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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 15, 2010 03:47PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments The Stranger by Albert Camus The Stranger

Albert Camus Albert Camus


I am putting this thread up for a Buddy Read. We plan to read it after we read our April Group read of Camus' other book, The Plague.

So far, Deborah, Jessica and I plan to read it.

I'm putting the thread up now, to alert others who may want to join us. And if I don't put up a thread for it now, I will forget ! :)


message 2: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments synopsis:

Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd."


message 3: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 17, 2010 07:59AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Chapter 1

I read chapter 1 last night. The first thing that struck me was how different the style of writing was from The Plague. Even though I read this while in college, I don't recall the novel very well. No reflection on Camus, more on my poor memory. I still have the book that I read in college. I purchased it used for $1. And since I had bought it used, I not only have my marginalia but someone else's too ! The writing style here is short brisk sentences. Much in the Hemingway style. I think it works well. It seems to fit Meursault. It's a detached impersonal style.

I also noticed a lot of themes. If they lead anywhere or if they mean anything I don't know. I used a highlighter pen to keep track of them in chapter 1.

To begin, there is a dispassionate way that Meursault (from here on M.) talks about his mothers death. He says he is unaware of how old she was. And the opening sentence of the book seems to suggest that he doesn't seem too concerned with the details of her death. As if she is a stranger.

Reoccurring ideas such as:

He doesn't talk much. Silence. I highlighted the word silence and his saying he didn't want to talk. It is peppered all over the first chapter.

The feeling that people are blaming him for something (boss, funeral director, other mourners).

His lack of focus. He says many times that he isn't paying attention.

The light and the sun are mentioned a lot. The heat and haze almost seem to become another character in the novel.

The marginalia from another person noted in my book that the M. notices the surroundings in detail before focusing on the coffin of his mother.

He seems to sleep a lot. Deborah, I thought of your comments on Franny and Zooey when I read this. He falls asleep on the bus, in the chapel, he can "hardly keep his eyes open" and he "dozed off for a while." "Then I fell asleep again." The chapter closes with his dreaming of sleeping 12 hours at a stretch.

The people in the Home are called "inmates"

The book was written in 1942 in the middle of WWII. And it is a soldier on the bus whom he falls asleep against.

Well, that's all I have for chapter 1. :)


message 4: by madrano (last edited Apr 18, 2010 07:42AM) (new)

madrano | 12350 comments PART ONE--may contain spoilers but i've marked them

I finished Part 1 last night. This book is small but, even so, reads quickly. The main character seems ordinary but not, if this makes sense. Maybe it's his honestly which seems unusual.

As Alias wrote, it's a different style, more direct, in many ways. We learn of his mom's death, his reaction. It's odd but with the first sentence i expected that he was torn apart by her passing, so much so that he'd lost sense of time. Indeed, not! However, he is more distraught than his words tell, i believe. The silence which Alias mentioned is one thing which struck me. And twice in the first chapter he used the word "surprise(d)", which i thought was unusual, given it's a funeral. I thought this was significant but it hasn't been used since, so i guess not. ;-)

I noticed that about "inmates" but wondered if this is Camus or the translation. It seemed an odd usage but maybe there wasn't anything stronger between "resident" and "inmate". Regardless, that seemed uncomfortable to me.

BEYOND CHAPTER ONE--SPOILERS BELOW

His lack of emotion, for lack of a better word, is interesting. The offer of a new responsibility in his job, for instance. Then there is almost a matter of convenience with his female partner, Marie, rather than any real care, even when she asks about love. I'm asking myself if this is still a sort of stunned reaction to his mother's death or not, as it's gone on a while.

And there seems to be a sort of theme on loss. First, of course, his mother. Then, the neighbor's dog (but even prior to that, the dog's hair loss); and, in an odd way, the loss of Raymond's lover. Naturally, this brings to mind the various ways they cope with their loss. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the story unfolds.

