The guy who forgot his mother’s age
I was once an avid book reader. It has been several years now and I have been trying to bring that habit back for a variety of reasons for some time now. After reading Alchemist recently which took me a month, I read The Stranger by Albert Camus which I was able to complete in less than a week.
“The Stranger” is originally a French novel named “L’Étranger” written by Albert Camus who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957. “The Stranger” is the English translation of the novel by Mathew Ward. “The Stranger” follows the story of Monsieur Mersault who travels home for his mother’s death and what happens in his life after forms the crux of the story and it is presented in first person narrative.
The book came in a Facebook group suggestion that mentioned this novel as a must-read for those who are into philosophy. This particular aspect caught my attention which led me to read this book. To be honest, I was puzzled through the initial stages of the book which doesn't seem to offer anything on the philosophy. The story-wise as well, the novel didn't have anything dramatic but weird so I was intrigued by the life of Mersault which kept me hooked to it.
Mersault was an interesting character to study. A simple withdrawn man who never cared about anything and moved on with his life without much fuss he could spend an entire evening looking at cars or the first thought at his mother's funeral was a need for coffee. Ordinarily, if I come across this person in real life, I doubt if I would give a second look at this guy. But to be in the headspace of the person and to travel with him was an interesting journey. His acts are plainly simple from his point of view which feels absolutely alright but from a third-person view, they seem insincere.
Albeit interesting protagonist, the story felt objectiveless but it gained steam when our narrator does something unexpected at the halfway mark. I then became more intrigued to know the fate of the narrator afterwards. While I was more intrigued to know about the fate of the narrator, the author concentrated on the inner tussle that he was having. The way he perceived things was very far from normal. I was taken by surprise when the narrator became accustomed to the extreme conditions he was put in. The surprising behaviour made sense when I realised that the narrator believes in the concept called Absurdism. Absurdism is the belief that the human life that we live in is meaningless and chaotic.
The minute details that the author went into while explaining the narrator’s atmosphere at every point added weight to the proceedings and sucked us into his world. The effect of the sun and sunlight on the narrator’s act had continued influence, unfortunately, I failed to understand the metaphor(if there was one). There are several characters in the story but the most that got my attention was that of 'Marie, the narrator’s friend and fiancee' who continued to shower care and love for the narrator even when he was so callous towards her and the character of the prosecutor who seemed hell-bent to behead the narrator.
The author doesn’t conclude about what exactly happened to the narrator at the end which was poetic to the theme. However, the monologue he feels at the end makes the journey of travelling worthwhile. It was a burst of all the emotions that he has had till then and why he acted the way which in a way justified his actions.
Overall, I liked the book for its narration style and the theme it dealt which sustained my attention even without much drama. Give it a go if you are into philosophical-themed novels.