The Stranger by Albert Camus was published in 1942. This novel explores the pessimistic vision of life thoroughly. According to Camus, the human life and existence lacks meaning and the failure to accept this leads us to the absurdity of looking for a rational explanation where there is none.
The protagonist of the book, Meursault commits a crime and subsequently fails to conform to the social expectations about how he should behave. The readers certainly are horrified by his emotionless and detached descriptions and are stunned by his failure to cry when his mother dies. The terrifying irrationality of his actions and the total lack of order in the novel are deliberately reflected and presented by Camus as a glance from his absurdist theories about the humanity.
Absurdism proposes the idea that the human existence is a contradiction of our desperate attempts to find meaning in our lives. However, the utter fruitfulness of these attempts gives the irrational and complex nature our existence completely. The pain, the brutal and extreme simplicity, and the emotionless language of this book make it worth reading. The style perfectly reflects the simplified thought patterns of the novel’s supposedly mentally deranged protagonist.
The one thing that touched me particularly is the line about the gentle indifference of the world and it reminds you every time that how the beauty of this world, with its beaches and mountains and architecture, stares at you blankly as you experience pain or alienation in this world. It almost hurts. It makes you feel even lonelier and desperate. When you are being hurt and seeing your pain not echoed anywhere hurts more than the pain itself. It makes you feel meaningless like you barely exist in this cosmos.
Camus thinks it a part of human nature. He says that we are unimportant and barely exist. The societal expectation to assert ourselves onto the world is silly. A man can live inside a tree trunk and could be just as comfortable after a while as a man living in a palace, simply because for both the king living in the palace and the hermit living in the tree truck, it’s routine they got used to.
This book is an unsettling foray into existentialism. Go through this book if you are curious about questioning the rules of life.