Finally, the light & sun seem to play a vital part in the ending of part 1. We'll see how (or if) that factor continues.

deborah


message 5: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments I'm going to let my previous post stand but i just realized that my edition doesn't call the other people in the "old people's home" inmates. I am using the edition translated by Matthew Ward, which is the same as the icon in the first post of this thread. Alias, yours is older, so i'm wondering who translated yours.

ANYway, my translator calls the other residents "patients" or "residents" but even then, only once. Generally they are referred to as his mother's friends.

deb


message 6: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Madrano: I am using the edition translated by Matthew Ward,
==================

My copy is translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert. The edition I have is Vintage Books; a division of Random House New York.

I wasn't able to read yesterday, so I haven't progress beyond chapter 1. However, I plan on getting some reading in today.


message 7: by Sarah (last edited Apr 18, 2010 11:22AM) (new)

Sarah (sarahreader) | 68 comments So interesting to see the discussion of the translation of "inmates" versus "residents" or "patients." It is such a challenge to translate effectively, and to read literature in translation. I haven't joined this discussion, but I do have some memories of reading Camus in school. In my case, I struggled mightily to read the The Stranger in French, for a French literature class, so I was lucky even to get a grasp of the plot, much less the meaning, of the novels or the existentialist philosophy. Anyway, I wanted to point out that the name "Meursault" sounds exactly like mer-sol in French (which means sea-sky), so Deb is probably right on point in identifying the many references to light and sun.


message 8: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Sarah, thank you for giving us a meaning of Meursault. I began wondering about that as i typed up my notes but forgot to check. While reading this in French would be a good lesson in the language, i know i'd be lost trying to get meaning from it! As you wrote, the plot would be my goal.

After finishing the book i checked at Wiki to see what i could learn about the book. They mentioned different translations, as well. I'm rather pleased with what i read but, judging by their comparisons, i think i would have been happy with any. Do NOT read the page until you are finished, as one of their examples is from the Last Page!

deborah


message 9: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 18, 2010 04:12PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Wow ! Without TV you've become a fast reading machine,Deb. I'll try to get some reading in tonight.

Thanks Sarah for the French meaning of Meursault's name. That would have gone right over my head.

Speaking of translations, there is a new book out on the subject. I read about it in the NY Times.

Why Translation Matters (Why X Matters Series) by Edith Grossman Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman

amazon.com
Product Description

Why Translation Matters argues for the cultural importance of translation and for a more encompassing and nuanced appreciation of the translator’s role. As the acclaimed translator Edith Grossman writes in her introduction, “My intention is to stimulate a new consideration of an area of literature that is too often ignored, misunderstood, or misrepresented.”


For Grossman, translation has a transcendent importance: “Translation not only plays its important traditional role as the means that allows us access to literature originally written in one of the countless languages we cannot read, but it also represents a concrete literary presence with the crucial capacity to ease and make more meaningful our relationships to those with whom we may not have had a connection before. Translation always helps us to know, to see from a different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and as individuals, we have a critical need for that kind of understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable.”


Throughout the four chapters of this bracing volume, Grossman’s belief in the crucial significance of the translator’s work, as well as her rare ability to explain the intellectual sphere that she inhabits as interpreter of the original text, inspires and provokes the reader to engage with translation in an entirely new way.
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (March 30, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0300126565
http://www.amazon.com/Why-Translation...


message 10: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 18, 2010 07:24PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Part 1

***Spoilers for Part 1 to follow

I just finished part one. Various themes still are playing out and they seemed to have come to a head with murder.

M. says that nothing really matters. Life or death, murder or life, married or not, love or hate, awake or sleep, it's all the same to him. Life itself holds no intrinsic meaning.

Religious or civil ceremonies are meaningless. At his mother's funeral he acts like a bystander letting others plan it. Getting married or not hold no meaning he doesn't see how that matters on way or another.

