Synopsis (Goodreads): Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.”
This was one of those books I really, really, really wanted to love because it came highly commended by a number of good friends and it’s been on my to-read shelf for ages. Did I love it? No. Did I hate it? No. I was mostly just left feeling confused.
The story centres around Mersault, an obscurely developed character and our narrator. When a story is told in the first person, a lot depends on their voice and I thought Meursault’s was a little dull to start with. As his narrative unfolded however, I found myself empathising with him more and more because of all the misunderstanding he faces simply by being someone who doesn’t process the world and events in the same way as most people. Society can be extremely annoying – we all know this!
Maybe I am a terribly literal person, which is why a lot of writing on existentialism and philosophy flies right over my head, so that may also be why I am not getting the full value and depth that I should be. I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes – what can I say? But it did get under my skin, and it raised questions around the dangers you can face if you are what is classified as not normal by society’s standards. How long can you remain true to yourself and at what ultimate cost?
In summary, the plot was simple and the characters one-dimensional, yet I think this is one I will need to come back to, maybe several times because the messages will reveal themselves gradually and in their own time.