Help me cite a Camus quote!
January 10, 2008 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a (essay, book) source for the quote, "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend" by Albert Camus.

Every instance I've googled for indicates that it was said by Camus, but never cites an essay or book of his. Any ideas, Mefites?
posted by ethel to Religion & Philosophy (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's a George Sand quote.
posted by bonobo at 1:43 PM on January 10, 2008

Wikiquote doesn't list it on his main page, but does attribute it to him on a page on friendship. It's also attributed as a Ute proverb.

I will be very surprised it turns out Camus actually wrote that. It sure doesn't sound like him.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:44 PM on January 10, 2008

When I was a kid, I sang that at Jewish summer camp, with an additional last line:
Together we will walk in the path of Hashem [God].

It's often sung after a Hebrew text that isn't a translation: Lo yisa goi el goy cherev...

Not that this answers your question, but the context might be interesting.
posted by bassjump at 1:46 PM on January 10, 2008

Hmmm. Searching yields nothing that verifies that George Sand wrote it, either. Sorry, I cannot find any verifiable citation for its origin.
posted by bonobo at 2:01 PM on January 10, 2008

i'm with bassjump -- this quote always struck me as biblical in nature (not in the torah, but talmud, rashi, something-er-other rabbinic).
posted by zpousman at 2:12 PM on January 10, 2008

Every instance I've googled for indicates that it was said by Camus

Really? As ottereroticist rightly points out, it pretty much sounds like the exact opposite of something Camus would write.
posted by dersins at 2:21 PM on January 10, 2008

bassjump: Quaker camp, we sang

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead
Just walk beside me and be my friend
Together we will walk along in harmony.

Again, off topic, but shows how sticky it is. I don't think it's Camus' style either.
posted by Miko at 2:23 PM on January 10, 2008

Even in 1930 people thought it was Camus, but they weren't kind enough to say when he is supposed to have said or written it.
posted by wintersweet at 3:36 PM on January 10, 2008

ethel's right, lots of attributions to Camus, but none cite a particular work or text. Hmmn....
posted by steef at 3:37 PM on January 10, 2008

Even some Camus-literary-society-type sites list it as his, again without a citation. Frustrating. Makes me wonder if it comes from a personal letter or the like.
posted by Miko at 3:40 PM on January 10, 2008

My French is wonky, but if it was Camus I would expect a definitive source from the French. They don't seem to know, either. Merde.
posted by steef at 4:30 PM on January 10, 2008

Response by poster: Well! Thanks to steef's smart French learnin', I found that this site (of unknown reliability) credits his 1938 book of essays, "Noces" (Nuptials). Library here I come!

I'm sort of betting that this is just a plain-old misquote, since I can't find any other citations online relating to "Noces." And everyone who said it doesn't sound like him, I hear you. I was curious if this was a quote taken out of context or somesuch, so thought I'd bring it to AskMe and see if I could get the real scoop..

thanks everyone!
posted by ethel at 5:17 PM on January 10, 2008

Response by poster: wow, I am totally blind. The page I linked to does not cite "Noces" afterall. Bah, humbug.
posted by ethel at 5:21 PM on January 10, 2008

I don't have an answer to your question (although, I do have one particular book of non-essay type writings that I'll flip through to see if I notice the quotation), but I've always had a hard time accepting this as an authentic Camus quotation. If it is, it had to have been taken out of context. This quotation's sentiment is completely incongruous with a Camus favorite I happen to be rereading right now. I would agree with Miko -- If it is authentic, it could be from some sort of personal correspondence.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:32 PM on January 10, 2008

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