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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Outsider by Albert Camus (1942)


“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. 


40 comments:

  1. Es un genial libro te mando un beso

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  2. Looks interesting :-) I only read one book by this author, title it is" A plague".

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    1. A very good read, quite impossible to put down.

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  3. Yes, it's funny how translations don't quite have the same meaning.

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  4. I think this is the only book I have ever read in one sitting. It is easy to read, but so charged in meaning - a great read. Thanks for bringing back the memories here.

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    1. Wonderful!! I'm so glad you enjoyed The Outsider.

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  5. This sounds really good! I enjoyed the plot so have added this one onto my list :D

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    1. I recommend it to everyone. Quite impossible to put down.

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  6. Coucou ma belle ! Te voilà de retour !!
    Comme toi, j'ai bien aimé cette histoire car j'adore Camus. Bravo pour cet avis très complet et extrêmement bien écrit. Gros bisous <333

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    1. Merci beaucoup, Chantal ! Ça me fait plaisir de savoir que tu aies aimé mon avis. Bises.

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  7. Um belo livro dum grande autor eu gostei bastante da "Peste" é um livro fabuloso.
    Um abraço e boa semana.
    Andarilhar || Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa || Livros-Autografados

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    1. Adorei o estilo literário de Camus e quero ler A Peste.

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  8. Uma interessante dica para leitura desse livro!
    Bj

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  9. This is one of my favorite books. There is so much within its seemingly simple prose. The opening lines epitomize that power in simplicity.

    I should give it a reread soon. I will at least read more Camus this year.

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    1. Really?? I also want to read more works of Camus.

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  10. Great review! Well done!!
    I’ve been eyeing this one up for a while, as we know, I love stories that are intentionally both hilarious and sad.

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  11. I know Camus books, but I haven't read that one, looks interesting☺

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  12. This was the first book I read by Camus. It led me to read all his other novels. I think The Plague is the one I like best.

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  13. Hi, RT.
    Parece-me um livro muito interessante, com uma novela bastante densa, misteriosa, daquelas que lemos sem querer largar o livro e, quando nos chamam para algo, saímos chateados. Enfim, entre os livros que valem muito a pena serem lidos. Deixarei marcado em minha agenda. Um abbraccio cara

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    1. Olá Marco Lucca ! É verdade, quando gostamos muito de um livro não queremos ser incomodados na nossa leitura - adorei o estilo literário de Camus e esta história.
      Um abbraccio e bom fim-de-semana.

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  14. I read this novel sometime last year for class. I read the English translation, and I had a french teacher teaching the novel at some points, so it was interesting to see the translation choices and how it slightly changed the hint of meaning. It was a good read overall, and a very thought provoking one.

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    1. Hello Olivia, I am glad to hear that in the Netherlands you read classic French books in class.

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  15. Excellent post (as always)!Thank you very much :) xx

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  16. I always find it fascinating to read about the trouble caused by affairs and the inclusion of mistresses in books, and so for that reason this sounds like an intriguing read. Also, I agree it's funny how some quotations can appear less impressive when translated, right!? haha. Have a wonderful weekend!

    aglassofice.com
    x

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    1. Hello Gaby, I think it's actually incredible how a person's life can change in a split second. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  17. Wow me encanta!!!!
    Have a wonderful weekend!!!!

    Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

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  18. Não conheço a sua obra... apenas algumas citações que tenho encontrado aqui e ali na Net, mas que acho geniais!
    Fica pois aqui, uma óptima sugestão de leitura, que me aguçou a curiosidade, para conhecer melhor este autor...
    Beijinhos
    Ana

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    1. Olá Ana ! Então, eu acho que você vai gostar sinceramente dessa história dramática e divertida. Escrita num estilo literário muito fácil e porém extraordinário. Houve três passagens que me fez rir imenso. Beijinhos e bom fim-de-semana.

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  19. Regaring my little post on murals:
    Go to my blog and type the word murals in the Search Box at the left top.
    The post is called" If walls could speak" (Aug.2010) At that time I wasn't a fan of murals but became one afterwards.

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    1. Thanks Duta, I will take a look at it tomorrow.

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  20. It's been a long while since I read Camus's book, so thanks for refreshing my memory of it. It seems simply written but underlies perhaps more complex ideas. Interesting!

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    1. As for me, it took me so long to take it from my shelf to read it... hahaha...

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