s.penkevich's Reviews > The Stranger

The Stranger by Albert Camus
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
6431467
's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: death, murder, morality, trials, nobel-prize-winners

It was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.

Even if we exist in a world devoid of meaning, why is it that our actions still bear so much weight? The crime and punishment of Nobel Prize winning author Albert Camus’ academically canonized The Stranger depicts the ironies of enforcing meaning in a void and the absurdities that surround us as humans walking towards the same cold, lifeless fate. ‘Since we're all going to die,’ writes narrator Meursault, ‘it's obvious that when and how don't matter.’ Yet, when and how define a life, especially when the the why is a direct consequence of a life lived, though do our lives truly matter at all? These questions rattle across the pages of this fantastic character study revolving around a courtroom character judgement of the narrator, a courtroom of suits flanking a judge that might as well be angels flanking the pearly gates of Christian lore. The Stranger is a lesson in absurdity and investigative analysis of a life faced with the ‘benign indifference of the world’.

There is not love of life without despair about life.

Meursault is a man of few words or convictions beyond those that choices rarely make much difference in the grand scheme of the world. Yet it is his choices that damn him in this world, especially by those who believe that his actions damn him in a next world that probably doesn’t even exist according to our narrator. While most decisions really don’t amount to much of a difference, there are still those which inevitably set life in different directions, such as to pull the trigger or not to pull the trigger, ‘To stay or to go, it amounted to the same thing’. This is a man not unsatisfied with life but feeling on the outside of it, moving through the world as he sees fit, and being denied life by men with a God-like arrogance for believing their word and opinions are firm law when really they are as meaningless and insignificant as any other creature. However, this is not a story of the condemners, but of the condemned. It is important to note that Meursault is, for all intents and purposes, an ‘everyman’, one that exists in all of us even if we surpress or deny it. ‘I felt the urge to reassure him that I was like everybody else, just like everybody else,’ and it isn’t Meursault on trial, but all of us. It is the collective human soul with all our errors, intentional or not, on trial for existing in a world that probably doesn’t matter or care.

Maman died today,’¹ begins The Stranger’, an event setting everything into motion. Part One of the novel focuses on the funeral, and more importantly its aftermath. As we watch Meursault awkwardly press through a funeral he feels detached from, more inclined to discuss how the weather and present company ill-effect him than the loss of a mother.
It occurred to me anyway that one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed.
Following the funeral The Stranger chronicles Meursault’s relations with the living and the natural world, most critically concerning his courtship of Marie. Marie, it would seem, figures as an Oedipal substitute for his Maman². Whereas the relationship with Maman is cold and detached, the two of them separating much out of boredom with one another, his relationship with Marie is full of excitement and hot-blooded sexual flair, yet the text is full of imagery nudging towards Oedipal impulses. There is a fixation with her breasts, which are frequently mentioned and sought after by the motherless Meursault, or the tender moment when he seeks out Marie’s scent on the pillow and falls asleep in the warm embrace of bed and scent, a fairly childlike and soul-bearing act.

Meursault’s relationships lead him down a path that ends with senseless murder (as senseless as everything else may be a question worth considering), and while we put a moral weight on the difference between intentionally pulling the trigger or the trigger going off from being overcome by the sun and heat, is there truly any difference at all since both lead to a body bleeding out on the beach? This murder, and the absolutely brilliant final line of ‘knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness’—one of my favorites in all of literature—propels the reader into Part Two. Here we have find Meursault denied the sunsoaked scenes of nature and friendship of the outside world, and the sexuality so rampant in part one as he finds himself now beset by the cold indifferent stone walls of prison. The world of part one only whispers through the bars. There is still the overwhelming warmth, but this is more akin to hellfire in a judgement scene where mortal flesh takes on the role of an Almighty judge in an investigation of Meursault’s character. Meursault describes the utter absurdity of being the true focus of the trial, but being forced to sit silent as others do all the deciding and discussing as if he didn’t matter one bit. It also seems strange that the murder is not the primary discussion, but the actions of relations leading up to it. Did Meursault love his mother, was he in the circle of criminals, and other moral characteristics of the man seem to be the deciding factor of his fate, a trial that reads like a Holy decision into either Heaven or Hell while actually being a decision that would remove him from this worldly courtroom to the immortal courtroom, if that is to be believed (certainly by the lawyers but denied by Meursault).
I realized then that a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison. He would have enough memories to keep him from being bored.
Being left with only having your past life, full of its joys and transgressions, to either comfort or haunt you for what feels like eternity reads much like an expression of an afterlife. If there is one, then life has meaning, but what if there isn’t one and we don’t have to atone for our actions?