Part 1 ends as it began. The heat, the sun and death.


message 11: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments ***Spoilers for Part 1 to follow


I missed that Part 1 ended as it began. Good catch, Alias. Honestly, i didn't have much problem with his sense of feeling apart at his mother's funeral. My belief was that he felt in an alien environment (partly his choice, as he rarely visited) & circumstance. I'd probably let others make the choices, as well. I've been wondering if i'd want to see the body but imagine i would, ultimately. It was more traditional back then but, then again, it was summer & the heat...

deborah


message 12: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments I found Part 2 so compelling that I had to stay up late and finish the novel. A book hasn't made me do that in a very long time.

Gosh, there is so much to think about with this book. I'm so glad I decided to reread it.

Deb, from your remarks in post 11 I think you agree with Camus philosophy of life.


message 13: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Deb, from your remarks in post 11 I think you agree with Camus philosophy of life. ..."

This is a pretty fine example of my thoughts on philosophy, actually. I've felt the way Meursault seems to feel for years but didn't know there was a name for it. Such is the nature of such beasts, i suspect, that if i knew, i'd probably change my attitude about absurdism. LOL!

Alias, i know what you mean, however. I was eager to see how the book would end, as well. The mark of a good book, no doubt. Knowing his ideas on life, i wondered how the character would end his thinking, his own change, if any.

deborah


message 14: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Jessica, I see from you GR page you gave The Plague 5 stars. If you liked The Plague that much, I think you will really like The Stranger.

Even if you can't read it now with us, I do highly recommend the book to you.

Are you done with the Teaching Companies course on philosophy? I hope you can shed some light for me on absurdism. I don't feel I have a firm handle on it. Thanks !


message 15: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 19, 2010 03:54PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments ***Comments on entire book to follow

These are just some things I underline or wrote in my book.

I thought it very interesting how M. was essentially put on trial for not conforming to the behavior that society expects. He was on trial for this as much as for killing the Arab.

The trial is a farce. Anytime someone speaks up on his behalf the judge has them "led away", told to "stand down" or the judge "rebukes them".

At one point his lawyer says, "Is my client on trial for having buried his mother, or for killing a man?"

The prosecutor says, " In short, I accuse the prisoner of behaving at his mother's funeral in a way that showed he was already a criminal at heart."

Even M. realizes it, and says, this is "more in fact, about me personally than about my crime."


The prosecutor said, "Gentlemen of the jury, I would have you not that on the next day after his mother's funeral that man was visiting the swimming pool, starting a liaison with a girl, and going to see a comic film. That is all I wish to say." Later on he charges, "This man is morally guilty of his mother's death."

M. doesn't seem to care about many things. He is content to do his job, and seeks no advancement. Prison or free it's all the same to him. He could live in a truck of a tree and be happy he says. His mothers death his notes didn't change his life much. He has no remorse for killing the Arab. He doesn't seem to care that he was caught, sent to prison, and may be put to death. He says, "I didn't feel much regret for what I'd done.... I have never been able to really regret anything in all my life."


The theme of time comes up a lot. M. seems to lose track of it often. He says he is happy to be "killing time" He calls the time when the sun sets "the nameless hour."

M. doesn't get involved in the process of his trial. Just like at his mothers funeral he lets others take charge.

He says about that magistrate, with his life on the line, "that he didn't take him quite seriously." He says of the trial, "I hardly took stock of what was happening."

I thought it interesting that he denied the Chaplin 3 times when he was asked to visit him. Christ was denied 3 times. I am not sure how this fits but it is the first thing that came to my mind when I read that.

Do you think he was dispassionate about it all becasue death will come to us all? What M. cared about was living in the now. Not the past or future.

One thing I can't figure out with his (Camus) philosophy was why he killed the Arab.

Am I right in thinking the philosophy is that we must accept that life is absurd and just live our lives for the now, not some future reward in a afterlife. But how does he explain his indifference to the man he killed? Is his life not worth anything?

If one accepts the premise that life is meaningless how can man be happy?

Is it destiny/fate that controls? So why fight against it?

