Friday, March 16, 2007

BOOK: The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Stranger, published in the 1940s, was my entry for the 15 books/15 decades challenge. And it is also a French book for the Reading Across Borders Challenge, as it is translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert. I requested this book from the library since it was in storage. And it was really cool, because it was a really old, hardcover book, with a hint of mustiness odor. And the card in the back was first stamped March 24, 1959, almost exactly 48 years ago.

For the first time, I looked up the Sparks notes as I read a book. I'm glad I did, because the themes that are explored, and the symbolism, were much easier to understand. Camus wrote the book with the "absurdist idea that the universe is indifferent to human affairs and that life lacks rational order and meaning." I found the book enjoyable, reading it along with the analysis, because I usually just enjoy plot and characters, and this book had much more. The absurdist philosophy and the irony of the story were explained in a way I would never see myself.

The story is simple; the narrator, Meursault, has just discovered his mother has died. This sets the premise of his indifference to people, as he barely reacts, and his interactions and lack of feeling with other characters. He continues to live, gets a girlfriend, and yet he has friends, even with his lack of empathy. Eventually, a crisis happens that I don't want to give away and the rest is Meursault's observations of life around him.

I liked the story, and liked reading it, with the analysis. The narrative was very detached, since Meursault didn't make judgments on people or situations, just observations. Classic story, and set in Algiers, a colony of France. Kills two birds (challenges) with one read.

1 comment:

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