The Stranger by Albert Camus, translated by Matthew Ward

This is the third or fourth time I started reading The Stranger and the first time I finished it. I’m glad I made it through Part 1 because Part 2 is actually interesting.

In his introduction, the translator says Camus adopted an “American” style in Part 1: “the short, precise sentences; the depiction of a character ostensibly without consciousness; and, in places, the ‘tough guy’ tone”. In Part 2, however, “Camus gives freer rein to a lyricism which is his alone”. 

I found most of Part 1 to be oppressive. Meursault, the “stranger”, narrates the story as if he’s an alien or a robot. He hardly reacts to anything except the heat and the sunshine. In Part 2, he expresses some emotions in addition to annoyance and becomes almost sympathetic, even though I was never convinced by his repeated claims that life is absurd and nothing matters.

There are absurdities in life, but death doesn’t make life absurd. It only makes it finite. And some things do matter if only because they matter to us.