Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Stranger, by Albert Camus

Here is the Symphony No 5 in B flat major, Op 55 by Alexander Glazunov.




My husband sat down next to me and sighed. 

"First books.  Now post cards?"

I have joined an international post card club, called "Post Crossing".  I send post cards to people around the world and receive international and domestic cards in return.  Going overboard as usual, I have bought a lot of post cards to send out.  I enjoy selecting the cards and mailing them more than even receiving them from others.  I try to cram as much about myself on the small space as possible.  I want people to know that in Texas we do more than just chew hay seeds while we sit on a fence and watch horses.  Although, in fact, I do that too.  

Here are a few of the cards I have sent out.  The two landscape photographs are by a Texan photographer:














The StrangerThe Stranger by Albert Camus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Camus writes in a simple, yet mesmerizing style as he gives the first person thoughts of a socio-path. The narrator, a French Algerian, Meursault, tells us in an emotionless voice that his maman has died. He goes to the funeral because he has to. He feels nothing. He smokes and drinks coffee by the coffin.

The next day, he meets up with a girl, Marie and begins an affair with her. A man in his apartment has a dog that he abuses. He observes the man's treatment of the dog but does not care, because he does not think it matters.

Another apartment dweller, Raymond asks him to write a letter to Raymond's girlfriend to entice her back to his apartment so he can abuse her. Meursault does so. Raymond abuses the girl so badly that the police come. Meursault watches all of this without emotion.

The girlfriend's brother and his friends, who are Arabs, begin following Raymond and Meursault as they go to the beach with Marie.

On the beach Raymond and Meursault confront the Arabs. Raymond gives Meursault his gun and, without provocation, Meursault shoots and kills one of the Arabs. He is arrested and goes to jail.

His lawyer tries to get him to show remorse, all Meursault feels is annoyance. All he cares about is his physical needs, hunger, sex, etc..Staying alive is the only thing that has meaning for him. He does not understand why the lawyer is upset because he does not care that his mother died or that he killed a man. He does not know why he killed the man, he just did. That's all there is to it.

Meursault is condemned to die. He refuses to see the Chaplain, but the Chaplain comes anyway and tries to speak to him of God and the afterlife. Meursault is bored.

As his life finally comes to its conclusion (he is sentenced to having his head cut off in a public square), he thinks about small things: the sun setting, the shadows gathering in his room. He simply cannot seem to care about anything that actually matters.

I have not studied any commentaries on this book but it seems that Camus experienced some kind of emotional fatigue or bankruptcy after the World Wars and arrived at the conclusion that nothing matters and life has no meaning.

This book, I think, encapsulates life without God. There is nothing left.



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22 comments:

  1. I can't wait to read this one. I read The Plague a couple of years ago but I think this one is even better. Camus is one author I'd love to explore!

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    1. Hi Cleo. Camus is a really good writer and I did enjoy reading the book, despite the subject matter.

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  2. Hi Sharon. This is indeed a dark and bleak book. This novel is a testament to grimness. Have you ever read the Plague? In it Camus seems to conclude that one can and should find meaning despite all of the grimness. I like that one a lot better.

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    1. Hi Brian. Years ago I read the plague and I don't remember much about it. I had read the Camus changed his views about existentialism before he died.

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  3. i've thought that Camus and Sartre confused existentialism with enlightenment: instead of dealing with the problems presented by life and reality they chose to ignore it all and pretend it didn't exist... i don't have a lot of sympathy with that... if that's what they really thought i would have expected them to shoot themselves instead of someone else... so i guess i think that they were more or less hypocrites...
    great idea, sending postcards... my email address is mudpuddle@hughes.net if you want to exchange some...

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    1. What's really sad is that Camus and Sartre affected the culture of France for the rest of the century. Of course there's always a humorous side. Have you seen the videos of Henry the depressed French existentialist cat? Here's a link:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M7ibPk37_U

      And I'll shoot you an e mail with my address. Just tell me what kind of cards you like. I have a lot of different kinds.

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  4. Sounds horrible, Sharon ☹️ I don’t think I have the objectivity to read something like this & not let it depress me for weeks.

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    1. Hi Carol. I do understand. To me, strangely, it's an exploration as to why murder is wrong and if there is no God, is murder wrong? Or rather, what moral paradigm can we hold on to if there is no God? It reaffirms for me that our moral and social structure only makes sense inside a Biblical framework.

      However, I fully understand why this story would depress people.

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  5. Hmmm. Whether or not people believe in God, right and wrong still exist (hard wired in our DNA). Camus understood that existence has rules even if people do not believe n rules or God. We might not understand all the rules, but they exist. Existence cannot be explained but must be endured — rules and all.

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    1. But the rules come from outside of ourselves. We cannot find ultimate meaning inside our own minds. There are absolutes we all must abide and judging by the selfish nature of man, I know that there must be an exterior paradigm of perfection by which we are able to gauge our actions.

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    2. Maybe that's why with Camus' rules, things ended in the useless death of an unsuspecting life.

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    3. Ruth, I agree. If it's hard wired in our DNA, how is it so many people do what is wrong? Why does anybody do what is wrong?

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  6. I read this, and felt the SAME way you did. There is nothing more to say about Camus and his empty philosophy. Oh, goodness!!! Here is my rant about him and his story: https://greatbookstudy.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Stranger

    Aside from that...I love your obsessions. How fun to have postcard pals! You are enhancing someone else's life, just as much as your own. This is so sweet. You know, your husband absolutely loves this about you, too. : D

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. I am really enjoying this card exchange. Today I received a card from a 17 year old living in Russia.

      I think I read your post on Camus, but I'll visit it again to be sure.

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    2. I believe you did! I could have checked my comments.

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    3. In fact I did not, but I just read it and left a comment. Good review!

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  7. this is mudpuddle; i'm experimenting trying to comment w/o using google

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I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.