It is better to burn than to disappear.

The Stranger is a probing look into the folds of existence, and one that forces you to consider your own life and it’s place under all those indifferent stars. The writing is crisp and immediate, and the effect is nearly overwhelming and all-encompassing in its beauty and insight. I read this in high school and have now re-read it in preparation for The Meursault Investigation. I found it to be much more meaningful to me as an adult as I found it then, though I enjoyed it equally both times. When a reader is young, the ideas seem engaging and attractive, but more like a hat one can put on and remove when they are done and move on. As an adult, having been through much more and having experienced bleak moments and bottom-of-the-well nights where life truly felt absurd and devoid of meaning or warmth, Meursault didn’t seem so distant or theoretical but like a life we’ve all lived and tried to forget. The Stranger has earned it’s place in the literary canon as well as deep within my heart.

4.5/5

I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.

¹ There is a fascinating article from the New Yorker discussing the various translations of the opening line. I tend to prefer their own version, which has never been put into the novel that it should read ‘Today, Maman died’ as Meursault exists in the here and now, and that the death of his mother is an interruption of his ‘today’, which should be first and foremost as in the original French ‘Aujourd’hui, maman est morte’, especially since placing Maman first assumes a closeness to her that doesn’t present itself through the rest of the novel. Note as well the quote above where Sunday passing is placed before mention of burying his mother.

² Is it possible, too, that the absence of Maman reflects the absence of God?

How could I neglect to mention the song Killing an Arab by the Cure, inspired by this novel.
178 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Stranger.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 24, 2011 – Shelved
July 14, 2015 – Shelved as: death
July 14, 2015 – Shelved as: murder
July 14, 2015 – Shelved as: morality
July 14, 2015 – Shelved as: trials
July 14, 2015 – Shelved as: nobel-prize-winners

Comments Showing 1-50 of 57 (57 new)


Gautam great review :) you articulated your interpretations really well . And im glad both of us reviewed it almost the same time (i reviewed it yesterday) :) happy reading steve :)


message 2: by Pramod (new)

Pramod Nair :-) Wonderful dissection as usual my friend... Enjoyed your review a lot. And that link to New Yorker was an added bonus. Thank you.


Seemita 'It is important to note that Meursault is, for all intensive purposes, an ‘everyman’, one that exists in all of us even if we surpress or deny it.'

Bang on! I arrived pretty much at the same conclusion in my second reading! Your thorough, compendious review took me on a delightfully abstract trail with Meursault once again, Steve! Thanks a bunch; your review redeems our hero :)

P.S. Thanks for that blazing article!


Angus A lot has been said about the opening sentence, but it never fails to fascinate readers who care about first lines. Had Maman died yesterday...


message 5: by Dolors (last edited Jul 15, 2015 12:31AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dolors You present the ongoing paradoxes of this opaque character with dexterity and great insight, spenks. Loved the excerpts you quoted and your "probing" pondering. I would add the passage where Meursault peers through the diminute window in jail and yearns for the blue sky and white clouds, to me, the scene where he appears to be more "humane". Super review, I will wait for your intake on The Meursault Investigation with bated breath!


Vipassana Such a great review! You've outdone yourself with this one. Your comments on Meursault's relationship with Marie is especially intriguing, while it did not strike me as I read the book, I can see how perfectly it fits in hind sight.

I read two different translations of this, Stuart Gilbert and Matthew Ward, and I completely agree with your conclusion that "Today, Maman died" seems apt. It makes some much sense given that the paragraph goes on to speak about how it might have been yesterday and the telegram, etc. I often think, that with the right translation, The Stranger might become a five star for me (Maybe I should just learn French).