If M. does not believe in God, than how does that fit with the notion of destiny/fate?

I'm confusing myself ! :)

I am going to search the web and see if I can come up with some help.


message 16: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Comments on entire book to follow

Like you, Alias, i was amazed that it appeared he was guilty not because he pulled the trigger but because he didn't mourn his mother properly! Camus made an excellent case for this & put it into perspective. People watch! They may go along with you & not comment, but they are taking notes for later. I was surprised by this. A small example would be the coffee & cigarette while with the coffin. It seemed odd to me, but i figured that was the custom. Not so, it seemed.

However, i noted exactly what you did. There seemed to be no thoughts about ending the life of another human in M's thinking. I don't know what Camus wanted us to think about this but it's puzzling. I cannot believe that someone with the absurdist view would not dwell upon this fact. Maybe it's that once it passed, there was nothing to be done for it, so don't think about it? That seems wrong-headed but i don't know enough about the philosophy to say for certain.

ALIAS ASKED--
"If one accepts the premise that life is meaningless how can man be happy?

Is it destiny/fate that controls? So why fight against it? "

Did you find any answers in your research? My thoughts are only guesses, based on what i read & think about the book. Because we don't see M happy, it would be easy to say a person may not be happy. However, he stated he was content. That his entire life he had been content. This seemed to conform with his actions & words. He had nothing negative or positive, his life was almost lived as an observation.

If the entire world was absurd, then the question about fate/destiny is even larger. As it is, he can see fate in the way lives intersect with his but still only see it as his life & reactions. But if everyone felt that way, what would happen? I don't know & i feel it is confusing.

We can't call M. lazy, as he does his work, interacts with friends, eats, makes love, builds friendships. It's the lack of intensity, i suppose, that is called into question. He seems to observe but make no judgments. What a life.

And what about the woman from the restaurant who checked off radio programs? Why is she in court? What is she to the book? This was an odd, tiny character.

deborah


message 17: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 20, 2010 06:34AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Deb:And what about the woman from the restaurant who checked off radio programs? Why is she in court? What is she to the book? This was an odd, tiny character.

--------------------

I used to see people reading and marking TV Guide on their subway commutes. I guess with the on screen cable guides, people don't buy TV Guide like they used to as I haven't seen it much. I had an aunt you used to save at least 4 issues before discarding. Why? I haven't a clue.

I always found it a little sad/pathetic when I used to see people studying the TV Guide.

Why was she is the novel? The first thought that came to my mind was she was like the characters in The Plague (cat spitter & bean counter). She was totally caught up with the radio programing and completely ignored a living human being, M., that was sitting at the table with her.

It is sort of analogous to todays world where people will be having dinner and instead of interacting with the other dinners they text on their cells and make calls.

I haven't had a chance yet to surf the net for commentary on the novel. I'll try to do that today.


message 18: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments When I come across something in a newspaper or magazine that comments on a book I own, many times I'll cut it out and stick it in the book.

Well, in my copy of The Stranger, is a newspaper article that I clipped from a church newspaper.

What is odd to me now that I recently read the book, is it seems to contradict Camus. Which makes me wonder why the priest cited the book at all. I guess it addresses what we all feel at times. The meaningless of the world/life. And he gave his answer to that. Though I think Camus would beg to differ with his answer. The priest that comes to see M. in jail, sort of has the same point of view as this article.

The title of the article is, "Jesus makes sense of what seems absurd" by Father John P.Cush. The article is too long for me to type out. But some key lines are:

Caught up in the ennui, the tragic condition of chaos that is life, Camus proposes that life is absurd. There is only my desire for order encountering the desire for order of another person. The collision of these two desires for order creates chaos, which is the basic state of existence for the human being.

