Mohsin Maqbool's Reviews > The Stranger

The Stranger by Albert Camus
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites

description
The eye-catching front along with back cover of the copy of "The Stranger" (aka "The Outsider") which I read in 1999.

I FOUND the book to be a lot more different than anything else I have ever read. Its opening line: "Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know." Then Albert Camus goes on to describe Mersault's feelings regarding his mother's death. But surprisingly he has none. One is shocked at reading this and finds Camus's hero or rather anti-hero to be absolutely strange or rather a "stranger", which the book's name alludes to.
Here is an extract on how Mersault feels about his Mother.
"When we lived together, Mother was always watching me, but we hardly ever talked. During her first few weeks at the Home she used to cry a good deal. But that was only because she hadn’t settled down. After a month or two she’d have cried if she’d been told to leave the Home. Because this, too, would have been a wrench. That was why, during the last year, I seldom went to see her. Also, it would have meant losing my Sunday—not to mention the trouble of going to the bus, getting my ticket, and spending two hours on the journey each way."
There is a big difference between people who live in the West and those who live in the East. People like Mersault, who belongs to the West, can be extremely insensitive when it comes to aging parents. They prefer sending them to an Old People's Home rather than taking care of them themselves. Here in the East it is exactly the opposite: we take care of parents until death snatches them from us. Visiting parents in Homes once a month or even once a week compares nowhere to having them almost 24/7 in front of your eyes.

description
An amazing black & white sketch of Albert Camus who is no stranger to lovers of literature.

Camus brings out the melancholia of loneliness and a departed friend so beautifully in the following extract:
"A few minutes later one of the women started weeping. She was in the second row and I couldn’t see her face because of another woman in front. At regular intervals she emitted a little choking sob; one had a feeling she would never stop. The others didn’t seem to notice. They sat in silence, slumped in their chairs, staring at the coffin or at their walking sticks or any object just in front of them, and never took their eyes off it. And still the woman sobbed. I was rather surprised, as I didn’t know who she was. I wanted her to stop crying, but dared not speak to her. After a while the keeper bent toward her and whispered in her ear; but she merely shook her head, mumbled something I couldn’t catch, and went on sobbing as steadily as before.
The keeper got up and moved his chair beside mine. At first he kept silent; then, without looking at me, he explained.
“She was devoted to your mother. She says your mother was her only friend in the world, and now she’s all alone.”
I had nothing to say, and the silence lasted quite a while. Presently the woman’s sighs and sobs became less frequent, and, after blowing her nose and snuffling for some minutes, she, too, fell silent."

description
Mersault indulges in his favourite pastime: watching everyday going-ons from his bedroom balcony/veranda. Who doesn't like doing that!

Mersault loved looking at the world from his bedroom balcony. That gave him enough reason not to mix with people; that was the best way to remain an introvert.
"My bedroom overlooks the main street of our district. Though it was a fine afternoon, the paving blocks were black and glistening. What few people were about seemed in an absurd hurry. First of all there came a family, going for their Sunday-afternoon walk; two small boys in sailor suits, with short trousers hardly down to their knees, and looking rather uneasy in their Sunday best; then a little girl with a big pink bow and black patent-leather shoes. Behind them was their mother, an enormously fat woman in a brown silk dress, and their father, a dapper little man, whom I knew by sight. He had a straw hat, a walking stick, and a butterfly tie. Seeing him beside his wife, I understood why people said he came of a good family and had married beneath him.
Next came a group of young fellows, the local “bloods,” with sleek oiled hair, red ties, coats cut very tight at the waist, braided pockets, and square-toed shoes. I guessed they were going to one of the big theatres in the centre of the town. That was why they had started out so early and were hurrying to the streetcar stop, laughing and talking at the top of their voices."

description
Albert Camus's famous novel, "The Stranger", was adapted into a Swedish play, "Främlingen". Niklas Asker illustrated the chilling image for the play's poster.

Mersault kills an Arab without having a valid reason to do so. Nobody in his right mind does that. But then is Mersault really in his right mind? He seems to be totally out of focus. In fact, he does not seem to care about anything; be it an office promotion or reciprocating a woman's love or even his existence.

description
Luchino Visconti's "The Stranger" makes it to the August 1968 cover of Films and Filming.

The strangeness of "The Stranger" (or "The Outsider") is what attracts readers to the book and keeps them glued right till the very end.
The French-Algerian writer Albert Camus would definitely have written more novels on "absurdism" had his life not been cut short in an automobile accident on January 4, 1960, in Burgundy, France.

description
Marcello Mastroianni as "The Stranger" in Luchino Visconti's 1967 film.

