And now for the opposite to yesterday – a book that makes me sad (nawww – hey wait, I said nawww to a book that makes me happy yesterday! Versatile, that nawww is. Anyway…). Again, this was quite difficult to pick, and hard not to choose books that I have already decided for later ‘days’ in this challenge.
Consequently, after much deliberation, I have decided that The Outsider (aka The Stranger) by Albert Camus is a book that makes me sad. This is a bizarre book that dabbles in existentialism and absurdism, based entirely around the character Meursault, who irrationally kills a man, this single act dividing the book up into before the crime, and after the crime. Before the crime he seems emotionally detached after the death of his mother, and remains so up until the murder itself. Then it jumps to when Meursault finds himself in prison, and on trial, where his emotional detachment is brought up and seen as a lack of remorse, something he himself eventually admits to the reader. I’ll end the description of the story there so as not to spoil it for any potential readers, but needless to say, it’s bizarre to read a story told from a protagonist who seems so stoic, so apathetic.
I think it is the character himself which makes me sad with this story. Sure, on an intellectual level I love it, and think it’s fascinating, and the philosophical arguments that stem from this novel become quite deep and complicated (at least to somebody like me who doesn’t study philosophy). But to watch someone so disconnected from society, someone so accepting of their fate and the consequences of their actions that they don’t particular care about their actions, just ends up being so depressing. Because of his character traits, it is difficult to even feel sympathy for him, and when the book ends, as a reader I was left feeling empty and emotionless myself – perhaps this was the desired effect?