That silence is not always of the same quality, depending on whether it springs from the shade or the sunlight. There is the silence of noon on the Place du Gouvernement. In the shade of the trees surrounding it Arabs sell for five sous glasses of iced lemonade flavoured with orangeflowers. Their cry 'Cool, cool', can be heard across the empty square. After their cry silence again falls under the burning sun: in the vendor's jug the ice moves and I can hear its tinkle. There in the silence of the siesta. In the streets of the Marine, in front of the dirty barber shops it can be measured in the melodious buzzing of flies behind the hollow reed curtains. Elsewhere, in the Moorish cafes of the Kasbah the body is silent, unable to tear itself away, to leave the glass of tea and rediscover time with the pulsing of its own blood. But, above all, there in the silence of summer evenings.

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, trans. by Justin O'Brien, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1955, p. 116.

PLACE: Algiers

TIME: 1930s

CIRCUMSTANCE: A hot summer day in Algiers.



And awake now, I recognized one by one the imperceptible sounds of which the silence was made up: the figured bass of the birds, the sea's faint, brief sighs at the foot of the rocks, the vibration of the trees, the blind singing of the columns, the rustling of the wormwood plants, the furtive lizards. I heard that; I also listened to the happy torrents rising within me. It seemed to me that I had at last come to harbour, for a moment at least, and that henceforth that moment would be endless. But soon after the sun rose visibly a degree in the sky. A magpie preluded briefly and at once, from all directions, birds' songs burst out with energy, jubilation, joyful discordance, and infinite rapture. The day started up again.

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, trans. by Justin O'Brien, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1955, p. 159.

PLACE: outside of Algiers in the country.

TIME: 1930s

CIRCUMSTANCE: Early morning in December.