Monday, April 20, 2009


Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 123
Format : Literary Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : Guardian 100 Greatest Books Challenge

Written in French this is the first novel of Albert Camus (L'etranger). It begins with the main character finding out his mother had died and going to her funeral. He is a very reserved man and rarely seems to show any emotion. At the time his lack of emotion at his mother's funeral is not a problem, but it comes back to haunt him later on. He meets a woman (Marie) who falls in love with him and wants to marry. He is not really bothered either way, but agrees to her request. He befriends several people in his building of unsavory character and ends up going away with Raymond (he beat up his girlfriend after he suspected she was cheating on him) and Marie. There there is a confrontation with some men who are following Raymond as one is the brother of the lady he beat up. Afterwards the protagonist ends up going back and killing the brother

The second part of the story is very different. He has been arrested and the prosecuter is trying to make it look like it was a pre-meditated murder. His behaviour at his mother's funeral is taken into account and seen as being unfeeling and inappropriate. He had written a letter for Raymond to his girlfriend essentially inviting her over so Raymond could beat her up. Again this is taken as him instigating violence and he had not called the police when the fight was going on. He seems to antagonise the judge and his lawyer as he won't lie and he again seems to have little or no emotion. Only after he explodes at a priest while waiting for his death (he is sentenced to death by guillotine) does he find peace internally.

A very interesting novel. The translation was very readable and seemed to preserve the original intent of the tale. It's interesting how the evidence mounts up against him and makes him look like the whole thing was planned when in fact it wasn't. The style is supposed to be very American with short sentences and it was a good way to tell the story making it very powerful despite its short length.

2 comments:

Amanda said...

I really liked this book, but Camus is sort of strange in general. I've read a lot about his theories of absurdism and that made the book more understandable (philosophically) and enjoyable.

Kim L said...

Hm... interesting premise. I'm imagining this as a very atmospheric novel. Thanks for recommending :-)