by Alfred Camus
translated by Matthew Ward
I continue to find that I still identify very closely with the existentialists and absurdists, and that my fascination in high school was not just a phase. I identify very much with Meursault, the protagonist of this story; although I certainly can’t see myself allowing evil to become so contagious so quickly, I can see how the world sort of takes us up in its series of events, and things simply happen without us intending them to. The way in which his girlfriend, Marie, for example, asked him to marry her, and his indifference to the idea either way, struck me as startlingly familiar. The book says so much in what it doesn’t say: the terse, laconic style speaking pages about Mersault’s state of mind, how he takes everything at face value and sees no need to dissimulate about the world, or make false pretenses. The theme of man’s helplessness in the face of the world’s absurdity comes through in a much more stark fashion, perhaps more so than in “The Trial,” because of Mersault’s failure to panic and his dismissal of hope. Quite a profound and moving book in its few pages.