Existentialist angst with Albert Camus


Following the centenary of Albert Camus’ birth in November, I thought it was only polite to salute The Outsider (L’Etranger) in my latest article for MyFrenchLife. It’s a great book – a slip of a thing really, so not too intimidating to pick up, and the story unravels in seemingly simple, limpid prose. But get further in, and it all becomes oh-so-meaty and discomforting. I hear it’s a rites-of-passage book for angsty teens. Good choice.

Camus’ book has the dubious honour of being the first French novel I ever managed to read in full (for French A Level). It also nearly drove me to despair: about a week before the exam I realised I still didn’t really have a handle on the book and had no clue what to write about. Then an angel named Mrs Lesley Luckhurst came along and suddenly unlocked the text for me, patiently introducing and explaining Camus’ philosophical ideas, his concept of the Absurd and how the book reflects that. It blew my little mind away – we hadn’t done any philosophy at school. I squinted to see things differently. Meursault [the protagonist] is a Christ-like figure? Huh? Understanding dawned slowly, but luckily the muse descended in time for the exam. Thanks, Mrs. L, if you’re reading this – I’d be up for continuing our chats any time.



3 thoughts on “Existentialist angst with Albert Camus

  1. Pingback: #DailyBookQuote 20Dec13 : Albert Camus’ The Fall | Whatever It's Worth...

  2. Mais Meursault, il n’est pas autiste! Perhaps I should re-read it and ask you to explain some of these philosophical subtexts one day… I clearly never “got” it since I failed the exam haha. But it would be good to finally understand what it was all meant to be about! x

    • Coucou Cat! Thank you for discovering my blog 🙂 Well I failed the exam the first time round too, didn’t I?…(forgot to mention that in the above. We all had to do resists, didn’t we??). We never did much of the philosophical side of it at school and I can’t claim to totally ‘get’ it (can you ever claim that about a book?) but I’ll dig out the old notes and we can have a caffeine-fuelled philosophical debate, haha. Also the Guardian was running some good articles on it.

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