The Outsider by Albert Camus
The Outsider~Albert Camus
I love nothing more than a short, sharp classic that rips my brain open & sends me down a rabbit hole of contemplation & research. Well folks it’s 3am, I finished this at midnight & my mind is racing.
Camus was a Nobel Prize winner for literature who challenged conventional notions of human existence & morality. The Outsider (sometimes translated from the French as The Stranger) is succinct to the point of absurdity for its power, a mere 119 pages of simple & sparse prose, almost childlike.
Meursault is a detached protagonist who loses his mother & continues his life with indifference before committing an irrational murder for which he stands trial. He is matter of fact bordering on dissociative, unable to comprehend societal norms & emotions. This haunting novella was published in 1942, & I can’t help but think about our contemporary understanding of Autism & Asperger’s & how this would impact our response to Meursault if the setting was 80 years later.
Provoking introspection, it delves into the philosophy of existentialism, exploring themes of meaninglessness, absurdity, & the search for personal authenticity. It almost feels like Camus is challenging readers to question the nature & futility of existence & the arbitrary nature of human judgment.
Is his crime more abhorrent because of his lack of remorse? Should he have feigned emotion instead of being truthful? Is he culpable when he can’t conform? What would that trial have looked like today? Is he any less human because he doesn’t meet our expectations of grief or love?
This is still a relevant & fascinating story, a classic that is accessible, disconcerting & profoundly impactful years on. If like me you come across this in a second hand bookshop – buy it. C