Albert Camus has any need of Sarkozy, I think Sarkozy has greater need of some intellectual sparkle," Olivier Todd, author of a biography of Camus, told France Inter radio. "This is a gimmick -- it's part of his technique of hijacking the intellectual milieu. It flies absolutely in the face of everything that Camus stood for."

The Pantheon, built in the 18th century as a church, houses the bodies of many of the great of France, including writers like Emile Zola and Voltaire, scientists like Louis Pasteur and Pierre and Marie Curie and politicians like the Socialist leader Jean Jaures. Most of the recent arrivals were transferred from elsewhere.

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