The author goes on to discuss the question of drudgery of the human condition and with the answer for the despair that can often be our reaction to the absurdity of life. He compares it to the suffering of Job. He notes we live in a world in which suffering is a very real presence. To deny this is, in and of itself, absurd. Sickness is real, Sin is real. Death, too, is real. People whom we love can betray us. People whom we respect can disappoint us. Trouble and tragedy abound. Problems, personal and global, can strip our confidence away and leave us, like Meursault, cold and emotionally drained.

The author say, the Jesus is the answer to these problems. When the tragedy and horror of the world weigh us down, when life hurts, the one to whom we turn is the Lord Jesus. He understands. Unlike Meursault, He is no stranger. Out of chaos and absurdity comes reason and truth in Jesus The Christ.

The article says a lot more, to support this view, but I think you get the drift.

The last part reminds me of a question I wanted to ask. Who is The Stranger? M? Is that the way people view him? The odd man apart... a stranger. That is what I thought.


message 19: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 20, 2010 07:43AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Another article I have tucked in my copy of the novel is a October 1997 review from the Sunday NY Times.

Albert Camus A Life by Olivier ToddAlbert Camus: A Life by Olivier Todd

http://www.amazon.com/Albert-Camus-Li...

Olivier Todd's biography of Albert Camus matches its subject's depth by portraying the man as well as the moralist. Born in Algeria and raised in poverty by an illiterate mother, Camus never forgot where he came from. He made his name in Nazi-occupied Paris--publicly as the author of The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus, covertly as a member of the Resistance and editor of its newspaper, Combat--but he longed for the North African sun of his youth. During the years of crisis when Algeria struggled to break free from France, Camus alienated both colonialists and revolutionaries by supporting full equality for Arabs but denouncing terrorism. "I believe in justice," he told an Algerian heckler at a 1957 meeting he addressed in Stockholm after winning the Nobel Prize. "But I will defend my mother before justice." It is this preference for the concrete over the abstract that makes Camus such an appealing thinker. Todd's biography, which offers the most fully human depiction yet, is equally engaging


message 20: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Deb:And what about the woman from the restaurant who checked off radio programs? Why is she in court? What is she to the book? This was an odd, tiny character.

ALIAS wrote "
Why was she is the novel? The first thought that came to my mind was she was like the characters in The Plague (cat spitter & bean counter). She was totally caught up with the radio programing and completely ignored a living human being, M., that was sitting at the table with her...."


I wouldn't have given her much thought if she hadn't shown up every day at the trial. This is what leads me to wonder about her significance in the novel. She was in Celeste's restaurant, who is also identified with M's viewpoint, so maybe she is supposed to be yet another absurdist? I haven't been able to find her in the few list of characters i've seen. Maybe you can.

deb


message 21: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "When I come across something in a newspaper or magazine that comments on a book I own, many times I'll cut it out and stick it in the book. ..."

I do the same thing. It's interesting to look back at them years later. The one you quoted, from the priest, seems to have taken M's character & offered him the solution of prayer & Jesus. It rather leads me to believe that he didn't understand either the character or the book or both. There wasn't much (any?) despair expressed by M. It seemed to me he was more musing about his appeal but maybe i'm misinterpreting that.

The thing which intrigues me (& i believe i mentioned it in an earlier post) is that M states he's been content most of his life. This is one reason ambition hasn't been a factor in his life, nor marriage or other goal-oriented factors. He's fine. The closest he may have come to a problem was over the decision to install his mother in the home. There we learn that it was her idea & he just went along with it, as he does with everything else.

One could probably make a case that he doesn't really think deeply about anything. He spent an evening just observing happenings on his street from the window. No judgments, no comments, only the facts. He didn't even seem to wonder why people did what they did (to wit, the woman in the restaurant). I can't help but wonder when this first became part of his life. It appears his mom was similar but i don't know that one would start out that way.

deborah


message 22: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Reminder, there are SPOILERS here!

Alias Reader wrote: "The last part reminds me of a question I wanted to ask. Who is The Stranger? M? Is that the way people view him? The odd man apart... a stranger. That is what I thought...."