Watch Visconti's "The Stranger" by clicking on the following link .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-ChQ...

description
The front sleeve of The Cure's "Killing An Arab".

description
The single's back sleeve with the band's clarification.

Camus' "The Stranger" inspired The Cure's "Killing An Arab". Click on link to watch the official video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPU84...
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 1999 – Finished Reading
May 28, 2013 – Shelved
September 13, 2016 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)

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Cheryl I agree that this strangeness is what makes this short read so alluring. Meursault was unhinged and peculiar, so the reading ride with him was eventful. Thanks for the friend request. I look forward to discussing more book experiences.


Mohsin Maqbool Cheryl wrote: "I agree that this strangeness is what makes this short read so alluring. Meursault was unhinged and peculiar, so the reading ride with him was eventful. Thanks for the friend request. I look forwar..."

Cheryl: Somehow I had missed reading your comment on the day you posted it and saw it just now when a couple of people recently liked my review.
Yes, Mersault's peculiarity is what shocks you most of the way, but then it also makes you like the book and its author for writing something so different from formulaic stuff.
You are most welcome where the friend request is concerned. Yes, indeed! Please feel free to discuss more book experiences whenever you want to.
Have a wonderful week.


Franco  Santos Great review, Mohsin! I really enjoyed this book, too.


Mohsin Maqbool Thank you, Franco. I am glad you did. :)
I intend to read Albert Camus's "The Plague" next year.


message 5: by Bianca (new) - added it

Bianca Great review. I am yet to read Camus. One day ...


Mohsin Maqbool Thank you, Bianca. Do read Camus's "The Stranger" soon, as you are truly missing something special!


message 7: by Ben (new)

Ben Ballin It's a remarkable book, Mohsin. If you liked it, I would thoroughly recommend 'The Plague' and 'The Fall' as well.


Mohsin Maqbool Ben wrote: "It's a remarkable book, Mohsin. If you liked it, I would thoroughly recommend 'The Plague' and 'The Fall' as well."

Indeed, Ben! I will add more to my review soon. So do check it out again. I read "The Fall" in 2013. I also have "The Plague" in my collection and will do my best to read it this year.


Glenn Russell Thanks, Mohsin. And you are right - Camus would have gone on to write a number of other classic works if he wasn't in that car accident. As I understand, quite ironically, his publisher was the driver of the car traveling at high-speed.


message 10: by Ben (new)

Ben Ballin Fabulous. I have not re-read 'The Plague' for a while, but recall it as feeling like his most complete (and in some ways most conventional) novel: a real masterpiece. I re-read 'The Fall' a year or two ago, and it remains a challenging and intriguing work, a true novel of ideas.


James The Outsider, The Plague and The Fall - all great books. The Outsider stands out to me as the strongest. The First Man is good too.


message 12: by Ben (new)

Ben Ballin As are the short stories in 'Exile and the Kingdom' ... and his two philosophical works, 'The Myth of Sisyphus' and 'The Rebel'. I am less convinced of his abilities as a playwright.


Mohsin Maqbool Ben wrote: "As are the short stories in 'Exile and the Kingdom' ... and his two philosophical works, 'The Myth of Sisyphus' and 'The Rebel'. I am less convinced of his abilities as a playwright."

Indeed, Ben! I totally agree with you.


Mohsin Maqbool Glenn wrote: "Thanks, Mohsin. And you are right - Camus would have gone on to write a number of other classic works if he wasn't in that car accident. As I understand, quite ironically, his publisher was the dri..."

You are most welcome, Glenn. Most often than not drivers lead their masters/owners/employers to their death!


Mohsin Maqbool Ben wrote: "Fabulous. I have not re-read 'The Plague' for a while, but recall it as feeling like his most complete (and in some ways most conventional) novel: a real masterpiece. I re-read 'The Fall' a year or..."

Thank you, Ben. I read "The Fall" three and a half years back but with a long gap. I liked the first half but did not the second half. Maybe my viewpoint changed because of the inconsistency in reading. I intend picking it up again this year along with "The Plague" which will be for the first time.


Mohsin Maqbool James wrote: "The Outsider, The Plague and The Fall - all great books. The Outsider stands out to me as the strongest. The First Man is good too."

Yes, James, most people consider "The Stranger" aka "The Outsider" to be his best work. "The Exile and the Kingdom" is supposed to be good too. I have read "The Fall" but have yet to read "The Plague".


message 17: by Lata (new)

Lata I read this many years ago in French lit when I was a teen. I think much of what Camus was doing in this book was lost on me at that time.
I like your review.


