Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Stranger

Today I finished reading one of the most mind blowing books of all time! The Stranger, by Albert Camus. I first read this story in High School, and really liked it at the time, but I thought I should read it again since High School was more than a few years ago.
I will begin by saying that this book is weird, really weird. Despite its weirdness, it is one of the most interesting character studies I have ever read. It describes the thoughts of Monsieur Meursault during several significant events of his life, namely the death of his mother, and his trial for a serious crime.
Meursault's attitude throughout the book is generally apathetic to everyone and everything. It is almost as if he is walking around in a haze of indifference, which I'm sure would really bother many readers.
Initially you sit there and wonder how anyone can think and feel as he does, but after a while, you start to identify with him. I think the reason for this is that, deep down, we all have a shadow of this attitude lurking in the back of our minds.
During his trial, I felt frustrated that he didn't even care enough about his situation to try and save himself; yet at the same time, that little part of me that sympathized, wanted him to be set free.
I don't think I will ruin the end of the story for you, but his reflections on life are very profound, although puzzling at times. The last paragraph just made my head spin. It's a good thing that it is a quick read, because I might just have to read it all over again.
One of the things I liked so much about Meursault was his integrity. That might sound strange considering he is on trial for a crime, but despite his twisted philosophy and warped sense of morals, he was always true to himself. He refused to compromise his beliefs and feelings just because it might make things more convenient for him. You have to respect his resolve, even if you disagree with the prevailing attitude.
At one point in the novel, Meursault is described as a soulless monster, incapable of feeling, but I have a suspicion that this is merely the outward appearance of something else that is the matter. We know a lot more about mental illness now than they did in the 40's, so I wonder if perhaps he is simply suffering from some kind of illness which would be treatable today. Either way, it is an eye opening, and thought provoking novel.
I'm glad I decided to revisit this High School favorite, because I think I liked it even more this time around. I would definitely recommend it, but only if you like weird, twisted, existential stories that make you think and feel things that are totally foreign. In brief, it is incredibly unique, and I really like it.


Emmy said...

Thanks, Robby! I'm going to put this on my reading list! Can't wait to check it out :)

Chess said...

We made a video for The Stranger for AP English. It was awesome. I was the Arab he shoots. :-)

(I'm the one wearing the turban. Hahahah!)