I wondered the same thing. Elsewhere i learned that this, too, is a matter of translation. Some translate the word (& title) as "the outsider". This feels more appropriate to what i felt the character M represented. He seemed outside events, observing but barely a part of them.

Or maybe for an English usage of "stranger" we could suggest that few are stranger than M. He killed a man but expresses no remorse. As far as i can tell, we don't even know why. It just was. Strange. Stranger yet, he doesn't mention him again, really. However, it must be noted that during his trial the man's death itself was barely missing. (Unless i'm forgetting.) No mention of the sister, his family, no reflection upon the man or his life. That seems strange, but maybe it's the way the courts ran then.

However, it didn't stop them for blaming him for the patricide in the next case! How strange was that? My point is that it's difficult for me, reading this novel decades after it was written & about a culture i do not know, to fully appreciate what is strange or not. Again, the only odd thing about the funeral, to me, that is, was when he didn't want to see her body. However, at that point i thought he was squeamish or something. No one indicated it was odd, either. (Although, as it turns out they were "taking notes", as we learned.)

deborah


message 23: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments I just realized, or did I miss it, that the man M. kills is never named. He is just referred to as "the Arab".

This makes him less than human, a non entity.


message 24: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 21, 2010 09:51AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments I found the part about the man and the dog very touching. At first I didn't like him at all. I hate animal cruelty. Than when the dog left him, and he was so hurt and in distress over the loss, I felt moved. Especially his concern that no one would want the dog because of its appearance and maybe the authorities would put the dog to sleep.

I'm not sure how this fits into Camus philosophy. Maybe it was used to show the contrast between his grief at losing the dog with M.'s lack of emotion, almost indifference, at the loss of his mother.

Speaking of emotion, when M. said he didn't love Marie, she said she loved him, but than she didn't seem to care that her love wasn't reciprocated. I thought this quite odd.

Isn't there a psychiatric term for people like M. who don't show any emotion? Is that a sociopath?


message 25: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I just realized, or did I miss it, that the man M. kills is never named. He is just referred to as "the Arab".

This makes him less than human, a non entity."


No name was ever given. I kept waiting for a name, at least at the trial. Good point, re. a non entity.

deb


message 26: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I found the part about the man and the dog very touching. At first I didn't like him at all. I hate animal cruelty. Than when the dog left him, and he was so hurt and in distress over the loss,..."

My final conclusion about the man & his dog was what you wrote, Alias. It was a contrast to M & the loss of his mother. However, i also felt we were asked to wonder how good it was for the dog, to be with someone who was mean to it. Also, there is a sort of underlying idea (imo) that sometimes love is shown at the wrong time, when it's too late. What good did it do the dog now, for the man to express his concern? Where was it when he was abusing the dog?

I don't know if this was what Camus intended but these other ideas crossed my mind. Ultimately i felt the way you did, that it was a contrast for the reader to view.

Alias Reader wrote: "Speaking of emotion, when M. said he didn't love Marie, she said she loved him, but than she didn't seem to care that her love wasn't reciprocated. I thought this quite odd."

Again, i don't know what Camus wanted us to see in this but my views were that there is a sort of eagerness to attach to someone for some people & Marie's choice illustrated that. Frankly, i appreciated his honesty. He must have realized that it could go either way. (It would have been more interesting had she decided to leave him, just to see what this sort of character would have done.)

I knew of a marriage similar to this, wherein the woman wanted a family, so married a man she loved but who honestly told her he didn't love her. She felt her love would be enough. It was, as long as she accepted his occasional trysts. She didn't like it (her sadness was the way i found out about their arrangement) but loved her family. In fact, as far as she knows he hasn't strayed in over 15 years. And she's very happy with all their 5 children!

Alias Reader wrote: "Isn't there a psychiatric term for people like M. who don't show any emotion? Is that a sociopath?"

