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Kirk Guckenberg "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."

What is your opinion


Geoffrey His life would have some meaning as its end would have generated an emotional response to his detractors. Here`s a man whose cosmological notions of an indifferent universe mirror his own ennui. A rousing cheer of hateful cries would have confirmed for him a society at odds with his own philosophical attitude. Probably deep inside, buried in his unconscious, is the insight that by their adverse approbation, they would umbrage to his "outrageous" indifference as they secretly fear his thoughts to be the truth. There is nothing more revealing than those angry with what you have to say or stand for that they know yours is the truth they can`t face, thereby granting you hero status.


Kirk Guckenberg I really like that angle !


message 4: by djt (new) - rated it 3 stars

djt Looking back on my comment for this book,one of the things I had a problem with was the ending; it was open-ended, which is great, but I found it to be flat. Reading your perspective on the ending, Geoffrey, makes a lot of sense and brings a better view to the ending. From this sentence, I thought it exemplified his arrogance and his extreme sociopathic nature, wishing people were there to applaud him, for himself; a wish to be recognized and admired, even in his last breath. The end... not too thought-provoking. Your understanding of this, though, is really great. Of course this must have been how it was intended, because then he really would have been the victor in his game. Thank you for your comments. They've given me a better understanding of what the author's intent probably was meant to be.


Geoffrey And equally your comments struck a resonant chord with me, djean, as to the "victor in his game". That adds to my perspective.


Arjun Kumar I'm no expert on Camus, but this is what I believe Camus believed (at least when he wrote this):

Camus believed that life was pointless and that all you can do in life is try to enjoy it. Camus did not think that one should attach meaning to life, or try to figure out what the point was, because there was no point. I don't think Camus believed that one should try and impose their way of life onto other people. This is shown by Mersault freaking out when the priest is trying to push religion and the afterlife on him. This was the only time he really showed emotion in the book.

That being said, I do like your interpretation Geoffrey. Camus's philosophy is not really received all that well by society. To add to what you said, Geoffrey, Camus/Mersault don't believe that they should impose their way of life on others. Mersault accepting death is his way of accepting that people don't accept his point of view. He's ok with that, as he is ok with death. However, all he can do at this point is hope that people acknowledge his point of view, which is symbolized by people showing up to the execution.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I think Geoffrey pretty much nailed it. I really like the thought that Mersault almost understands his own superiority in how he faces this existential crisis, thus he knows that he is the hero, and the people killing him simply cannot face up to reality. And in the exact same context he understands that he is no hero because there can be no heroes, the indifference of the universe kills the possibility of anything but overwhelming recognition of it, submission to it, and continued life, or immediate death for that matter.


Arjun Kumar I think you added a good point about there being no heros. To Camus, everything is equal because nothing has meaning. To say that one is greater or worse than another would be assigning meaning. With that in mind, I don't think Meursalt would view himself as a hero because it would greatly contradict his view on life (given that Meursalt is a representation of Camus's philosophy).


Riddhiman Camus held that even with people accepting the absurd, i.e the meaninglessness of the universe, they could construct a meaning for themselves that would be entirely personal. The last monologue of Monsieur Mersault, in my opinion points to a constructed meaning of his, to want his demise to be a memorable event, an optimistic though in the circumstances


message 10: by Bill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill H. "Summer in Algiers" is an excellent essay to read to understand something of Mersault's outlook, living life sensuously. His last thought still puzzles me because he has not heretofore sought to make himself a spectacle or any kind of hero (or anti-hero). It's as if, to feel less alone, to have human relationships, he now accepts the popular condemnation that so surprised him during the trial. Or, if he sees himself as heroic, Sydney Carton on the scaffold, he is the very essence of absurdity himself. If he is conscious of that absurdity, he has in some sense, surmounted it in embracing it. Ambiguity and choices.


