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Thread: The outsider by Albert Camus

  1. #1

    The outsider by Albert Camus

    I bought this book recently. just wondering if anyone has read this? and what are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    I reviewed the book a while back on LitNet. I said something like,

    Albert Camus, The Stranger


    Whether you agree with Camus' ideas or not, this novel should be read.

    Some novels are read because they're entertaining. They hold our interest with an exciting plot, lovable characters, or a witty narration. I wouldn't put this novel in that class. It's characters are not really likable--they're not really even knowable. The narration is the plain, unadorned prose of the main character himself. But, where this novel lacks excitement, it redeems itself through its extreme significance and relevance to our lives. It approaches a constantly recurring debate, and provides insight into the inscrutable workings of consciousness. Camus may not have been an entertainer, but he had a connection to humanity greater than anyone around him. The Stranger is a hunt for genuine humanity in a society that has given up any claim to life.

    Meursault, a middle-class Algerian, commits a random murder in this novel by Camus. At the trial, Meursault is asked the question that the readers must have on their mind: why did he do it? Meursault blurts out, "it was because of the sun". He believes that random circumstances drew him to the beach with a loaded revolver, and that he chose to commit murder without any other influence but his own will. This response baffles the court, and they throw it out as impossible. The lawyers and the judge try to prove that he committed murder because he was either grief-stricken over his mother's death or an inherently evil person. The court wants to believe that action are prompted by ideas like love, morality, and other-worldly faith. They refuse to accept that Meursault killed the stranger on the beach because he simply made a choice in the circumstances at that time. And, Meursault refuses to believe that the large over-arching ideas that the court holds should affect a person's action. He argues that those around him have given up their lives by believing that their actions are controlled by ideas. This is the basic human conflict that separate the characters in this novel. No matter what you think of Meursault at the end of the novel, I think people should read this novel. They have to take part in this discussion, or a large part of their life will go unnoticed.
    I think I still agree with most of that.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here:
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  3. #3
    What's everyone's thought on the sun?

    Not to big on Symbolism...like a hidden riddle to me and do prefer something deeper than an obscure guessing game...I like to think it's more than symbolism...

    One idea I had was that we relate images/memories with one another mentally. See a full moon with a loved one who later dies, every full moon since can bring back that memory. How the brain works and used a lot in film. What I'm getting at is the Sun, while present throughout the novel has two very huge moments...the funeral precession and the murder.

    The Sun was huge in the funeral precession and since it starts off the novel...a human mind would generally relate Maman's death with the powerful sun.

    One question I'm curious in is do you think Meursault had this compulsion with the sun ALL HIS LIFE/BEFORE his mother's death? We don't know since the novel starts out with the death.

    I'm thinking instead of symbolism, maybe Camus was going for a memory / brain network.

    Maman's death lingered over him, despite no emotion...it was in conjunction with an overpowering sun. The next time we see an overpowering sun is the murder.

    Anychance is Camus relating the two events...is Mearsault's murder the reaction to his mother's death, instead of crying. Why? Just curious, I could be thinking too much into this though. To me this makes much more sense than the Sun representing something - Mearsault, while under the Sun for his funeral precession was pretty much his same old boring self, so it had little impression on him so why the influence seeing the Arab but none for Maman's death? I'm thinking ever since the funeral, Mearsault, while having little emotion, linked the sun to his mother's death, so the Sun's appearance after that is a reminder that she's gone and he has yet to react.

    Just a thought I had, maybe nothing. But I'll retread and think it over...

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    The lawyers and the judge try to prove that he committed murder because he was either grief-stricken over his mother's death or an inherently evil person. The court wants to believe that action are prompted by ideas like love, morality, and other-worldly faith. They refuse to accept that Meursault killed the stranger on the beach because he simply made a choice in the circumstances at that time. And, Meursault refuses to believe that the large over-arching ideas that the court holds should affect a person's action. He argues that those around him have given up their lives by believing that their actions are controlled by ideas. This is the basic human conflict that separate the characters in this novel. No matter what you think of Meursault at the end of the novel, I think people should read this novel. They have to take part in this discussion, or a large part of their life will go unnoticed.
    Your point about the lawyer trying to establish a motive: surely the most significant aspect of this section is the total lack of emotion from Meursault? Therein, the reader should be provoked into thinking: do we only feel certain emotions because society deems we shoudl feel thus because of thus?

    Brings to mind the last few lines of the book, where he talks about the benign universe, a beautiful anbd terse summation.

  5. #5
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    I read the book and I thought it is definitely a worthy read. Vero provocative, I highly recomend it. I think it is a magnificent book

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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