More existential horror this week from Albert Camus… well, okay, absurdist horror. We’re all about the absurd, ridiculous, and sublime here at Professional Moron, and Nobel Prize winning author Camus sure knew how to craft a crafty tale about the cof being.
Thusly, we’ve already covered The Plague and The Myth of Sisyphus because, being learned sorts, we simply had to pursue the Frenchman’s (who doubled up as a goalkeeper when not being a philosopher) considerations on life and loss. This is what The Outsider (sometimes known as The Stranger) is primarily all about. Don’t you know?
What’s all this heretic stuff about?! Published in 1942 in the middle of World War II, it follows the life of cwhose mother dies at the beginning of the novella. Thrown into an apathetic quandary of indifference, he’s then caught up in an equally indifferent murder at a beach in Algiers which lands him in prison.
Condemned to death (“for not playing the game”, as Camus put it), the closing section of the tale focuses on the convicted man on death row being drawn towards religion by a reverend. Spoiler alert: he refuses to back down and heads off (*ahem*) to meet his fate at the metallic blade of a guillotine.
It’s one short novella but it left one indelible impression on the literary and philosophical world. To this day it’s essential reading as it’s themes of alienation and subversive behaviour are still important; in 2016 if you’re not a Selfie taking gym addict who’s ripped and sporting skinny jeans and a Hipster beard, what are you? A societal reject, fool!
If you’re interested in casting yourself away from polite society, this is the novella for you. It’ll teach you how to be an illegal alien on the planet you live on, which is pretty cool whilst being creepy simultaneously. It’s also, away from the philosophical leanings, simply a striking little novel which will make you think.
Indeed, the closing ten pages or so where Meursault stoically discusses his impending death with a priest is one remarkable bit of writing. In many ways, this section is reminiscent of Sartre’s The Wall, but with a restrained and more philosophical consideration.
It’s certainly a novella which doesn’t hold back. It has two central parts which will make you question your existence and the structure of society – such is the power of considering things from an absurd perspective. We highly recommend you get this one read. It’ll only take you a few hours, so hop to it!