Patrick McCarthy's Camus: The Stranger (Landmarks of World Literature (New)) PDF

By Patrick McCarthy

For someone else who may well buy this erroneously: this is often a persons' research of Camus' paintings, no longer the paintings itself.

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Extra info for Camus: The Stranger (Landmarks of World Literature (New))

Sample text

This is sometimes but not always true of Meursault’s descriptions of people. In the closing pages of Part 1, Chapter 2, he sits on his balcony, looks down on the Sunday evening crowds and describes their appearance, gestures and movements. Of their inner life he tells us nothing, so we note merely the hair of a young girl, the red ties of the youths and the chants of soccer supporters. Of course none of these details is in fact insignificant because in The Stranger Marie’s long hair is a mark of female sexuality, the colour red is associated with aggression and male sexuality, while sport is linked with happiness.

At the opposite pole from the cry and the monologue stands an equally impossible solution to the problem of language: silence. Certain social groups are forced into silence, which is hence associated with oppression; the Arabs barely speak at all. Yet since the Arabs do not themselves oppress, their silence is a mark of authenticity. Meursault the character is frequently silent: when questioned by the magistrate, he responds that ‘the truth is I never have much to say. So I keep quiet’ (104). Here again his taciturnity throughout his trial is presented as a protest against the wordiness of the lawyers.

There are in Chapters 1 and 6 images of death that simply do not fit coherently into Meursault’s narrative. We will return to the ‘absence’ or ‘hollowness’ which lies at the centre of The Stranger, but first we must describe more fully the primary language, the language of dissidence. Camus’s contemporaries, Sartre and Barthes, were struck by the non-literary appearance of The Stranger. Sentences are short and consist frequently of one main clause. Often the links among them are made by ‘and’ and ‘but’ or by a vague temporal conjunction like ‘then’ or ‘after a while’.

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