Rakhi Dalal The Stranger is a probing look into the folds of existence, and one that forces you to consider your own life and it’s place under all those indifferent stars.

Thanks for this great review,Sven! You have very clearly, with a sharp insight, explained what this work is about.The line above sum up what The Stranger means to me and more or less, what the collective work of Camus brings out for me. Thanks,again :)


Cristina No words, I've no words. An astonishing analysis. "However, this is not a story of the condemners, but of the condemned. It is important to note that Meursault is, for all intensive purposes, an ‘everyman’, one that exists in all of us even if we surpress or deny it. ‘I felt the urge to reassure him that I was like everybody else, just like everybody else,’ and it isn’t Meursault on trial, but all of us. It is the collective human soul with all our errors, intentional or not, on trial for existing in a world that probably doesn’t matter or care." (...) "As an adult, having been through much more and having experienced bleak moments and bottom-of-the-well nights where life truly felt absurd and devoid of meaning or warmth, Meursault didn’t seem so distant or theoretical but like a life we’ve all lived and tried to forget. The Stranger has earned it’s place in the literary canon as well as deep within my heart." I'll check the article you have mentioned, about the sentence "Maman died today" (or the french version). Congratulations!


Luís C. A great masterpiece is what i defined this book..


Corin Mersault's character thoroughly disturbed me. I personally felt he was some sort of sociopath. Indeed, a very thought-provoking and poignant story. I asked and felt so many things during the course of reading this. Thank you for such an eloquent review.


message 11: by Cheryl (last edited Jul 15, 2015 08:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cheryl Marvelous s.penk! I hope you are diving straight into The Meursault Investigation now. There are so many lines and brief scenes in Meursault that, unless you had just read The Stranger, wouldn't seem particularly significant, but when the first book is fresh, they leap out at you. I am so looking forward to reading your thoughts on that, and how it interfaces with this one. :)


message 12: by Deepthi (last edited Jul 15, 2015 09:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Deepthi This review contains some excellent and impactful quotes which would haunt the reader for days, just like the book for which this review was written does. I have always savored and loved your insightful and analytical reviews, Sven, and this one is no different. :)


Stephen P Steve, you deconstruct the work with precision but rather the cold voice of analysis you perform a further feat by your voice bathed in passion and warmth. It's a unique talent and what makes your reviews successful as shown in this one.

This book hung in the dark corners of my shelves as, A Book I Read A Long Time Ago, mainly because it was A Book I Read A Long Time Ago. Already catalogued and locked away in a vault. Poor Camus. But your review revived this book with its vivid imagery and insights into the battle for meaning in life which may have none. Or it may. I'm writing this review so I must think it does!


s.penkevich Thanks everyone!
Gautam: Thank you! Your review was quite excellent as well, glad we both read it at the same time. Pretty cool to know that somewhere in the world someone is reading the same book as you and loving it.

Pramod: Thank you so much. Yeah, that article is really interesting. Translation fascinates me, so much can be made of such a small change of words. It reminds me of Notes of the Underground, how each translator opens with a variation on the first line, though only one of them really sticks with me.

Emir: ha thanks! I'm enjoying the Investigation quite a lot, was glad to have this fresh in my mind.

Seemita: Thank you, you are too kind. Yea, I think that was the intention, that Meursault is sort of all of us faced with absurdity. This book really connected with me on my reread, glad you love it too!

Angus: So true. This and Notes from the Underground seem to have so many variations. First lines are key!

Dolors: that is a great part, I should find that and add it. THe sky is really key in this book, and I think is somehow a god metaphor (in Meursault Investigation he says when the sky is black it is God's back. The pairing of the two books has been a really rewarding and awesome experience, I recommend it). Thank you so much as well!

Vipassana: Funny how translation works that way. It's a shame that a lot of great books only have one translation. I'd love to read a different translation of, say, Savage Detectives and see how that goes. I'm looking forward to revistiting favorites of mine, like Hamsun's Hunger, in various translations. Thank you so much! I had a class once where we spend several weeks looking into Oedipal Complexes in great works, so it's always fun when I can spot one and talk about it ha (actually, a lot of the way I write is thanks to that professor, Dr. Lucy. It's why I always include a thesis statement haha).

