The Camp of the Saints is a controversial novel written by French author Jean Raspail. Published in 1973, the book explores themes of immigration, nationalism, and the clash of civilizations.
Obviously these themes are at the forefront of political debate in many countries, and today the imagery of the novel is becoming a familiar sight. Jean Raspail wrote "The Camp of the Saints" in the late 1960s and early 1970s, another time marked by social and political upheaval in Europe. The novel was influenced by Raspail's concerns about immigration and the perceived threat to Western civilization. It draws on fears of cultural displacement and the erosion of traditional values. It is not a stretch to say that these fears are not only present currently, but argued about openly.
"Camp of the Saints" was published in 1973 in France. The book received mixed reviews upon its release, with some praising its literary qualities and others criticizing its controversial themes. The novel sparked controversy for its portrayal of immigration and its racially charged narrative. Critics accused Raspail of promoting xenophobia and racism.
The English translation of "The Camp of the Saints" was published in 1975. The translation by Norman Shapiro made the controversial narrative accessible to a wider audience. The book soon gained notoriety in English-speaking countries, particularly in the United States, where it became a touchstone for debates on immigration policy.
Given the enduring controversial nature of the novel, it is likely that discussions surrounding its themes, such as immigration and nationalism, continue to be relevant in contemporary debates. Societal attitudes toward immigration and the portrayal of such themes in literature may evolve over time. The novel's impact and reception might vary across different cultural and political contexts.
In conclusion, the events surrounding the writing, publication, and translation of "The Camp of the Saints" reflect the contentious nature of its themes. Its reception has been marked by both acclaim and criticism. The consistency of its relevance in 2023 would depend on ongoing societal debates and shifts in perspectives on immigration and related issues.
Perhaps solely due the enduring controversy surrounding the book, it is extremely scarce and expensive. At the time of this writing, at the end of 2023, copies are between $200 and $2000, with very few exceptions slipping through the cracks. So how can you find your copy to read? Or a mispriced copy to keep or sell?
If you do not already have a copy with which to push down prices, you still have a few options. You can check it out at a library and see if you really need to own it. You can also read it immediately, or even listen to it, for free on the Internet Archive.
If you have to have your own copy, we have listed the known English language editions below, as the prices vary and fluctuate depending on formats and availability. They do not often drop below $200 but if you are diligent and keep checking, you will find a deal eventually. If you need a copy immediately, be sure to check all of the editions before buying. You can easily save $100 by looking around on any given day.
English editions of "Camp of the Saints"
- 1987 from Social Contract Press
- 1975 Charles Scribner (Reprinted in 1982 by Institute for Western Values)
- 2018 Social Contract Press
- 1977 Sphere
- 1986 Noontide Press
- 2017 Createspace Independent Publishing
- 1977 Ace Books
From the Liner Notes
Already a sensation in Europe, this brilliant, controversial novel is about the "haves" and the "have-nots" of the world -- the mighty white nations confronted by the legions of impoverished, starving, black and yellow people known as the Third World.
The time is the near future. In New York City, racial violence has become a way of life and barricades have been erected around the black ghettoes. In London, 800,000 Commonwealth nationals are demanding their full human rights. In Manila, a French cruise ship has been invaded and seized. Millions of Chinese are massed along the Russian border. And across she world, refugee fleets are forming.
The attention of the Western World is focused on India, where a million men, women and children have boarded one hundred dilapidated ships. It is the Last Chance Armada, a pathetic convoy bound for paradise, a nonviolent crowd of survivors coming in the flesh to knock, at long last, at the gates of abundance.
As news bulletins flash around the world, everything seems to indicate that the final destination will be France. What will be done? What are these people -- pitiful refugees or a pitiless enemy, saintlike sufferers, or an invading army?
Awesome in its dramatic descriptions written with passion and an ironic eloquence, this compelling novel will infuriate some readers; yet no one will forget it or remain unaffected by the questions it raises about the future of the world.
About the Cover Photo
Jean Raspail's novel portrays a flotilla of natives from the Indian subcontinent washing ashore. Some years ago an event which provoked images of his story took place in real life.
On Sunday. June 6.1993 at 2 a.m. the freighter Golden Venture ran aground off Rockaway peninsula beach in New York City.
The ship held a cargo of over 300 illegal aliens from the Chinese province of Fiujian. Most were young men: about 20 were women. The ship had been at sea for three months, sailing by way of the Cape of Good Hope, when it finally hit a sandbar some 200 yards off the seaside park.
At the time of the incident, the Golden Venture was the ship carrying Chinese illegals known to have reached the United States over a two year period. Federal authorities admitted that they may intercept only five percent of the Chinese illegals smuggled into the United States by ship every year.
The passengers mortgage their futures by promising to pay $20,000 to $35,000 apiece to the professional smugglers employed by Asian organized crime syndicates. based in Hong Kong and Taiwan. w Ito were in charge of the expedition. They work off their debts with years of indentured smitude. The average wage for unskilled labor in New York City's Chinatown is substantially lower than in other parts of the city.
