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Always Worth Reading
on 14 May 2018
L'Etranger, the first novel by Albert Camus is always very well worth reading, but it has to be admitted that this Penguin edition, translated by Sandra Smith has to be the best English translation on the market, showing a better awareness of certain nuances between French and English. So, if you cannot read French then this is the edition to go for.
First published in 1942 this was not a big hit, in fact it did rather poorly although it was much appreciated. This was to change when Sartre wrote about it, and since then this has come on to be something that many have read throughout the world. Here then we meet Meursault who when this opens has just received a message that his mother has died. Thus he has to make arrangements quickly to get to the home she was in as the funeral is held quickly due to the heat of Algeria.
Returning back home after the funeral, so he carries on as normal, going to work, and meeting a woman he used to work with, and forming a relationship. From there he helps a friend and ends up shooting a man, although we are never really given any reason for this by Meursault, who does seem to be someone who has a certain deadness when it comes to expressing different emotions. Indeed we only ever see him get angry once in this short novel, and that is near the end.
Being prosecuted for the killing, so he is incarcerated with a death sentence hanging over him. What will happen though? As Meaursault realises, his not crying at his mother’s funeral seems to have more bearing on his crime than the actual killing itself. Camus really brings to life the absurdism of life and all the elements of his philosophy in this book, which will make you think and also laugh. After all, one of his neighbours has a dog who he always moans and complains about, but when it goes missing is devastated.
Since this was first published it has caused much debate and many papers on various aspects have been written, it has also influenced many and it has to be admitted is a joy to read. In all then if you want to read about alienation and not conforming, then this is a must have.