Albert Camus’ The Outsider
This is the second novel I have read by Camus, the first was Myth of Syphisus. I enjoyed this book, though at times admittedly found it hard to engage with the main character to the lack of emotion portrayed. This is of course the aim of the story that is based upon a trial questioning the character and his intentions and make up to find if he is guilty or innocent of pre meditated murder and wok out overall if he is a good or truly evil man.
The book takes you on a very open and honest portrayal of human nature, exposing it in a time of segregation of course taking at look at the legal system through the eyes of bias based on race and colour.
The book shows a good an that is generally content with his lot in life, he is a man of small pleasures that has learnt to make do and enjoy the little that life and society affords him due to his class and race.
However this attitude leaves those use to far more splendour and those ravished in the competitive nature of capitalist society that had bred them into the super consumer and one of ever growing greed, questioning this man before them and they see his reservation and a direct transgression of social ideals and they deem him the devil.
The character himself is not one of religious means and again in this time this is viewed as direct blasphemy and they fear the man before them and his quiet rational and easy rebuke of this institution of power that forms so much the solid pillar of the world that they live within. They see the male as a direct counterpart of their beliefs, they believe him a deviant and as often at that time a direct threat to their stable way of life and so they condemn him death.
The author in this revelation of events while dealing with several controversial topics also seems to touch upon the nature and complexity of humanity and I fell he is criticising quite heavily the way society especially a capitalist one has been formed and what that means for us as individuals. He is looking also in the state of the human mind and questions the state of what it means to be sane and stable.
I feel one thing he perhaps is exploring through the eyes of his main character is the bleak state of depression and to what extent that manifests itself in the reactions and emotions we possess.
Is this the case that this man is one of rational means and so is not a mad man or a devil as they say? Or is he a depressive that is unable to get in touch with parts to himself that we consider normal and human?
I feel this is a decision any reader must make for themselves, I am yet to complete the last few pages of this book and maybe that will answer this question for me in more detail or may change how I view this book completely, but I wanted to write this review before I had done that as I feel the importance of this book is not in how it ends but the journey that you experience while you are reading and the series of questions it will provoke in you.
Though the book as I said earlier can be a difficult one to get into and in places the pacing is slow it is a good philosophical read, created far more for the messages it discusses than a novel for purely entertainment purposes. Then again that is true of most of the of work of Camus from what I can tell.