Chinese television viewers are bombarded With imaees of affluent Americans living in luxury. The apprehended aliens said they came seeking work. Instead of being deported, most immediately requested political asylum. None have been sent home.
It is noteworthy that critics who called for stiffer enforcement of U.S. immigration law were accused of displaying a "Camp ofthe Saints mentality."
A Note from the Publisher
We have been honored to bring back into print Jean Raspail's The Camp of the Saints and to do so just as the immigration policy debate has risen to new heights in the United States—indeed across the world. We began negotiating for the rights to publish this edition long before two seminal events helped focus attention on the wider issues involved.
The first was the passage in California of Proposition 187, a citizen's initiative calling for an end to most social services and welfare benefits, including schooling, for illegal aliens. Fought out in the context of a California gubernatorial race, this was the first time in recent decades that immigration policy played a role in actually electing or defeating candidates for public office.
Then there was remarkable use of The Camp of the Saints in the cover article of the December 1994 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, "Must It Be the Rest Against the West?" by Matthew Connelly and Paul Kennedy. The Atlantic Monthly has the record of the longest continuous publication of any magazine in the United States and is arguably one of the most prestigious. Their article did much to renew interest in Raspail's book and legitimize re-consideration of its thesis.
The Camp of the Saints has been a controversial book in the United States since its first release in 1975 by the respected publishing house of Charles Scribner's Sons as translated from the French by Norman Shapiro. The novel alternately has been praised as a clear minded view of the future or, contrarily, vilified as "racist." Individuals have been attacked for merely being familiar with it.
International acclaim for The Camp of the Saints, a haunting and prophetic vision of Western Civilisation overrun by burgeoning Third World population
"Its scale is apocalyptic and its implications awesome ... a global Golgotha ... This is a story to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest, especially by those under 40."
John Barkham Reviews
"It Is possible that the new, sensational novel The Camp of the Saints projects the most savage view of the human race since the 4th voyage of Lemuel Gulliver.... M. Respell's satire is harsh... He views everyone through a fisheye lens, scathing all classes and a variety of cant... has moments of appalling power and occasionally a temble beauty... It confronts the white West with dreads from its deep unconscious. It leaves a reader to ponder a haunting, 'What if?' "
Edmund Fuller, Wall Street Journal
"Shocking and controversial... A macabre thriller... no reader will remain unaffected by the questions it raises about the future of the world."
Linell Smith, Baltimore Sun
"Audacious and imaginative fiction... it suggests, if comparisons are made, Camus' The Plague."
William Hogan, San Francisco Chronicle
"Reading it is a memorable experience... Respell's macrabre vision of the world 20 years away is not science fiction. His society is the end product of current conflicts carried to their extremes."
Carol J. Feisenthal, Chicago Sun-Times Showcase
"[The novel] shrewdly exploits a dilemma that the world may well face the moment when the burgeoning Third World rises from misery and forces the West to share more of its resources."
"A haunting book of irresistible force and calm logic... The suspense is total... A thriller to make Hollywood pale by comparison."
"The Camp of the Saints is the Brave New World of the 70s, the work of a writer whom power is unquestionable. It will attract thoughtful readers.... I am still haunted by the drama and suspense and horror of that armada," Germaine Bree
"One of the very few recent novels from France which steadily holds the reader's interest It creates suspense effortlessly. It offers an apocalyptic and haunting vision which might become the nightmarish reality of tomorrow."
"A brilliant landscape of apocalypse. without doubt the strongest book of the season"
"A macabre and gripping tale"
"A stream of violent controversy will swirl around this book, since it takes an a whole cluster of polemical issues—over-population. race, the Third World. and the character of liberal thought and sentiment. Jean Raspail does it, moreover, with . irresistible pace of skill and narrative. He doesn't speak for me, especially since I don't share his views on race and don't believe the Apocalypse is here. But I am glad he has grappled with the issues and given me several nights of absorbed reading."
"We could search together for a new style of life which would make possible the subsistence of the eight thousand million human beings that are estimated to people the planet by the year 2000. Otherwise no quantity of atomic bombs could stem the tide of billions of human beings who someday will leave the poor southern part of the world to erupt into the relatively accessible spaces of the rich northern hemi-sphere looking for survival."
President Boumedienne of Algeria
From an interview given in 1974, two years after Jean Raspail wrote The Camp of the Saints
"This is an apocalyptic novel, a philosophical dissection of the erosion of Western civilization....Rich and varied (and often discomforting) imagery, symbolism, and points of view amplify the theme, relating it to such 'lessons of the past' as the Book of Revelation, Paradise Lost, and the fall of the Byzantine Empire. This book will succeed in shocking and challenging the complacent, contemporary mind."
Virginia M. Marr, Library Journal
"In freer and more intelligent circles in Europe...the book is a sensation and Raspail a prize-winner. Raspail is a tremendous rhetorician, his disdain boiling from the page in a torrent reminiscent of Celine."
Jeffrey Hart, National Review