Book Review – The Stranger

Posted: September 27, 2014 in Movie Reviews
Tags: , ,

I never thought I would give a review being overwhelmed by the book. I thought I’d write something about the book and how I didn’t understand the greatness but the whole perspective changed in part two of the book. And the last chapter of the book is proof enough to show its greatness. That one chapter deserves all the praise this book has got.

the stranger

My friend asked me to read the book in one sitting as it was only 120 pages. It would have taken 4 hours even if the book had been heavy. I too thought the same but because of some other commitment and eagerness I started reading the book during my bus travel itself and completed half of it by Friday. Good thing is in parts where my concentration lapsed I read, reread so that I didn’t miss out on anything. That’s the good thing with small books. You can afford to do that.

There is one brilliant passage in the first half of the book.

“Marie came that evening and asked me if I’d marry her. I said I didn’t mind; if she was keen on it, we’d get married.

Then she asked me again if I loved her. I replied, much as before, that her question meant nothing or next to nothing—but I supposed I didn’t.

“If that’s how you feel,” she said, “why marry me?”

I explained that it had no importancereally, but, if it would give her pleasure, we could get married right away. I pointed out that, anyhow, the suggestion came from her; as for me, I’d merely said, “Yes.”

Then she remarked that marriage was a serious matter.

To which I answered: “No.”

She kept silent after that, staring at me in a curious way. Then she asked: “Suppose another girl had asked you to marry her—I mean, a girl you liked in the same way as you like me—would you have said ‘Yes’ to her, too?”

“Naturally.”

Then she said she wondered if she really loved me or not. I, of course, couldn’t enlighten her as to that. And, after another silence, she murmured something about my being “a queer fellow.” “And I daresay that’s why I love you,” she added. “But maybe that’s why one day I’ll come to hate you.”

To which I had nothing to say, so I said nothing.

She thought for a bit, then started smiling and, taking my arm, repeated that she was in earnest; she really wanted to marry me.

“All right,” I answered. “We’ll get married whenever you like.” I then mentioned the proposal made by my employer, and Marie said she’d love to go to Paris.”

I loved that sense of detachment in the character. The way he describes what the lady does and doesn’t describe how it made him feel. The first of the book is more matter of fact. What he thinks. This might have come as a shocker for more emotional people and people who want to give ‘values’ to fellow beings but the whole point of book is the first part of the story. ‘In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.’ This was what Albert Camus has to say about the book. Sadly I read about this beforehand. But I don’t know how much of it comes as a negative point because I was able to relate to the book more easily because of this one sentence.

It’s not that you come across a person like Albert Camus very often. But he resembles the characters of all the classics. They are a template. Be it The Trial, Crime and Punishment etc. This book wasn’t as heavy as the former ones but the impact sure has stunning. Of all the classics it reminded me more of the book Trial. Quite obviously as it had a numerous number of court scenes in the second half of the book.

Only during the course of the book we too tend to realize what Meursault goes through. The seriousness doesn’t strike him until he is condemned to death. It is the same way with us. Till the verdict even we take it lightly. Only when the verdict is pasted and he talks to the Pasteur during the climax we get to know what he really has gone through.

There has been wide spread acclaim of the translation. I can’t comment as I hadn’t read the original but I guess the translator Matthew Ward has to be credited to have kept the feel the author had intended throughout. The way the character is restless in the first half and how he gets to be depressed towards the end. If it hadn’t been a proper translation the essence would have been lost.

Good that I completed the second half in a stretch. It was heavier and I’m not sure whether I’d have been able to concentrate I had broken into parts. In all it made my weekend.

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