Existential Literature: Camus’ The Outsider (or Stranger)
For those of you who are not familiar with Camus, L’Etranger or “The Outsider” is an incredible story- unfortunately, I have never read it in English until now, and much of it’s luminescence is lost in the translation. While English is my first language, it’s a bit dry and lackluster. Reading this novel in French practically gave me a blinding headache with his descriptions of the glaring sun hitting the sand. Camus draws our attention to the way society treats and judges a person who is honest: Mersault is a man who is indifferent to many of the trappings of life. One job is as good as another and he is content to life his life without much gut wrenching analysis. In the end, his failure to overtly grieve his mother’s death or obsequiously acquiese to others’ demands that he recapitulate his tale and convert to Christianity cost him his life. It’s a must read.
The title itself is fascinating- Stranger has connotations of one who is odd, but the word outsider suggests that he is a social misfit.