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The outsider(L’Étranger)

Posted by Janus on July 29, 2006

Albert Camus

Meursault leads an apparently unremarkable bachelor life in Algiers until he commits an act of violence. His response to the incident challenges the fundamental values of society, a set of rules so binding that any person breaking them is condemned as an alien, an outsider…

Albert Camus brings to life a character who embodies the madness and absurdity of the world in which we inhabit, a character who’s lost in the rules and regulations of society. Meursault is a man who feels nothing but indifference for the world around him, who even feels nothing of his mothers death. Camus himself summed up the outsider in one sentence, “In our society any man who doesn’t cry at his mothers funeral is liable to be condemned to death”.

This is without doubt one of the best pieces of literature that I’ve ever read, well written and well thought out it amazed me that a book of only a hundred and twenty pages could be so powerful. Meursault’s reactions to his mothers death, Marie’s love, the Arabs attack and the contempt shown by those in the court are a clear reminder of the differences between the individual and the collective.

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