Rakhi: I'm so glad you had a similar impression! I was worried a lot of people would disagree with him being an 'everyman' but I gathered that it was at least Camus' intention. I sort of really like Meursault as a character, much how I love Dostoevsky's Underground Man or Hamsun's narrators best. The 'wholly good' ones are boring ha, I like characters that might be insufferable to know in real life but are a joy to read on the page. And thank you!

Kaplan: Merci beaucoup! Je suis heureux que vous avez apprécié ..

Cristina: Thank you so much! You are too kind :)

Luis: it is indeed!

Corin: I can definitely see that impression of him. I think Camus meant him to be a dark side within us all, and he is just more open to voice it, or show it by not voicing it. Though I think he may also be meant as more a stand-in for ideas than a flesh and blood character, despite working well as the latter. Who knows ha. Thank you very much, so glad you enjoyed!

Cheryl: I'm loving it! I agree, there are so many parallels that I would have missed if The Stranger wasn't fresh in my mind. Lots of little juxtapositions that are really cool. I'm eager to fully read your review of it when I finish, but seeing your 5 stars was a big part of why I took the jump and bought it! And thank you!

Deepthi: Thank you so much! I had fun writing it, this book really got me.

Stephen: Thank you so very much, I am unworthy of such wonderful praise! Yeah, i probably wouldn't have reread it if it wasn't for The Meursault Investigation, I very very rarely reread anything. But I'm glad I did, it meant a lot more to me now. Thanks again!


Himanshu This is one of the books which I lucidly remember and I consider impossible to forget. Yet, your review and such brilliant insights not only made me revisit but also sit back and ponder. That second paragraph is just brilliant, Steve. Amazingly done!


Glenn Russell Fine review, S.

Is it possible, too, that the absence of Maman reflects the absence of God? ----- Perhaps. My sense is, if anything, the absence of God could reflect the absence of the Father. To my recollection, the narrator's father is not mentioned once in the entire novel.


Gaurav Very interesting review S. Penkevich!!

The Stranger is one of my favourite books- one which I enjoyed most of all Camus's books- and a profound work in Absurdism.


message 18: by Margaret (last edited Jul 16, 2015 07:43PM) (new)

Margaret I still remember being a brand new seventh-grader sitting in the junior high school cafeteria surrounded by hundreds of noisy middle-schoolers, mostly strangers to me, and thinking, "In a hundred years, we'll all be dead." That idea both shocked and comforted me. We are all so new, yet we all will die. Nothing can stop that, hence the shock. What mistakes we might make along the way will be small change, will not count for much, hence some comfort. Meursault sometimes seems like he's still a bit stuck in the shock (and comfort) of that tween/outsider mindset.

Your review, on the other hand, deals in a very nuanced and understanding way with Meursault's journey. He may not see how or why the way one lives a so-called meaningless life matters, but he is surrounded by humans living within a (human-made) cultural context that applies meaning. And they and their views do make considerable changes to how Meursault lives. Religion, law, society, government, family, community--all of those have their say. It may not matter at all that it doesn't matter. Your review shows how even from Meursault's viewpoint as stranger that all that does matter. You are persuasive in arguing that Marie serves to mother Meursault as motherless child; without self knowledge, Meursault needs that mothering. You further conclude that an adult reader's experience of moments lived meaninglessly enable all of us to see ourselves as Meursault, at least at times. But because we read Meursault and analyze him (and analyze him well in your case), we are both Meursault and beyond Meursault. We learn that even if from an outsider view all our lives may be meaningless, we nonetheless make meaning. We punish those who fail to agree with our ideas of significance: Meursault must be punished because he is a man who does not act as if he cares that his mother has died. That is felt to be true even though it may seem that killing someone is a worse crime. And so it goes (to quote someone else whose earliest novels I first read in high school).

Once again, thanks for an insightful and interesting review.


message 19: by Mike (new)

Mike Puma Very nice, spenx. The Mersault Investigation looks pretty good as well. Anxious to see what you do with it.


s.penkevich Himanshu: Thank you so much! Yea, this one definitely sticks with you. I always thought back on it, but I feel I will do so even more so now. I realized a lot more about this book on the reread and am a bit obsessed with it at the moment ha.

