Monday, June 8, 2009

The Stranger - Albert Camus

The Stranger is the story of a young man (Meursault) whose mother passes away. Following her funeral, he is on the beach with some friends and is unwittingly drawn into murdering a man. His trial then follows, and the focus of the prosecution is on Meursault's lack of emotion or remorse - both with respect to the murder and his own mother's death. Throughout the book, the man is quite apathetic about everything - he considers marrying a woman he is dating, but is certain he is not in love with. He knows he faces the guillotine, but finds no use for a spiritual advisor. Meursault lives a life that "happens" to him, one that is just a series of events that require no reflection or introspection - except for a recognition of the absurdity of his own condition. Meursault's trial is also an exploration of the randomness of the justice system, and the futility of one's participation in it. I feel like this is the kind of book my English professor could have talked about for days, but ultimately, I just found depressing. Camus is certainly a great writer - and captures Meursault's complexity in a simple straight-forward manner. I'm sure I could learn a great deal more about existentialism and the philosophical inner-workings of Mersault's mind, but in the end, I think I'm just not that deep or that interested.


Marji said...

I second your closing sentence. I read L'Etranger in French, along with other like books -- by Kafka, Sartre, Gide, and others. All in French. I know I translated them into English, but beyond that, I don't think I understood them at all. That's okay. They are not uplifting books, so we can just leave them. In the '60's, Sartre et al were the rage. My roommate had books like "Being and Nothingness". I'd say they are nothingness.

Marji said...

Oh, I just read your blog again. When I say I agree with your last sentence, I am not implying that you are not deep. Not at all! It's just that I agree that some things are not worth being interested in, and in probing deeper. Let the academics write dissertations about them.

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel