Author: Albert Camus
Translated by Sandra Smith
Publisher: Penguin Modern Classics
Published in 2013 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published in 1942)
The Outsider is as straightforward as it could get. It is the story of a man named Muersault, whose will to act is as simple as being guided by one’s first instinct, however departed it may be from the conventions, and of which he willfully takes the responsibility in all its bareness. He does not cry or act sullen at his mother’s funeral, he allows himself to happily start dating a girl a day after the funeral, he befriends a hooligan, he kills a man upon being agitated by the heat and glare of the sun, all because he doesn’t find a reason not to do so, all because that is what he feels like doing then from the objectivity of his mind, and all along, he does not justify himself. His not-so-normal ways and reasons, not in-line with conventions, meet a gloomy fate at the hand of judgmental men of the world, who, rightly so, do not look beyond the conspicuous facts or reasons that his actions announce.
Albert Camus, has aptly personified the philosophy of existentialism in the bareness of the inner instincts that the protagonist identifies with, acts upon and takes responsibility of, though it is incomprehensible and reproachful to many people living with their tender indifferences, which, ironically, the protagonist, in his objectivity, wistfully opens up to or becomes compassionate with. Camus’ candid writing leaves a great impact; the complete clarity-of-thought of his characters prods the readers into deep musing and also, at best, introspection.
To me this books was a revelation to a school of thought that is not just pure and objective, but encompasses a deep understanding that every man is completely responsible (of entire mankind) for their decisions, their will—unveiled, unjustified, unapologetic—purely manifested through their actions; that, action does speak louder, and only we make what we are.
A must read for people looking for a good piece of literature—well-written and deeply conceived. If one is new to the theory of existentialism, then, this might be as revolting, thought-provoking and revolutionary, all at the same time, for you as it was for me.