message 11: by Jan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan There may have been an evolution in Camus' thinking, in his outlook. I don't disagree with the comments here, but five years after The Stranger, he released the novel The Plague where a doctor finds or creates meaning in his life by caring for those who need him and thereby influences an uncaring or indifferent reporter. Nine years later he wrote The Fall, which I found to be his most enjoyable book - a philosophical discussion in a bar.


message 12: by Bill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill H. Certainly agree with the evolution Jan sees. Perhaps then Mersault's last thought is a step away from indifference and living for the moment, a step toward rejoining humanity in its struggle--even while acknowledging (as the doctor does)that one's efforts may not change a thing. The plague left and the plague may come again. Perhaps a lesson the German occupation taught the French.


message 13: by Jan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan Maybe Mersault prefigured by more than ten years the alienation and nonconformity of James Dean in Rebel without a Cause and in the generation of others to follow. Mersault says "Nothing matters and I know why. . . what did his God or the lives other people chose matter to me. . . when we are all elected by the same fate? I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world . . and felt I was happy again."

In The Fall, Camus tells us "Don't wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place everyday. . . Freedom is not a reward. . . not a gift. . it's a chore. . quite solitary and exhausting. . . to decide in the face of oneself or the judgments of others."

Camus later adds that freedom (and with it, judgment)is often too heavy to bear therefore man creates dreadful rules but believes only in sin and not in grace - acceptance, surrender, happiness, which is what he really wants.


message 14: by Mark (last edited Apr 03, 2014 05:30AM) (new) - added it

Mark Wow! I can't tell you how fired up I am that I found this discussion. As Geoffrey already knows, I blah blah blah at length (and with passion) in various Goodreads discussions. Tracking down all the comments I've made hither and yon would be a daunting task. But I am certain I've expressed what I'm about to say here somewhere else before.

I hold in my trembling hands at this moment my yellowed paperback edition of The Stranger. It's a Vintage Books (a division of Random House) edition translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert.


What follows is the final sentence from that edition.

"For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration."


That's "execration". The experience of reading this book in my college years, and in particular that ending, really left an impression on my mind. Many years later I was in a bookstore and saw a newly published edition of The Stranger on the shelves. A cover blurb boasted, I noticed later, it was a "bold, new translation."

Many a book I've read has moved me. And I don't recall the exact words of how many of those began or ended. I remembered the final sentence of The Stranger, though. And thinking about that while I stood in this bookstore, I flipped to the last page and found "hate" instead of "execration."

I tossed the book back on the shelf, disgusted. "So these are the kind of manipulations and whims I am subject to as a reader of the translations," I thought to myself.

In my mind, the word "execration" made Meursalt's defiant desire for alienation in the face of certain death profound.

This word was the coda struck in a gut-wrenching symphony concert followed by the silence of the abyss.

This word was the last wish and curse made by a man who then spat out his cigarette, refused the offered blind fold and waited for the trembling soldiers in the firing line to take aim and shoot, safe from blame in their cowardly unison.

By contrast, "hate" seemed pedestrian, one-dimensional and a result of some one mailing it in. I was shaking with anger. "Hate"?!? This is the best you can do? Oh have mercy, look at what they have done to our song, Mr. Camus.

I'd love to find some dissection or explanation of the ending of the book as Camus originally wrote it in his native tongue. I presume nuances exist that motivated one translator to choose "execration" and the other to choose, well, that other word.

Maybe I have a somewhat emotional bond to my initial experience reading the book and this is all overblown. But the older I get the more I become convinced that rarely are the newer versions of most things better.


Petergiaquinta And "howls" is so much better than "cries." But then you and I are of an age, eh mon frere?


Petergiaquinta Here, though, is the original:

Pour que tout soit consommé, pour que je me sente moins seul, il me restait à souhaiter qu’il y ait beaucoup de spectateurs le jour de mon exécution et qu’ils m’accueillent avec des cris de haine.


And I hate to say it, but the new translation is probably closer. Still, I'm with you...I like better what I read way back in high school. It was powerful, and it still resonates with me today.

