Tuesday, 12 May 2020

The Outsider by Albert Camus


I read this book because I felt the character in my dissertation needed to be well versed in French literature. I know Camus wasn't actually French, but he spent a great deal of his life there and wrote many novels set in the country. However, The Outsider is actually set in the Algiers. 
I had a lot of difficult reading this book, mainly because Meursault, who tells his story in first person, lacked any empathy. While attending his mother's funeral, he showed no emotion and during his trial, there wasn't an ounce of remorse for the crime he had committed. Basically he is a sociopath, but that's quite a hard character to read about when written in first person. His day to day activities read like they have been written by a child, who has yet to learn how to write their thoughts and feelings. 
On returning from his mother's funeral, Meursault carried on with his life as normal, hooking up with Marie and taking her to the pictures literally twenty four hours after the burial. His social interactions with his neighbours came across as almost autistic in nature. He didn't seem to understand human nature. 
During his court case, it was clear that his actions leading to his arrest were not really under scrutiny. His innocence or guilt to the murder was based on how he reacted to his mother's death. 
I can understand why this book is deemed a classic, because of the way it depicts this character lacking any feelings, but unfortunately the narrative voice didn't work for me. I also found the story quite depressing in tone.

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