Tuesday, 11 June 2013
“Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday. I can’t be sure. The telegram from the Home says: Your mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Deep sympathy. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday”
These are the first three lines of the book! By reading these lines please don’t consider this book as a weird book. The best books are the ones that make the reader to think about the story. The Outsider does that exceptionally well. Narration of the book is extremely fascinating. One of the reasons it’s a phenomenal book is because 100 percent of the time, the reader knows exactly what’s going on; getting lost or side-tracked isn’t a problem. Most books are so filled with excessive details and descriptions that the reader loses interest and keeps it aside. But The Outsider is exception. There are three English translations of The Outsider. The original translation by Stuart Gilbert. In 1982, a new English translation appeared by Joseph Laredo which was titled The Outsider. Then in 1988 a new “American” translation by Matthew Ward was published and it was again titled The Stranger.
Albert Camus (French novelist and playwright (1913-1960)) was an Algerian-born French author, a philosopher, and a journalist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He was a strong supporter of existentialism (Existentialism is a philosophical view that points to free will and personal responsibility.)
The Outsider by Albert Camus is a very short novel but digesting the content will certainly take much longer as this little novel raises serious questions about morality, society, justice, religion, and individuality.
The plot of The Outsider revolves around violence on a beach. Meursault, the protagonist, leads a simple life working as an office clerk in Algiers. He lives as a bachelor. He is so calm and in control throughout with no opinions about anything. He is at the height of indifference. I am not sure if people will care for Meursalt because he is not perfect, dependable, and faultless hero as we are familiar to, but he is unique and honest. He seems cut off from normal feelings, mostly due to his desire to live honestly without any exaggeration. He doesn’t want to display false emotions, just
because they are expected; even though, that’s why it condemns him the most. The rest of the first section of the novel shows as a diary of Meursault’s life until he murders an Arab guy when he is enjoying the vacations with his friends. Part Two deals with the time after Meursault’s arrest for the crime. He faces the legal system for the first time which includes his court case in which he is condemned more for not grieving at his mother’s funeral than the actual crime brought against him.
In the afterword of the book Albert Camus tells the story of a “man who, without any heroic pretensions, agrees to die for the truth. Meursault has an absolute value of honesty in that he simply refuses to lie and ultimately his freedom is taken from him because it is felt that he does not use it in an acceptable fashion and hence he is alienated from the society. That is why the Book name is given as “The Outsider”.
While reading this book one serious question may arise in your mind that does Meursault have any feelings or is he a complete psychopath?
In short moral of the story is to try to be yourself and embrace honesty.
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