Sunday, 13 February 2011

L’Étranger - Albert Camus

I don't understand the cover. Looks like a psychopathetic killer. Makes no sense.

This is my first novel, or novella by Camus, and it won't be my last. Published in 1942, this is his most popular work. I've read and have seen L’Étranger cited as an existentialist novel, as well as an important piece of modern French literature.That's not why I've read it though. I've had trouble with existentialist novels before.

It's completely absurd. I'm unsure whether multiple reads would even qualify for an explanation (I know this post won't even do it justice). It's about a guy that's emotionless: no remorse, no empathy, no regrets. He won't pretend, and he won't lie.

Should tautology be avoided in writing? I think if it's coming from a philosophical nature, that is such a great route to take, because it's hard enough to absorb the power behind something so profound as this as it is, without language being a barrier. Structuring sentences elegantly with a precise amount of words is going to hit you so hard, especially with the closing scenes in this. At the end, you'll realise how dense and rich the content you've consumed has been, despite the character being so soulless. You'll have to sit around, write a blog post, phone up friends that don't exist, and contemplate life and the human condition. There are such undiscovered depths in this, that I'll never find in just the glance I've had of Camus. It takes someone like Ishiguro a whole full-sized novel to stand up to this book.

I'm glad I haven't hit middle age yet. This is and is probably going to remain one of the life-changing pieces of philosophical literature (or works in general) I'll ever read, and I'm glad I've read it now. Enjoy this snippet.

"As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the benign indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate."


Maxine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maxine said...

Camus has three novels on the 1001 List that I am following, the others being The Rebel and The Plague. The Plague is on my list for this year. I'm looking forward to reading him.

Jake said...

I think The Plague will be my next. Hope Camus has the same impact on you as he has me

Anonymous said...

The Rebel is not a novel, it's an essay.
I recommend The Fall, lesser known but as amazing as The Stranger.

Maxine said...

That's so annoying - the 1001 list is like my 'bible' and a few of the titles on it have only been short stories - it does say BOOKS YOU MUST READ....grrrrr. Oh well, thanks for the heads up and I will definitely add The Fall to my list :)

Jake said...

Can I also mentioned the band, The Fall, who are also brilliant, and take their name from the book? :-)

Maxine said...

I've started Plague, will be interested on your thoughts. I was dreaming about rats last night, so I think it's had an impact on me already :)