Albert Camus – The Outsider

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Most monumental books (for me) have been incidental. I usually have picked them on a lark or borrowed them because I liked some thing in them. And as I read the book it opened up a whole new world for me and made me greedy for more. 

Albert Camus’ The Outsider made me feel that way. A conversation, after a couple of beers, had someone telling me how this was once his anthem. That fellow is interesting and I had to explore what his anthem must have been.

Its book (though cloaked with existentialism) is true even today. I come across numerous instances in my life here where things are said and done because they should be and going against the grain will only draw criticism. I have felt it more in Delhi than in Mumbai but that could also be because here I am, perhaps, more clued in to my surroundings. 

The story is simple and was summed by the author himself. “In our society any man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral is liable to be condemned to death.” Read it because the book brings back things to that can be your personal memories. 

And reading about the author I realised why he can be a hero for many – he had radical beliefs, he fought every step of the way and died relatively early – a fitting end one might say.

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2 responses »

  1. Camus is one of my favorite writers. I started by reading The Stranger (more common title than Outsider). I was recommended the following order: The Plague, The Fall (a difficult read, IMHO), and The First Man. All fantastic books. The Plague is probably my personal favorite among Camus’ books, but The First Man really made an impression on me in understanding him as a person. His collection of short stories “Exile and the Kingdom” is very nice too. A couple of years ago, I tried to read a collection of his philosophical essays, but I found it very difficult to read, and did not finish it. As far as a personal anthem goes, Camus essay titled Neither victims nor Executioners is as close to it as I got. Enjoy!

  2. Hey Anup.. there is an echo for every voice eh? Though a relatively quick read, I am not so sure when exactly will I pick up another Camus. He moved me to a point of making me more than a little uncomfortable. I guess, will wait till I can go back on familiar turf again. Thanks for the list and the essay though.

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