Glenn: A-ha! That is a great point about the father, never even noticed that. Thank you! Now I have to think about that for a bit ha.

Gaurav: Thank you very much! Yea, this is a real gem. The Plague by Camus is another great one. I used to prefer that, but after rereading this one I might side with this.

Margaret: And so it goes - nice! (Slaughter House Five right? Or was that Cats Cradle?) Wow, what an amazing comment, thank you a thousand times over. I really like your point of both being and going beyond Meursault by analyzing him. To be a stranger even to yourself in order to look at yourself from the outside. And I love your first paragraph, to realize mortality and the absurdity of it all at such a young age. I wonder how old I was when that all first sunk in, though perhaps I haven't even quite let it all sink in truly. It's like watching old movies and realizing 'everyone on screen is dead', but then apply that to any recent release how it will be viewed decades down the line. Great points, and thank you again.

Mike: It is pretty awesome, I think you might enjoy it as well. Read a big chunk of it on my lunch break while sitting on a beach, which seems both fitting and twisted ha. And thank you!


Stephen P Margaret wrote: "I still remember being a brand new seventh-grader sitting in the junior high school cafeteria surrounded by hundreds of noisy middle-schoolers, mostly strangers to me, and thinking, "In a hundred ..."

Great comment Margaret!


Jibran ...it isn’t Meursault on trial, but all of us. It is the collective human soul with all our errors, intentional or not, on trial for existing in a world that probably doesn’t matter or care.
You have nailed it. The protagonist is so elusive it's so hard to define and label him an easily understood way. A reviewer must get into verbal gymnastics because Muersault defies easy descriptions but you, sir, have unspooled the ball of his thoughts so deftly that I feel no hesitation in saying that this is simply the best review of the novel I have read!


s.penkevich Jibran wrote: "...it isn’t Meursault on trial, but all of us. It is the collective human soul with all our errors, intentional or not, on trial for existing in a world that probably doesn’t matter or care.
You ha..."


Thank you so much, what high praise! The verbal gymnastics, man that really nails it right. I'm nearly finished with The Meursault Investigation and in it he reuses a lot of lines from this (in the Matthew Ward translation, which this was. When I read it a decade ago it was another guy's), or provides an opposite sentiment, and it has really opened a gate to the inner workings of the language here and what it comes to mean. I'm definitely going to tweak this one when I finish because it made me realize so many more things about The Stranger, discussions that would seem like an aberration from the flow of a discussion on Investigation. I HIGHLY recommend picking it up. It's no masterpiece, but woah is it pretty important.


message 24: by Jaidee (new)

Jaidee Man oh man....this is a glorious review. I have yet to read Camus but I want too so much more now that I have read your review. Thanks so much!!


s.penkevich Jaidee wrote: "Man oh man....this is a glorious review. I have yet to read Camus but I want too so much more now that I have read your review. Thanks so much!!"

Wow, thank you so much. Hope you get a chance to check this book out, it is really something amazing. And it's quite a quick read. I highly recommend The Plauge by Camus as well. Thanks again!


Luís C. A book that I'll never throw away out of my library..


s.penkevich Luís wrote: "A book that I'll never throw away out of my library.."

This one goes on the top shelf of mine


Karen Good review, I also like the book, I just finished it. I was struck also during his trial when Meursault tried to tell the jury that the blinding sun was the reason he killed the Arab, do you remember that? He couldn't quite get the words out, and as he put it the words all ran together. Meursault was so affected by the heat and the sun and noise throughout the book, he reminded me of one who is very sensitive to a lot of stimuli happening at once, yet he was detached from others, almost like a person with aspergers, high functioning autism.


message 29: by s.penkevich (last edited Aug 10, 2015 09:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

s.penkevich Karen wrote: "Good review, I also like the book, I just finished it. I was struck also during his trial when Meursault tried to tell the jury that the blinding sun was the reason he killed the Arab, do you remem..."

