21 May 2010

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Thoughts and Reflections:
I was put on to Albert Camus from my internship supervisor this past term. He is a French Canadian and, in my mind, every so much more in touch with French culture than I am. As it happens, 2010 is the 50th aniversary of his death and France has taken strides to remember the author, his works, and his role in French culture. My first impression of this novel was that it was simplistic, but the reputation of the author and my internship supervisor caused me to continue reading. I was not disappointed. The writing style was in perfect alignment with the protagonist, an emotionlly-simplistic individual who commits a murder.

Albert Camus was born in 1913 in Algeria. He led a multi-faceted life. His adult journey began at the University of Algiers. Following university, he turned to journalism. From 1935-1938 he ranthe Theatre de l'Equipe. During WWII, he was one of the leading writer of the French Resistand and editor of the underground newspaper Combat. He then founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement. In 1957 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and continued to play an active and important role in literature and philosophy until his death in 1960. The Stranger is considered one of his most famous works.

This is the story of a nameless protagonist as he proceeds without emotion (with the exception of the occasional sense of annoyance) through his mothers funeral, receives a promotion, commences an affair with a charming young woman, and committs and is tried for a murder. He only begins to express emotion when he receives the death sentence for his crime. Finally, as a priest tries to convert him to Christianity the eve of his death, the protagonist reveals and expressed real emotion regarding his life, love, and crime.

I found the protagonist rather endearing. At times, his lack of emotion and his straight-forward way of viewing the world around him was frustrating. As he was tried, I repeatedly felt, along with the protagonist, that he was seriously being misunderstood.

A repeated theme in the writings of Camus is the nature of modern man and his undoing. I would claim that, in this novel, the protagonist is only able to find freedom (of expression or otherwise) through his condemnation to death.

Things I Loved About This Novel:
1) The perfect compliment between protagonist and writing style. I felt the style contributed to my understanding of the main character.

2) The absurdism, this consistnet theme in the writings of Camus was excellently expressed in this particular work.

3) The final emotional explosion of the protagonist.

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