The book is divided into two parts: before and after the murder. The first part is disarming - short, very simple and precise sentences put you right into the main character's mindset. The second part is written with a more fluid structure, but I didn't really notice the difference until after I had finished and went back into the first part to check certain points.
I couldn't quite figure out the main character - Monsieur Meursault. He is an adult, young but on his own. He thinks in simplistic phrases. Nothing interests him and he is mainly concerned only with the necessities of life (sleeping and eating primarily). At first I thought he was merely an overgrown child. Then I started to wonder if he had a mental condition - a dissociative disorder or even some level of autism as he is also severely affected by environmental conditions (noise, heat, light). In any event, it seems that he is not affected emotionally by anything, certainly not by the feelings of others.
He continually declares that emotions and sentimentality are not important and therefore he remains distant and removed from these situations. But in the second part of the book, he briefly and suddenly becomes aware that his trial seems to be taking place all around him; he has been removed from this as well and it disturbs him. He remembers himself before too long though, and falls into primarily caring only about the heat in the room.
By the end of the book we see clearly the point the Camus is trying to make: everyone dies and the world will keep on turning. So, it doesn't really matter if or who you love, if or who you kill, if you die naturally or by a guillotine. It is pretty bleak and depressing if you ask me. No matter what you believe in spiritually, I just can't imagine closing yourself off and not living life with as much verve as you can muster.
|Cover of first US Edition from Wikipedia|
If I were in charge of designing a cover for this book though, it would be a clearer picture of a man. The man would be in his 30s, and have an absolutely vacant look in his eye. No smile, no features immediately identifiable about him at all. He would be standing on the beach, wearing plain, dark, solid colored clothes and if you looked closely enough - you might see a gun in his hand. He isn't flashing it and he isn't trying to conceal it. It is just there, much as he is.
by Albert Camus. Translation by Matthew Ward.
Vintage, 1989. First published 1942
Source: Purchased Used.
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