Any French speakers want to weigh in here?


message 17: by Paul Martin (last edited Apr 03, 2014 04:44AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Martin Petergiaquinta wrote: "Here, though, is the original:

Pour que tout soit consommé, pour que je me sente moins seul, il me restait à souhaiter qu’il y ait beaucoup de spectateurs le jour de mon exécution et qu’ils m’a..."


I'm actually bilingual, my father was French.
I'm almost sorry to say this, but as far as I know, 'hate' is the correct translation for 'haine'.

Of course, it's possible that the meaning Camus intended it to have when he wrote it was closer to "execration", although I must say I doubt it. French is a much more "stable" language than English is. I have more trouble reading English books from the 18th century than I do with French, even though after my father passed away I haven't really used my French a lot, whereas I use English several times a week. It has to be said though, I'm not too familiar with the word "execration", so it might be closer to the orginital meaning of "haine", even though "hate" is the normal translation (and has been for some time, as far as I know).

I don't really know much about it, I guess we'd need some kind of bilingual historical linguist to find the answer to this.


message 18: by Mark (last edited Apr 03, 2014 05:21AM) (new) - added it

Mark Paul Martin wrote: "I'm almost sorry to say this, but as far as I know, 'hate' is the correct translation for 'haine'."

Thanks Paul & Peter. I'd like to know more linguistic details too, but I'm not so sorry about this discovery. I'm comfortable with the notion that Stuart Gilbert quite possibly, at least for this unilingual English language reader, improved upon the original. After reading your posts I tried the admittedly nearly impossible mental exercise of imagining the "hate" version being the one I had read first. Owing to the emotional impact of the full freight of the story, might I not feel as passionately about that final sentence had it ended with "hate" on my initial encounter?

If you've read Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, you've no doubt thought much about how a thing once done can never really be done a first time again but only redone (or something along those lines but expressed far more elegantly. If you haven't read it: recommended.). So I suppose my mental exercise above is not so much "nearly" impossible as it is flat out impossible. All that said, I still can't imagine "hate" would have had the same impact on me as "execration" even on first encounter.

Perhaps French doesn't brandish deep seated emotions as carelessly as American English? Is it possible the French language invokes "hate" more consistently as a strong stance. A speaker of American English might be mildly perturbed by, for example, his glasses constantly sliding down his nose and not hesitate to say, "I hate when this keeps happening." That's casual in a way that "execration" could never be.


message 19: by Paul Martin (last edited Apr 03, 2014 05:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Martin Mark wrote: "Is it possible the French language invokes "hate" more consistently as a strong stance".

Yes, I think you're right about that. A French speaker would not (in my experience) say that he hais when his glsses slide down his nose. More likely he'd use a word like déteste, énerve or something of the sort.

Again, I'm not an authority on this, but my impression is that haine is meant to be the most profound expression of its sort. Maybe it's as you say, that Stuart Gilbert didn't fancy the idea of translating it into hate, seeing how hate is thrown around with no care.


Paul Martin Mark wrote: Is it possible the French language invokes "hate" more consistently as a strong stance.

So, I guess this discussion is kind of dead, but if anyone's interested, I think what Mark said here is correct.

I've looked a bit into this, and from what I can tell, haine is definitely a word reserved for an extreme feeling of dislike that transcends what people usually mean when they say that they "hate" something.

So, as the two languages have evolved, I think it's safe to say that haine always conveys the meaning of hate, but hate does not necessarily convey the meaning of haine.


message 21: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Paul Martin wrote: "I've looked a bit into this, and from what I can tell, haine is definitely a word reserved for an extreme feeling of dislike that transcends what people usually mean when they say that they 'hate' something ..."

It is not inconsequential, I now am able to assume, that the Britisher who Stephen Dedalus despises in the first chapter of Ulysses is named "Haines."

