Handwritten "Fake Draft" of Albert Camus’ L’Étranger Sold for €500,000


Camus' manuscript

An intriguing handwritten manuscript of bestselling French novel L’Étranger translated as The Outsider/The Stranger by Albert Camus has sold for €500,000 ($544,000) at auction in Paris.

There is strong evidence that Camus in fact faked the 104-page 'draft' sold by French auction house Tajan in 1944, backdating it to April 1940 two years before it was first published.  According to Tajan: "As the war dragged on and he sought a solution to his financial difficulties, Camus took advantage of the intellectual craze for L’Étranger, his first novel published in France, to compose this bibliophilic work - in 1944, according to [his wife] Francine Camus. In these years of struggle, the young author needed money and remained combative: he understood the interest of responding to the admiration of bibliophiles for his work, and perceived the market value of his manuscript. " 

Camus appears to have copied out his own book in black pen using two separate nibs before signing and dating it, adding a range of marginalia including unpublished remarks, erasures, additions, doodles including several suns and guillotines, and a sprinkling of arrows. Tajan suggest that the slight browning on one page is a deliberate cigarette mark, and various other light water stains could well be intentional. It's not known to whom Camus entrusted the work.

It has previously been sold at auction in 1958 and 1991. The identity of the buyer has not been revealed.