Probably, but i don't know enough about it. (I think there is a psychiatric term for all personalities.) There's some sort of disassociative disorder which might qualify. Ancient Greeks had Stoics, who (if i recall correctly) felt that everything was in the hands of the gods, so why express emotions? Or something like that.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism

However, i'm not sure M. falls under this category, although the murder would be a persuasive factor. Had he not killed a man, i wonder if i'd be as bothered by his behavior? I don't think so, although i wouldn't want to be his pal!

deborah


message 27: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments deborah: Had he not killed a man, i wonder if i'd be as bothered by his behavior? I don't think so, although i wouldn't want to be his pal!
-----------------

I agree. I don't really get what Camus wanted us to understand. I get that life is absurd (the trial was a complete farce). It doesn't matter one way or another what happens. There is no life after death. But does that mean one would should have no regard for life? Does that mean life without love or really any enthusiasm for life is a well lived life? Does it matter if one has lived life well? It almost is a nihilist attitude which I don't think is the idea Camus generally is know for.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism
Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life[1:] is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert that morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism can also take epistemological, metaphysical, or ontological forms, meaning respectively that in some aspect knowledge is not possible or that contrary to our belief, some aspect of reality does not exist as such.


message 28: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "But does that mean one would should have no regard for life? Does that mean life without love or really any enthusiasm for life is a well lived life? Does it matter if one has lived life well? It almost is a nihilist attitude which I don't think is the idea Camus generally is know for. ..."

I keep coming back to the lack of judgment in M's life. He takes it all as it comes. Offer me a cigarette, i'll take it, if inclined. The same is true with the gun. Oh, there it is.

While he didn't seem to care for the dog, he was aware that the situation was bad for the animal, i believe. Or maybe that, too, was just part of the observation process.

I do not think he didn't love his mother, only that he didn't express it. Perhaps i'm wrong about that but he never states he didn't, the way he did Marie. Now that i'm thinking about it, maybe it is a matter of degrees. Clearly he finds things pleasurable--swimming and smoking, for example--but he doesn't enthuse about them. He likes Marie but love? He doesn't think so.

Your question, "Does it matter if one has lived life well?" is a puzzler from his viewpoint. Up until the killing he seemed to be living well, just not the way i live. Maybe it's like eating a meal--do we do it to enjoy the taste or because we need to feed our bodies? Does one have to like the food? It's not a strong comparison, but in some ways it allows us to ask what does one want from life? What is living well?

For me it would be difficult to maintain this stance throughout a lifetime. But that's me. I know i wouldn't want to be married to someone like that but i could see being that way, which is ironic, i suppose.

Your question about nihilism & how similar it is to absurdism is a good one. Any subtleties are lost on me. But, you know me & philosophy!

deborah


message 29: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 22, 2010 09:02AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments madrano wrote: Your question about nihilism & how similar it is to absurdism is a good one. Any subtleties are lost on me. But, you know me & philosophy!."
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What I find odd, and maybe I misread his works in college, is that I thought Camus philosophy was you need to give life meaning. Life in itself, may seem absurd, confusing or meaningless. However, you need to fight that. And find something that gives it meaning for you. It's the small things that really matter. The day to day way in which we approach life. At least that is what I took away from reading

The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus

Even though his task may seem pointless, rolling a rock up a hill, only to have it fall before it succeeds, seemed to say it is the journey, the act of doing that is important. This notion seemed to fit better, or at least be clearer to me, when we read The Plague

From Wiki -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth...

The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. It comprises about 120 pages and was published originally in 1942 in French as Le Mythe de Sisyphe; the English translation by Justin O'Brien followed in 1955.

In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man's futile search for meaning, unity and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers: "No. It requires revolt." He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man's life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, "The struggle itself...is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."


message 30: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "
What I find odd, and maybe I misread his works in college, is that I thought Camus philosophy was you need to give life meaning. Life in itself, may seem absurd, confusing or meaningless. ..."

AND LATER Alias quoted camus: "The essay concludes, "The struggle itself...is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."


