Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review #5 - The Outsider

What I'm Reviewing: A Book (or novella, if I may)
Book Title: L'Étranger (or "The Stranger", though my copy is called "The Outsider")
Author: Albert Camus
Year of Writing: 1942
Publisher: Penguin.. or Puffin. A small bird of some sort. We'll leave it open.
A Brief Summary (via wikipedia):
(Spoiler Alert; you have been forewarned)
"The novel tells the story of an alienated, anomic French man, Meursault, who eventually kills an Arabic man in Algiers. At the trial, the prosecution calls him a remorseless killer, and he is convicted, and waits to be executed. In the prison cell he accepts his fate because it's the only real option he has; neither suicide nor faith in God are options for Meursault once he fully realizes the absurdity of the world in which he lives."

So this Camus guy seems to have some potential... possibly. Apparently he got some "Noble" prize. Who gets a prize for being noble? Get off your high-horse Albert Camus! Where's Bruce Springsteen's "Noble" prize? Oh that's right, he doesn't need one because he's the image of American standards, and not of French holier-than-thou, can't even spell "Noble" on our fancy french awards standards.

But enough about Aldous Cadbury, on to the book.

The main character, Meursault, treats all other characters as if they are purposeless tools or machines. At one point he talks about identifying with the guillotine that he eventually is sent to. This is potentially the best holiday reading I've ever had the chance to lay my eyes on. What we're looking at here is the classic Christ allegory.

The main character never knew his father-- sounds a lot like a certain savior I've heard of. Ok, so maybe Mr. Christ had a few warm moments with Big Daddy God; but always by proxy of mystical strange forces. I didn't read that much of the bible at all; I tried skimming through the sparknotes edition and even that was lengthy, so I just read a few stories on The Brick Testament:

Even then, I skipped the Jesus stories and kept with the old testament stuff. The general agreement among my bible-studies friends is that the Old Testament (or "OTeezy" as they call it) is cooler and has greater sex appeal. Frankly I don't see it. I think the lego's throwing me off. Which is weird because I'm usually super-aroused by any configuration of lego.

Back to the book. Jesus's relationship with his father kind of echoes that of the protagonist of "L'Étranger". So I don't know how Jesus really communicated with his Dad. I'm fairly sure he read the constellations and that was how he "talked" to God. Could it be that Jesus was the original astrologist? Probably. Needless to say, there was at some point some father-son contact so but they were never like... "hey we just ran an entire sack race and now let's go get some slush!" It was more like "Hey... sacrifice yourself to prove my worth". I think we can all agree that that last bit would have been a little cooler if there was slush involved somewhere.

The protagonist of L'Étranger also ends up sacrificing himself: mostly in a more figurative manner, but still with a total lack of slush. Only he doesn't do it to prove his worth; he knowingly accepts his eventual end as a testament to the meaninglessness of all life and the fleeting moments that define our existence. He sees man's actions as inconsequential and the afterlife as total nothingness AND he makes friends with pimps and kills an Arab dude. Sounds like Jesus to me. I mean, there were moments in the book, when I would say to myself out loud "whoa.. this guy sounds like he's got a beard... just like Jesus!". Naturally I alienate most of my fellow busriders.

So, as a book, it's great. Why? It's almost only a hundred pages long. Small page length = good book. Size does matter (I'm talking to you, female gender). And now I know more about Jesus than I ever did. Didn't even have to eat any sacramental bread.

I openly propose that all people who have ascribed their beliefs to the Christian faith might as well just replace their boring old bible with Albert Camus's "L'Étranger". It's smaller and it has all of the same values anyways so what's the harm done.

TOTAL STAR JUDGMENT: 3 stars for a so/so cover and lack of slush.


Jason said...

Something happened after your 3 Stars... :o, did someone copy something wrong.

Jacob said...

Weird, I don't see any discrepancy in my browser.

Mel said...

yeah there's a really weird thing after your three stars.

Jacob said...

gone now?

Mel said...

yup! good job!

Jacob said...

You know what it is? It's a firefox greasemonkey userscript that was automatically becoming embedded in the html. Woops! I'll try to keep that from happening from now on.