Mohsin Maqbool Lata wrote: "I read this many years ago in French lit when I was a teen. I think much of what Camus was doing in this book was lost on me at that time.
I like your review."


Thank you, Lata. Some books and some films that we don't understand during our schooldays our teens or even during our 20s/30s on going through them again at a later stage in life, we absolutely love them. And some which we had loved during those days, on reading those books again or re-watching the films we find them to be stupid or totally nonsense. I did not think much of Richard Bach's "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" during the mid-80s, now I love reading it. I could not understand the film "The Dogs of War" when I first watched it in 1983, now I love it. Perceptions change with time.
Do read the book again, I am sure you are going to love it. And when you do, please let me know your viewpoint.


message 19: by Ahsan (new)

Ahsan Maqbool Great Review Mohsin! I had heard Albert Camus' name but had never read any of his novels. Now after reading the praises in the comments I will make it a point to read his books, but before doing that I am going to watch the movie "The Stranger" as it has the great Marcello Mastroianni in it, whom I adore.


Mohsin Maqbool Ahsan wrote: "Great Review Mohsin! I had heard Albert Camus' name but had never read any of his novels. Now after reading the praises in the comments I will make it a point to read his books, but before doing th..."

Shukriya, Bhai. Camus' name was also mentioned in "The Prize", which starred Paul Newman. I loved the film.
I too will be watching Mastroianni's film soon. Do hear The Cure song too. It was one of my favourite bands.


message 21: by Katie (new)

Katie Great review. And thanks for the link to Visconti's film. I've wanted to see that for ages.


Mohsin Maqbool Katie wrote: "Great review. And thanks for the link to Visconti's film. I've wanted to see that for ages."

Thank you, Katie. You are most welcome. Even I am going to watch it now for the first time. ;)


message 23: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy If I had to list the books that influenced me most as a young man, Albert Camus's The Stranger would be a strong competitor for the #1 spot.


Mohsin Maqbool Jimmy wrote: "If I had to list the books that influenced me most as a young man, Albert Camus's The Stranger would be a strong competitor for the #1 spot."

I am delighted to hear that, Jimmy. Where I am concerned, I found the book to be unique in the sense that I had never read anything like it and loved it. It also made me on the lookout for books that were not formulaic and had something unusual to say or would make me think about it for a long, long time. In other words, it should be unforgettable like Camus' "The Stranger".


message 25: by Katie (new)

Katie Mohsin wrote: "Katie wrote: "Great review. And thanks for the link to Visconti's film. I've wanted to see that for ages."

Thank you, Katie. You are most welcome. Even I am going to watch it now for the first tim..."


I watched it last night. Brilliant. And the actress playing Mastroianni's girlfriend is gorgeous!


message 26: by Christine (new)

Christine Zibas Very nice review. Although I have long known about the book, I've never read it, and you offer up some real insight, particularly with the quotes you have chosen.


Mohsin Maqbool Katie wrote: "I watched it last night. Brilliant. And the actress playing Mastroianni's girlfriend is gorgeous!.."

Katie: Even I watched it on Sunday morning and loved it. The one who played Mastroianni's girlfriend is a talented French actress called Anna Karina. She is indeed gorgeous!


Mohsin Maqbool Christine wrote: "Very nice review. Although I have long known about the book, I've never read it, and you offer up some real insight, particularly with the quotes you have chosen."

Thank you so much, Christine. Yes, do read the book. I am sure you are going to love it. Just in case if you don't understand something, feel free to ask me and I will explain it to you. Have a superb week. :)


Mohsin Maqbool Jean-Paul wrote: "Mesmerizing review, Mohsin. The illustrations fitted your write-up to perfection!"

Thank you so much, Jean-Paul. I am delighted by your generous comment.


message 30: by Zoeb (new) - added it

Zoeb Loved the review and even more the wonderful visual references to films and videos inspired by this iconic work of literature. You are also right in suggesting that whatever Meursault does is something that each one of us, deep inside, has always wanted to do.


Mohsin Maqbool Zoeb wrote: "Loved the review and even more the wonderful visual references to films and videos inspired by this iconic work of literature. You are also right in suggesting that whatever Meursault does is somet..."

Zoeb: I am delighted that you "loved" my review and "even more the wonderful visual references to films and videos inspired by this iconic work of literature".
All of us are akin to the "stranger" in some way as we can act strangely sometimes. Besides, several facets of us remain hidden from the rest of the world, including our parents and siblings. However, we might share them with our family or some of its members when the time is ripe.


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