I didn't exactly see this in The Stranger, however, i suspect a case could be made for it at the end. Although i'm not sure i'd call him "happy", instead he seemed once more content. He'd been to the edge of trying to see the world differently, confronted by his own execution, but turned away. This, in turn, altered his attitude.

The idea the we give meaning to life probably would go hand-in-hand with the absurdist outlook. Earlier i wondered what would change if M found a fascination with some hobby or play or person. Would he have to hang up the tag "absurd"? I'm not sure but i decided that one could become absorbed with a topic (daring not to call it "love"!) but still maintain the idea that life itself was futile. I mean, let's say you began to love painting, does this give your meaning life or does it keep you busy? One's outlook might be the interpretation of feelings aroused by the action.

This is just a guess.

deb


message 31: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 23, 2010 08:35AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments deb--let's say you began to love painting, does this give your meaning life or does it keep you busy? One's outlook might be the interpretation of feelings aroused by the action.
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Interesting ideas. I think there is value when one loves what they do. One can love doing something, not only love another human. (or in the Stranger a dog.)

Many people say they have a "passion" for something. music, cooking, reading, posting on GR with friends...whatever. Some may not have a "passion" but really enjoy doing a few things. That's ok in my book, too.

As you posit, are we just passing time?.... It's all we've have, so why not make the most of it. Not to, now that's absurd. :)


message 32: by madrano (last edited Apr 23, 2010 02:07PM) (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "As you posit, are we just passing time?.... It's all we've have, so why not make the most of it. Not to, now that's absurd. :) ..."

Alias, i wonder if you haven't struck at a big part of this philosophy. All we have for sure is time. The past is complete & the future may not be ours. So, what we do with the time is valued. No judging, no emotions, just filling it with contented pleasures. I don't know about that.

When i think about this for myself, it is those pleasures which give meaning to my life & define my days. As i partake of things, however, i often think about those i care about & whether (or what) they would find it amusing, like it or be bored stiff. But they are in my mind. I'm not sure this passes through M's mind. If it does, it seems to me there is an emotional attachment, even if he doesn't call it love. Maybe he only knows about love from what he's read, so doesn't know what it is like and, therefore, denies it with Marie?

Just pondering here. :-)

I'm glad we read the book together. Exploring these ideas with someone else has been instructive in evaluating my own thoughts about absurdism & life's pleasures. I believe we could go through life with worse impressions than contentment, such as anger, sadness or pain. Put in that perspective, i better appreciate M's thoughts on life.

deb


message 33: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Sorry, reading your post quoting me I wrote
"We've have." I need to proof read better. I know my grammar is bad, but it's not that bad. :)


message 34: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments madrano wrote: I'm glad we read the book together. Exploring these ideas with someone else has been instructive in evaluating my own thoughts about absurdism & life's pleasures.."
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Right back at you my friend. :)


message 35: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Sorry, reading your post quoting me I wrote
"We've have." I need to proof read better. I know my grammar is bad, but it's not that bad. :)"


Isn't it funny that i didn't even notice? Sometimes i think we are our own worse critics...or maybe it's just me. If i see the intent, i don't notice those little details. I had to scroll up to even see what you meant. LOL!

deb


message 36: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 07, 2015 03:54PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments Happy birthday, Albert Camus! His timeless wisdom on happiness, unhappiness, and our self-imposed prisons.

“Those who prefer their principles over their happiness, they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.”

https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/11...

Albert Camus


“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”

Wise words from Albert Camus, who was born on this day in 1913.


message 37: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1219 comments Ha! I like that quote about fiction.


message 38: by Madrano (last edited Nov 08, 2015 03:49PM) (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments It is a good one. I'm glad you mentioned it, Julie.


message 39: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 19531 comments THE STRANGER by Albert Camus was first published in English by Alfred A. Knopf 70 years ago on this day in 1946.

"Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living."
--from THE STRANGER..
Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd."


message 40: by madrano (new)

madrano | 12350 comments Happy anniversary to that book!


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