The novel was published in 1942 and it was Camus’ first novel. It won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957.
The setting of the novel is in French Algeria. Camus begins the story with Meursault, the narrator, stating: “Mother died today.” It is a terrific opening line; a great line to get the reader’s attention.
The plot is simple. Meursault, the main character who is also the narrator, is a Frenchman living in French Algiers. He attends his mother’s funeral but he does not exhibit grief over the death of his mother. His actions and behavior show that he seemed unaffected by his mother’s death, which of course was very disturbing to me as the reader. He carries on with his life as though nothing had happened. He narrates the uninteresting events in his daily life culminating in his senseless murder of an Arab man. The book is divided into Part One (before the murder) and Part Two (after the murder). Part One ends with a description of the murder, which to me, was the climax of the story. Part two deals with the trial. He is condemned to die by guillotine.
After reading the novel, the interest, at least for me, is not so much the details of the plot but the personality of Meursault, the literary devices used by Camus to dramatize highpoints or turning points in the story, and of course Camus’ philosophy that the world and society are essentially absurd and indifferent; life is meaningless; the randomness of violence and death. We are like ships tossed about in a stormy sea. Society does not care about you as a person and therefore, it is up to you as an individual to find meaning in life. But in the end what is the use? Does it really matter? Thinkers and philosophers refer to this way of thinking as existentialism. The novel is perceived a classic example of existentialism. Camus used the thoughts and the personality of the main character, Meursault, to illustrate and underline his existentialist philosophy.
Meursault is emotionally impoverished; he has no passion in life. He is dispassionate and detached. He works as a clerk or secretary and the characteristic attribute of his life is dullness: sleeping, going to work. He exhibits neither excitement nor enthusiasm for living. One day is pretty much like another day.
Meursault attributes his killing of the Arab man as “chance.” Meursault expresses neither guilt nor regret. It was just chance and the heat of the day; as if he was not at all responsible for the crime. The incident occurs on a beach in Algiers, when Meursault, his girlfriend Marie, and his friend Raymond spend a weekend at the beach. There was no motive to the killing. It was a reflex reaction to a self-perceived threat. What he felt, what his emotions were during that crucial and fatal encounter, Meursault does not tell us. During that fatal moment, Meursault focused more on describing the heat at the beach where the murder occurred and how the heat affected his senses. It would seem as though the extreme heat and glare of the sun caused him to kill the Arab. The best passage in the book occurs in this section, the conclusion of Part One. In this passage, we can appreciate Camus’ brilliance as a writer by his use of word imagery to move the story. I consider the passage one of the finest examples of descriptive writing.
The book is a great read but I did not like the personality of the main character and I do not agree with the author's philosophy that the world and society are indeifferent, that life is meaningless. We give meaning and direction to our life. The world is what we make it. The book raises timeless questions about ethics, the meaning and direction of life and social justice. (less)
This book is not literary. It's like Ted Turner is talking to you across the dinner table and narrating his business dealings. Not much introspection;...moreThis book is not literary. It's like Ted Turner is talking to you across the dinner table and narrating his business dealings. Not much introspection; not much on his private life either. Two things are certain: Ted Turner is a man who likes to have "fun" and likes to "keep moving." One thing stands out though: he is very creative and innovative in his business dealings and one has to admire his problem solving skills. Overall, even though his homelife was "chaotic" (his description) he comes across as a good person in the book. He is a hardworking guy. He has two passions in life: business and sailing. I would not recommend this book to the general reader but those with an interest in business may find his style and approach "enlightening" and may learn a thing or two. (less)
An excellent anthology for physicians. It is a collection of experiences and encounters of doctors with individual patients. Doctors will recognize th...moreAn excellent anthology for physicians. It is a collection of experiences and encounters of doctors with individual patients. Doctors will recognize that they have been similar situations but each patient is unique and it is the uniqueness of the patient as an individual that makes the stories in the anthology fascinating.