Thanks, Paul.


message 22: by Mkfs (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mkfs Paul Martin wrote: "I've looked a bit into this, and from what I can tell, haine is definitely a word reserved for an extreme feeling of dislike that transcends what people usually mean when they say that they "hate" something."

My associations with the word haine go back to the film, La Haine (I don't speak French, though I have been known to mumble or slur my way through it).

According to ye ole wikiscreedia:

The title derives from a line spoken by one of them, Hubert: "La haine attire la haine !", "hatred breeds hatred."


If what Camus meant by haine is anything like the hatred, contempt, and loathing expressed in this film, then Mark's preference of execration over hatred is spot on.


message 23: by Paul Martin (last edited Apr 29, 2014 09:59AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Martin Mkfs wrote: If what Camus meant by haine is anything like the hatred, contempt, and loathing expressed in this film, then Mark's preference of execration over hatred is spot on.

That's very possible. I wouldn't know, as I'm not too familiar with the word "execration".

One of the persons I asked (my old French teacher, now works at the uni) said that haine is often considered as a more "active" feeling (if that makes any sense to you) than hate, and your reference to what goes on in that excellent movie backs it up, in a way.


message 24: by Mkfs (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mkfs Paul Martin wrote: "That's very possible. I wouldn't know, as I'm not too familiar with the word "execration"."

The basic meaning is to curse, condemn, or damn. I have always found that the similarity in spelling to excrete provides a colorful illustration of the feeling, to wit: to take a dump on.


Paul Martin Colourful, indeed!


Petergiaquinta Mark wrote: "It is not inconsequential, I now am able to assume, that the Britisher who Stephen Dedalus despises in the first chapter of Ulysses is named "Haines."

Holy cow...nice one, Mark. Or should I say, "Leopold"?


message 27: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Petergiaquinta wrote: "Or should I say, "Leopold"?"

Been awfully quiet over in THAT discussion, mon frere.

Paul--you should join us in our group read of Ulysses. Get it out of the way while you're young.

Mkfs?


message 28: by Paul Martin (last edited Apr 29, 2014 03:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Martin Mark wrote: "Petergiaquinta wrote: "Or should I say, "Leopold"?"

Been awfully quiet over in THAT discussion, mon frere.

Paul--you should join us in our group read of Ulysses. Get it out of the way while you'..."


God, I hoped you wouldn't ask me that.

It's up there on the shelf, staring at me like an old aunt whom I forgot to thank for yesteryear's Christmas present. I know it and she knows it, but now it's just gotten too uncomfortable to talk about, so we just stare at each other now and then, both waiting for the other to make the first move.



Jokes aside, though, I will be giving it a try after my exams, so Mid-may. If you're not all done by then, I might be able to catch up. I assume none of you ancient dinosaurs have 3 months of summer vacation;)


message 29: by Mkfs (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mkfs Just re-read Portrait of the Artist for the "Brain Pain" group.

Not sure I can manage a full-re-read of Ulysses so soon, but there are sections I would like to revisit.

Are you guys in the 2014 reading challenge?


message 30: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Mkfs wrote: "Are you guys in the 2014 reading challenge?"

I've set one up for myself, if that's what you mean. So far have read 8 of 36 books.


message 31: by Mkfs (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mkfs Mark wrote: "I've set one up for myself, if that's what you mean. So far have read 8 of 36 books."

Was referring to your Ulysses group/discussion. There are a few Ulysses topics under the 2014 Reading Challenge discussion. You'll be happy to know that Cosmic is taking part in the May reading of it ;)


José  Volta I just The Stranger now (Portuguese versi) and let Porverletnme tell you, your analysis is simply perfect. Thank you, amazing discussion.


José  Volta I just finished*, portuguese version*, let me tell you*


message 34: by djt (new) - rated it 3 stars

djt Zé wrote: "I just The Stranger now (Portuguese versi) and let Porverletnme tell you, your analysis is simply perfect. Thank you, amazing discussion."

Thank you.


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