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L'étranger by Albert Camus

L'étranger by Albert Camus

L’étranger by Albert Camus

L’étranger is to French students what To Kill a Mockingbird is to Anglophone students. A book everyone has underlined, scribbled notes in the margins, and stuffed haphazardly into a packed schoolbag. If only I had found it as beautiful as To Kill a Mockingbird.

The story tells the tale of a young man - Mersault - who’s mother has just died. From his perspective we plod along through his daily life and observe the people he interacts with - all fascinating characters compared to Mersault. He doesn’t have empathy for anyone. He watches an old man in slippers struggling to keep up with the hearse. He doesn’t help, just watches him and gets irritated with the heat. As the reader, I wanted to reach out and console the old man. This scene will stay in my memory for a long time.

The language used is easy to understand. I learnt a lot of new French words and I’m grateful for that.

The descriptions are good. The important scene on the beach, I was there. I felt the same unforgiving heat, the irritation built up inside me, the frustration, confusion mounted. All feelings that he felt, I felt too. The difference being that I was dumbfounded while he seemed to think it was inevitable.

I found him and his perspective mind numbing and it took nearly two months to read less than 200 pages. It is a book that has to be read but don’t expect that you will enjoy it.

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