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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 30 December 2017

"The Outsider" by Albert Camus

Another novel with a stunning first line: “My mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know.” Mersault, a Frenchman living in Algeria, reacts to the death of his mother with what, to all the world, seems like a total lack of emotion. Having attended the funeral he goes back to work, meets and beds a girl, helps an old man who has lost his dog, and intervenes in a neighbour's domestic dispute with fatal consequences.

It is written in short, matter of fact sentences that feel like the stunned bewilderment of a man who confesses that physical sensations in the here and now interfere with his feelings, and who is too honest with himself to subscribe to the 'normal', socially acceptable and socially constructed, emotions of others.

But society can't tolerate someone like Mersault, someone who sees through the pageant that we like to pretend is reality.

Divided exactly into two parts by the killing, The Outsider is a perfect miniature portrait of an emptied soul.

Some wonderful lines:
  •  “But today the sun blazing down upon the shimmering landscape made it inhuman and depressing.” (p 14)
  • I felt a bit lost standing between the blue and white of the sky and the relentless darkness of these other colours: the sticky black of the blistering tar, the dull black of the morning clothes, the shiny black of the hearse.” (p 15)
  • Although actually, everyone is always a little guilty.” (p 18)
  • I thought that it was one more Sunday nearly over and done with, that Mama was now dead and buried, that I would go back to work, and that when all was said and done, nothing has really changed.” (p 22)
  • when all is said and done, no one really knows.” (p 25)
  • I replied that you can never really change your life and that, in any case, every life was more or less the same and that my life here wasn't bad at all.” (p 38)
  • Out in the street the sun was already so hot that ... it felt like a slap across the face.” (p 43)
  • All I could feel was the sun crashing like cymbals against my forehead, and the knife, a burning sword hovering above me.” (p 53)
  • I fired for more times into the lifeless body, where the bullets sank without leaving a trace. And it was as if I had rapped sharply, four times, on the fatal door of destiny.” (p 54)
  • Their muffled whispers, rising from below, created a kind of soft background music against the conversations that criss-crossed above their heads.” (p 66)
  • I didn't understand how the natural qualities of an ordinary man could be turned into overwhelming proof of his guilt.” (p 91)
  • I knew that it didn't matter much whether you died at thirty or at seventy, because in either case other men and women would of course go on living, and it would be like that for thousands of years.” (p 103)
  • He wasn't even sure he was alive because he lived life as if he was dead.” (p 109)
  • standing before this symbolic night bursting with stars, I opened myself for the first time to the tender indifference of the world.” (p 111)

I devoured this book. The aching honesty of the protagonist was devastating.

Camus also wrote The Fall

December 2017; 111 pages

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