Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Stranger by Albert Camus

"And something I'd been told came back; a remark made by the nurse at Mother's funeral. No there was no way out and no one can imagine what the evenings are like in prison."

I've seen the novel's title translated as both The Stranger  and The Outsider.  I think the later is the better translation. A riveting read with a daydream like quality despite violence, sex, prison and potential execution.
In today's society of internet trolling and offence there are some truisms here which retain their relevance.
Spoilers follow...
When Meursault fails to display the perceived socially acceptable way of grieving for the death of his mother he sets in place a chain of coincidences which will work against him. Rather that following the normal social queues he appears detached and flees the situation for coffee, sex and cigarettes.

By assisting a less that salubrious friend with girlfriend troubles, he becomes embroiled in a violent altercation that will see him commit murder and lead to his incarceration. The trial is particularly well crafted, as Mersault enjoys the attention, while failing to comprehend his circumstances until it is too late.  

This is one of those rare books that lives up to the hype. It is definitely worth exploring for yourself. I'd like to re-read it in French, as I feel that would add more nuance to the tale.

 5 out of 5 Mersault's choice of coffee, sex and cigarettes leads to the absence of all of the above.

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