Thank you! That's actually a point i've been meaning to discuss somewhere because I've seen several reviews claiming Meursault as autistic. I see the rationalization but also feel it is incongruous with the character since his personality isn't so much character building as a stand-in for philosophy. Meursault is the 'everyman', and I think Camus was pointing out that he wasn't detached from people any more so than the average person, M just happened to cut through the pomp and circumstance of it all because Camus was assessing the idea that if life is meaningless and absurd, and you live by this principal, then what does any relationship actually mean or matter. He may have an aspergers like personality to a modern assessment of character, but that feels overly clinical for something that is a metaphor and also something that wasn't medically attentive at the time (I feel I should say I'm not trying to come across as argumentative, merely trying to talk it out because the thought too had crossed my mind, mostly I want to form a discussion anyone can speak up in because I fully would rather get to the bottom of it than be 'right' or 'wrong'). Granted, Hamsun wrote several characters who are certainly manic-depressive (Growth of the Soil is a perfect example), but they are addressed in outward, obvious ways whereas aspergers (i think) would have been less noticed during Camus' time. He also is quite charming, makes eye contact and easily woos women in a way that shows he has a fluid grasp on social interaction, norms, etc, plus his highly metaphoric prose style (as the novel is assumed to be written by the character) that isn't fitting for a condition where difficulties with abstract language or social cues are typically present (M is VERY good at reading people and their body language, he mostly just doesn't give a damn). The overwhelming sun being the 'cause' of killing the Arab was the overwhelming absurdity of reality, and mostly he didn't see what difference it made for someone to live or die. Not because of a disorder, but more because he 'saw the truth' that nothing matters, nothing has meaning, and everyone that prescribes meaning is lying to themselves.

As to the stimuli, that does make a lot of sense. However, the overwhelming stimuli is a metaphor for society, religion, etc. The sun bearing down on him is the weight of absurdity, the sun often feels like a God metaphor. I see what you are saying, but it feels to me like considering an artist to have colorblindness for painting something an outrageous not-as-it-is-in-reality color instead of assuming it has a purpose to be as such. Had this been a psychological novel it would probably definitely be the intention, but I feel this is more philosophical and in a discussion of the absurd something clinical and logical wouldn't fit. I may be totally wrong, I really want to hear others input on this.


Karen Thanks for your thoughtful answer. I can't help but make a character study, it's just the way I am! I work with aspergers students in a middle school. And you are right to point out the inconsistencies regarding the disorder and Meursault. I am probably having trouble accepting the absurdity as it is.
This novel reminded me somewhat of The Trial, although Meursault was guilty, his trial had nothing much to do with the crime but instead focused on his behavior and reaction toward his mother, and his supposed lack of proper behavior concerning her death. As an athiest myself, I was sympathetic to his plight. So I am wondering if this novel can be both psychological as well as philisophical.


s.penkevich Karen wrote: "Thanks for your thoughtful answer. I can't help but make a character study, it's just the way I am! I work with aspergers students in a middle school. And you are right to point out the inconsisten..."

I think you are quite right to address it as a character analysis though, I mean, that is at the heart of deconstructionism anyways! I was meaning to ask if you did work with aspergers children or in the field of psychology. I had a teaching class once where we worked with autistic students and had to adapt our lesson plan from our earlier Curriculum class to meet their needs. My lesson plan was a poetry course, so I definitely learned a lot about handling metaphors and poetic language through that. It was one of the most rewarding courses I took.

I actually just finished the Trial last week and couldn't help but notice that too! There are many similarities between the two in story, character and theme, but in such unique ways. I might lean towards The Stranger as my preferred novel, but only just.


Karen Metaphors with aspergers students have sometimes been hilarious for me- I really had to learn not to laugh! They are my favorite students- very honest, language is hardest for them so good for you.
I can accept this novel as both psychological and philosophical, but I found the Trial more absurd, almost funny.
I guess as an athiest I am a non-conformist, so I sympathize with Meursault also.


s.penkevich The Trial is hilarious! I feel like people downplay that part and discuss the dark aspects, but really it is a dark comedy. In my review I think i mentioned it being funny like gallows humor, but still laugh out loud. When the lawyer has his client crawling around like a dog, good stuff. Definitely more absurd, almost cartoonish at points but to its credit. Stranger is more blunt and grounded, to its credit as well. I definitely sympathize with Meursault. I think he is in all of us, most just don't like to talk about that part of themselves.


