The stranger by Albert Camus
Published: Published March 28th 1989 by Vintage International (first published 1942)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, Philosophy
“And it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.”
(Most possibly the most beautiful, brilliant and exciting page and end sentence I have ever read!)
I walked into this one with no expectations and no knowledge of what the book is about. Isn’t that the best way to start any experience? Just allow it to show you it’s soul as you go along without your mind trying to jump ahead because you know what’s coming. I wasn’t waiting for anything to happen, or any particular outcome.
Unlike when you pick up a thriller you anticipate the crime, then you go along for the hunt. This was just a sunday walk in the park with a stranger telling his story. And what a beautiful and heartbreaking one it was.
The Stranger is about an ordinary man, but what does it even mean to be ordinary when you’re faced with extraordinary circumstances?
What is the “normal” way to handle greif?
What is the “normal” way to handle love?
What is the “normal” way to handle injustice?
“I hadn’t understood how days could be both long and short at the same time: long to live through, maybe, but so drawn out that they ended up flowing into one another. They lost their names. Only the words “yesterday” and “tomorrow” still had any meaning for me.”
It is written with simple sentences, easy to read and easy to understand. Just as our main character, and yet it is the deepest, most difficult book I have ever read, just as the topics it touches. I have never encountered a piece of writing as human as this.
Certain passages and sentences felt different to the rest of the book, almost like I could feel it’s pulse rising and slowing and it’s state of mind being in a different place. Like it’s pleading insanity in the moment of the deed.
“When I was first imprisoned, the hardest things was that my thoughts were still those of a free man. For example, I would suddenly have the urge to be on a beach and to walk down to the water. As I imagined the sound of the first waves under my feet, my body entering the water and the sense of relief it would give me, all of a sudden I would feel just how closed in I was by the walls of my cell. But that only lasted a few months. Afterwards my only thoughts were that of a prisoner.”
I can compare this passage to my own thoughts about this book, since before it I was a free man, now all I can do is think about it and all it’s meanings. Because I know which side of the fence I sit on, but then again, don’t we all? And still at times we are deduced to statistics that lands us on the other side of that fence.
I only hope I can open myself like Meursault to the gentle indifference of the world and be happy again, with no mind on the maddening crowds.