H o o k e d o n b o o k s REVISITING a CLASSIC The Stranger
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‘ Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.’ Pierces through you, doesn n’t it? The opening lines of Albert Cam mus’ The Stranger ( also titled The Outsid der in some translations) is searing an d evocative, even though many critic cs have argued that the real essence of thet beginning has been lost in translati ion ( the original novel was in French) ). These lines also set the tone for thet novel, which is an unapologe etic examination of the human min nd in modern times.
The prot agonist is a French Algerian boy Meursa ault, who receives the news of his mother other’s s death through a telegram right at the beginning of the novel. This incident sets in motion a chain of events but The Stranger is not as much about a story as it is about a state of being. As readers, most of us find comfort in empathising with characters and the respective moral universe they inhabit. Camus robs us of that opportunity. There is nothing redeeming about Meursault or his life. By putting an ambiguous character like this right at the heart of his narrative,narrative Camus forces us to wonder if morality can be templated. The incisiveness with which this question is addressed makes it a modern masterpiece. The Stranger was recommended to me in my early 20s by a friend who thought reading this book would help me understand his ‘ misanthropy’. At that time, I enjoyed it as a novel. Today, I cherish it as a life lesson.
— Anamika Chatterjee