A guy who doesn’t care for conforming to societal norms ends up in a terrible situation, but ultimately doesn’t give a shit, because what’s the point, right? I sort of loved The Outsider for it’s weirdness and the protagonists attitude. Honestly, who doesn’t love a book categorised as philosophical fiction?
Meursault is our main character. His mother dies at the beginning of the book and he refuses to show emotions just to satisfy other peoples expectations. Ultimately this is brought back to him as one of the main pieces of evidence against him at his trial. He refuses to pretend and stays true to himself and is baffled as to why this seems to wind people up so much. He is tried for a terrible crime he commits, but also for not conforming.
Camus intended the book to highlight the absurdity of life. It’s also known as The Stranger, as it was was written in French as L’Étranger. Camus wrote, in 1955:
I summarised The Stranger a long time ago, with a remark I admit was highly paradoxical: ‘In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.’ I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game.
I really enjoyed The Outsider. As well as looking at absurdity, it is an existentialist novel. Mersault often ponders death and ultimately decides he doesn’t care if it happens today or in twenty years. It’s going to happen at some point, so who cares when?
Despite being written in 1942, I found Mersualt’s thoughts when his girlfriend stops visiting him strangely reminiscent of my thoughts when that most grim and tedious of modern phenomena happens: ghosting.
For the first time in a very long while, I thought about Marie. She had stopped writing to me a long time ago. That evening, I considered the situation and decided she had perhaps grown tired of being the mistress of a man condemned to death. It also occurred to me that she might be sick or dead.
At times like this I try to remember this very good advice.
Yes, I know. I read one of the most important philosophical books of the twentieth century and I managed to make it all about the emotionally simple men I’ve cavorted with. Help me. Also, pls tattoo that advice on my eyeballs.
Do read The Outsider though. It’s a good, thoughtful read.