The unfinished manuscript of The First Man was discovered in the wreckage of car accident in which Camus died in 1960. Although it was not published for over thirty years, it was an instant bestseller when it finally appeared in 1994. The 'first man' is Jacques Cormery, whose poverty-stricken childhood in Algiers is made bearable by his love for his silent and illiterate mother, and by the teacher who transforms his view of the world. The most autobiographical of Camus's novels, it gives profound insights into his life and the powerful themes underlying his work.
Told as a novel, this is a moving account of the author's poverty-stricken childhood in Algeria, the love of his mother and the old schoolteacher who saved him from ignorance. The book acts as a novel on Algeria, on the relationship between man and the land, and between French and Arabs.