Some spoilers…(if you haven’t read The Stranger)
I guess I’ve never really read any nihilist or absurdist literature.
So I wasn’t prepared for the utter mope-fest that is Albert Camus’s The Stranger.
Looking back on it, I get playing with the idea of life being absurd, or meaningless. And on reflection, it reminds me a bit of Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes.
But I really hated it. I probably would have loved it when I was 16. Would have totally bought hook-line-and-sinker the idea that life has nothing to offer and is completely meaningless. And I have my moments now, though they are few and far between. But ultimately, I ascribe some meaning to life. Mainly in relationships. With God. In community. I’m not drawn to the idea that everything is pointless.
I got to the point where the main characters states:
I have never been able to truly feel remorse for anything.
“So,” I thought, “this is the memoir of a sociopath? ”
I don’t recommend it unless you have an interest in absurdist literature.
One thing I did find interesting in my research, though, was that one English translation of this French novella adds the words to the last scene, It is better to burn than to disappear. Oddly, this isn’t in the original French or in the translation I read.
For rock music fans of my generation, we’ll recognize this in the words of Neil Young’s Hey, Hey, My, My:
It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.
For the younger generation, they’ll recognize the exact quote from Young’s song as part of Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.
Of course, who do 800 people on Goodreads attribute this quote to? Kurt Cobain.
Maybe life is absurd.