“When the bell rang again and the door of the box opened, it was the silence of the room that rose towards me, the silence, and this singular sensation that I had when I noticed that the young journalist had averted his eyes. I did not look towards Mary. I did not have the time because the president told me in a bizarre way that I would have my head cut off in a public place in the name of the French people...”
Author: Albert Camus was a French writer and philosopher born on November 7, 1913 in Mondovi in Algeria. The second child of a modest family, he never knew his father, who died during the First World War. His mother, of Spanish origin, was half deaf and almost illiterate. Camus was marked by the disadvantaged environment in which he lived with his mother and brother. He discovered a passion for writing which helped him to fill the emptiness in his life. The Outsider was Albert Camus’s first novel. Camus enjoyed great success as a writer and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957. In January 1960, at the age of 46, he was killed in a car accident in the company of his editor friend Michel Gallimard.
My thoughts: Anyone who has read this book will remember the famous opening lines of Camus’s novel. They set the tone for what will follow:
“Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.”
Strangely this sentence does not sound extraordinary in English
“My mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.”
This is the first book that I read this year, in January. I loved each of its 183 pages. I found it easy to read and very entertaining and I highly recommend it to you. The main character, “l'Etranger”, alias Meursault, is a young man who lives in insensitivity and indifference. He is not very talkative and mixes little with society, so he is “foreign” to the world which surrounds him.
Meursault (the narrator) receives a telegram announcing the death of his mother. He immediately takes two days leave and leaves Algiers in the direction of Marengo (80km away) to attend his mother’s funeral. She lived in one of the old peoples’ homes in that town. Back in Algiers, he meets Marie Cardona, a former work colleague, who will become his mistress. Meursault strikes up a friendship with his next-door neighbour, Raymond. The latter had been in a fight with the brother of his mistress because he suspects her of cheating on him. He therefore asks Meursault to help him to write a letter to avenge himself.
Invited by Raymond to spend a Sunday in his seaside hut, Meursault goes there with Marie. Two Arabs, one of whom is the brother of Raymond’s mistress, are looking for a fight on the beach, but nothing occurs. A little later Meursault sees the Arabs again and he kills one (by accident) with Raymond’s pistol. He is arrested, tried, and condemned to death.
The novel is structured in two parts. The first traces the daily life of Meursault after he learns of the death of his mother until the he commits the murder on the beach. The second part describes his life in prison and the phases of his trial until his death sentence.
In this story we meet funny, strange and endearing characters. Marie Cardona who is the mistress of Meursault. Raymond Sintès who is the best friend of Meursault and also his next door neighbour. The elderly Salamano the second neighbour on Meursault’s landing, who has lived with his dog for eight years. Céleste who is the owner of the restaurant where Meursault eats. Emmanuel who is the colleague with whom Meursault often eats. Perez who is the only man who cried upon the death of Meursault’s mother and who becomes a witness at the trial of the man who had not mourned the death of his own mother.