Saturday, January 9, 2010

On "The Stranger" by Albert Camus *****

I first read Camus' The Stranger on a Sunday evening in one sitting during my second year of collection. It's a short book--and such a thing is thus easily done. But at that time, a single sitting for a whole book struck me as rather incredible. This was likely because it was only a short while before that I had given up television, and always before, reading had had to fit in between television shows, among other things--and thus could only be an hour at most.

I've intended to reread The Stranger for years in the same manner. My computer recently malfunctioned, and sans Internet, I have had time to spare. I sat, as I did that last time, and read Camus.

It's a great reading, at least in Matthew Ward's translation, with a simple prose as dead sounding as the narrator himself. Meursault goes through life sans emotion because he has come to understand that "nothing matters" in the face of the death that we all face, especially if, as he believes, there is no God. A trial for murder, however, slowly brings Meursault back to life and to an understanding of his own recently deceased mother. In the end, The Stranger is a kind of seize-the-day novel for the modern age. Whether I saw that at age twenty, I don't know.

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