01 April 2009

22. The Stranger

The Stranger by Albert Camus (translated by Matthew Ward)

I found this book on the shelf at a thrift store. I read the description and thought it might be interesting. I thought it was some obscure thing that nobody had ever heard of. I was wrong. After I read it I did the normal search of the Internet to see what was out there and found that this book and author are famous. I wonder why I have never heard of it before?
I read the Translator's Note at the front of the book and found it to be interesting. He said this book was written in French, but the author tried to write it in an American style. Then it was translated into English, but by a British translator. That translation did not use the American style that the author originally used. So, Matthew Ward translated it again into English, but did it very literally. He held true to the way the author meant it to be written.
He gives a few examples of the differences, and they are quite different. What he explains is that the other translator wrote about what the author meant and he decided to write what the author actually wrote.
Then I read the book. It was very different from anything I have read previously. The beginning of the book was all short and curt sentences. Straight and to the point. Later in the book the author uses more description. The style was perfect for the story.
The story itself was actually very sad. I felt really bad for the protagonist. It seemed like the man had no real reason for even existing other than just for the sake of existing. There was no joy. There was no sorrow. It was like whatever happened just happened and really didn't mean anything one way or the other. His mother died. Oh well. A beautiful girl asks him to marry her. Ah, why not. Do you love me? I don't think so, but that's OK. Everything seemed to bore him or make him feel like he was being burdened in some way. Life just is and that is all.
Needless to say, when you live that way others can see you as strange or different. That cost this man dearly.
I don't really want to write about the story itself because I think you should read it. It is pretty quick. Only 120 something pages. It is worth checking out.
Then when I read stuff on the Internet I learned that it was called "absurdist" and "existentialist". I learned a few things after reading this book, so it was well worth the twenty five cents I shelled out for my copy.
Read it if you haven't. It was pretty cool.

1 comment:

  1. Good one. It's a classic. But there are so many great books at this point it's impossible to cross paths with all of them. It's good to see that The Stranger is worth the trouble.