Book: The Outsider

The Outsider


Can I just admit that I have a hard time appreciating and understanding “modern classics”. They befuddle me. They seem to have this philosophical theme that takes a lot of work to really understand. I just don’t seem to have the capacity for that. Does this make me a bad “critic” of modern classics. Probably. Which is why I’ve tend to shun them for a good number of years. Yet, recently I’ve found one my favourite authors in Italo Calvino, and been introduced to the world of modern classics and what they have to offer. I will say that it is hit and miss with me. Some I have learnt to read and enjoy, some have turned my world view upside down. Some, have just left me wondering what the story was all about.

The outsider is unfortunately in that last category. The story is really easy to follow and really straightforward. Language is succinct and to the point. It was concise, it was easy to understand, but for the life of me, I do not see what this novel is really about. Sure the whole lack of emotions bordering on indifference comes across really strongly in the book, I get that part. I just don’t understand why that matters. I’m unsure if it’s a generational thing or perhaps I’m just not reading it right.

It did not ‘mark my life indelibly’ and I did not think it was a ‘compelling dreamlike fable.’

There was however, one scene that left quite an impression, it was during the prison visit where

The only oasis of silence was just next to me where the young man and the little old lady were gazing at each other.

It was a powerful image for me. Other than that, I really appreciated the Afterword written by Albert Camus himself. It brought a much better understanding of the book to light and managed to enlighten me about the ‘theme’ of the book and how the protagonist Meursault is considered an outsider. Still, I don’t see what the big fuss is about and if anyone is willing to expound the virtues of this book, I am more than happy to try to gain a better insight into this book.


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