Karen s.penkevich wrote: "The Trial is hilarious! I feel like people downplay that part and discuss the dark aspects, but really it is a dark comedy. In my review I think i mentioned it being funny like gallows humor, but s..."

I loved the way Kafka portrayed the ridiculous beuracracy in The Trial- it is, or should be, familiar to all of us and that is why it's so funny. I'll have to read your review. I have mentioned before to people here while discussing books that the law abiding us, and the people who aren't are not that different. I think we were discussing Lolita. I like reading about truth, there's no escaping it.


Florencia What a gem of a review for such a brilliant book that I could never forget! An exceptional analysis, so beautifully written as well.


s.penkevich Karen wrote: "s.penkevich wrote: "The Trial is hilarious! I feel like people downplay that part and discuss the dark aspects, but really it is a dark comedy. In my review I think i mentioned it being funny like ..."

Ha, funny, because I am not currently reading Lolita. Isn't it wonderful when you pick books seemingly at random that all work to comment upon each other? Lolita seems to have a few nods to the Stranger as well, though that might be from having the Stranger so fresh in my mind. But some of the lines and writing from jail, plus that Nabokov considered his books 'puzzles with eloquent solutions' and incorporates many allusions, who knows?


s.penkevich Florencia wrote: "What a gem of a review for such a brilliant book that I could never forget! An exceptional analysis, so beautifully written as well."

Thank you so much! I certainly won't forget this book either, it is one of my new favorites.


Karen s.penkevich wrote: "Ha, funny, because I am not currently reading Lolita. Isn't it wonderful when you pick books seemingly at random that all work to comment upon each other? Lolita seems to have a few nods to the Stranger as well, though that might be from having the Stranger so fresh in my mind. But some of the lines and writing from jail, plus that Nabokov considered his books 'puzzles with eloquent solutions' and incorporates many allusions, who knows."

You mean you are reading Lolita! When you're done you should search the discussions on this book, they are definitely heated!



s.penkevich Ooo, I will!


Karen s.penkevich wrote: "Ooo, I will!"

It gets nasty! HH is a horrible pervert you know- how could he be anything else?
A great book.


s.penkevich Ha, I think that is what I really love about the book. SO many people come to it with a closed mind, it's practically Literary trolling to use modern lingo ha. There is this great passage by Nabokov where he says it is one of three American publishing taboos, the other two being a loving black and white interracial couple with children and grandchildren; the other being a successful, kind, adored atheist who dies peacefully in his sleep at 106. He pretties it up with his prose, but you get the point (though clearly this comes from decades ago).


Karen Adored atheists, hmmm. I need to move there.


s.penkevich Haha. Nabokov was so cool. I've been also reading Strong Opinions, which is pretty great and wow was he charismatic.


Karen s.penkevich wrote: "Haha. Nabokov was so cool. I've been also reading Strong Opinions, which is pretty great and wow was he charismatic."

I just put it on my to read list


s.penkevich He was definitely open with opinions. And strongly disliked Dostoevsky, which was a surprise to me.


message 46: by Judi (new) - added it

Judi Another insightful review. This book is up next to read. Thanks.


s.penkevich Judi wrote: "Another insightful review. This book is up next to read. Thanks."

Thank you. It is so good, it has become one of my favorite. Hope you enjoy!


Karen s.penkevich wrote: "He was definitely open with opinions. And strongly disliked Dostoevsky, which was a surprise to me."

Nabokov disliked most authors I think- even Faulkner! Grrr...


message 49: by Jaidee (new)

Jaidee I just realized as I read your glorious review for a second time that I did not press the like button the first time.

even more wonderful the second read was spenks...thank you


Karen A favorite writer of mine, Milan Kundera, has several short essays on this website about Kafka, it's fascinating! If you google the below you will get it.
ITALKYOUBORED "A LAST NOTE FROM MILAN KUNDERA ON KAFKA".


« previous 1
back to top