The Outsider (Twentieth Century Classics S.)

by Albert Camus | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0140180184 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Fellraven of Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on 9/30/2006
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Saturday, September 30, 2006
One of a batch of cheap classics bought on Ebay.

I originally read this in French as one of my French 'A' Level set texts.

Journal Entry 2 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Sunday, April 13, 2008
I originally read this novel exactly 30 years ago, in French, when it was one of the set texts for my French 'A' Level (the others being Molière's Le Bougeois Gentilhomme, Alain-Fournier's Le Grande Meaulnes and Jean Anouilh's Becket) and would have had neither reason nor opportunity to re-read it, this time in English, had it not turned up in one of the boxes of cheap classics from Ebay.

In re-reading it, this time in English, it's interesting to see what had stayed in my mind over the decades and what I had forgotten. What had remained most vividly was, perhaps not surprisingly, the killing itself and in particular the heat and blinding sunlight of that day and the effect they had on Meurseult. I had forgotten the circumstance that took him to the beach that day, though I had vaguely remembered his neighbour Raymond but not Raymond's connection to what happened.

Virtually all else - the events surrounding the funeral of his mother, his relationship with Marie, the details of the trial and the details of his life before his involvement with Raymond - had been forgotten over the years. In short, I remembered not a lot considering that I must have read the novel at least several times for my studies.

Meurseult is, to some extent, a sacrifice, a scapegoat. When I was doing my French 'A' Level the tutor said that it in practice it would have been unthinkable for a white French citizen (which Meurseult is assumed to be) to be executed for the killing of an Arab and that in such a case the French accused would have been acquitted on some technicality or, at worst, sentenced to a few year in prison. So Meurseult's death sentence is, on this level, at least about much more than the murder, but we know that already because that is what the novel is ultimately about.

He is obviously poorly served by the circumstances of his trial: the hostility of the Prosecutor and his prosecution of the case on the basis of completely irrelevant matters, ie his behaviour at his mother's vigil and funeral; the fact that the newpapers, needing something to fill their pages in the news-quiet summer season, have built Meurseult's case and pending trial into a major story; and the question over the competence of his defence counsel who seems to misjudge the situation entirely.

Nevertheless, Meurseult is his own worst enemy in that he is almost entirely passive. Offered a chance of promotion and a move to Paris, he refuses on the grounds that he sees no reason to make changes in his life. He agrees to marry Marie because she suggests it and he's not bothered either way but he will do it if she wants to. He allows himself to drift into a sort of friendship with Raymond and to be used for Raymond's advantage. In short, Meurseult is a man to whom life and other things happen and who is, to an extent, an observer of his own life rather than an active participant in it. He essentially drifts into a disaster which one senses would not have happened had he taken some positive decisions earlier on.

What strikes me is that at the end of the novel, after Meurseult has thrown the priest out of his cell and refused the "consolations of religion" claiming to be an unbeliever, he anticipates his execution and hopes that he will be greeted by a crowd filled with hate. Is this a reference to Jesus carrying his cross on the way to Golgotha through jeering crowds? Is Meurseult, who ostensibly rejects God, being set up as a sort of Christ figure the way that Elzevir Block seems to be in Falkner's Moonfleet, or is he merely a scapegoat for a society which cannot come to terms with that which is different?

Journal Entry 3 by Fellraven at Chester Zoo in Chester, Cheshire United Kingdom on Sunday, April 13, 2008

Released 13 yrs ago (4/13/2008 UTC) at Chester Zoo in Chester, Cheshire United Kingdom



Left on a bench in the Tropical House (reptiles and birds).

Journal Entry 4 by montymolly on Monday, June 16, 2008
I found the book at Cheater Zoo i had never heard of book crossing i tried really hard to read the book but it just wasnt my kind of book i think i got to page 78 and finally gave up. I took it to the accoustic festival of Great Britain and there it moved on i will look out for another book now i know what book crossing is hope i find a better read next time


Journal Entry 5 by wingAnonymousFinderwing on Friday, June 20, 2008
The blurb on the back cover is far more exciting than the text inside


Journal Entry 6 by tribalshimmy on Friday, July 11, 2008
Caught in Tamworth - passed to me by a friend


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