Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book #16 "The Stranger" by Albert Camus

This book was required reading for my modern lit class in college.  I don't think I ever finished it, and the fact that it seemed familiar may have just been from listening to the discussion in class.  Obviously it didn't make much of an impression.  Still, because I really respect the professor of that class, I thought I'd attempt to read it.

***Spoiler alert, but really the plot isn't what's significant in this book.***

It's a weird little book.  The main character is basically a sociopath, but I think the point that Camus is trying to make is that he isn't actually different from us, he's just more honest.  He's motivated by physical needs.  He doesn't seem to have emotions or morals or guilt.  He helps his neighbor trick a woman so that the neighbor can abuse her.  He commits murder because he's too hot.  He's distracted by the heat in the courtroom and seems more bothered by that than by the trial itself.  Honestly, I thought his mother's funeral was the least strange behavior that he exhibited, yet it's brought up repeatedly as proof that he doesn't have a soul.

Then, after the conviction, we see an animal-like (but not inhuman) fear of death.  It's basically the only thing that's really bothered him (apart from the sun) throughout the book.  He ponders his execution, he describes what prison is like, he has a huge fight with a priest who comes to talks to him.

The whole book felt overly controlled and ridiculous.  It was very annoying, yet at the same time was interesting enough for me to keep reading.  It's only about 125 pages, otherwise I wouldn't have finished it.  The main character reminded me of Crime and Punishment, and the whole book was similar in plot but more removed from reality.

Don't read it unless you're working on a literature degree.

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