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The Stranger
by Albert Camus

To: ALL Date: 11/11 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:59 PM THE STRANGER by ALBERT CAMUS This is the next book on the slo-mo reading list, and our dear conductor asked me while we were in New Orleans, if I would read the translation of this wonderful novel. I tried to do so yesterday and found the particular English version that I have to be unbearable. The translation was done by Stuart Gilbert and was published by Knopf in 1946. I hope that there are some better translations. For example, the director of the home where Mersaults's mother spent her last days is described as having watery blue eyes in the Gilbert translation. Camus used the adjective "bleu clair" which has the sense of clear and light blue eyes. I will post more later. Please let me know about other translations. Jane who thinks that reading a text in the original language is one of the best selling points for taking another language. =============== Reply 1 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/11 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 11:38 PM Jane: The translation of Camus's THE STRANGER I'm reading is the new Vintage International one (1988), by a Matthew Ward, Fulbright Scholar via Stanford and Dublin who now lives in Manhattan, and whose publisher maintains he has "made the original intent [of THE STRANGER] more immediate," and "has made it our classic as well as France's..." In Ward's foreword, he explains why he's rewritten the book's renowned first sentence, replacing "Mother" with "Maman." I know zero about the linguistic implications, but I'm definitely hypnotized by the book's style--sparse and dreamlike at once, in ways I can only begin to appreciate. >>Dale in Ala., where "Yo Maman" is a gauche rejoinder =============== Reply 2 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/12 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:47 PM dale, Thanks for the information about the new Camus translation. I will look for it if I have time. But I found it extremely painful trying to read this work in English, because it is so beautiful in French. I also love the ambiguity of the title. L'ETRANGER has the sense of being not only a stranger but a foreigner as well. Jane who could easily do a commercial about the value of learning a second language. =============== Reply 3 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/13 From: LQYA01B HUNTEROSE SANDMAN Time: 7:52 PM Greetings dear Jane and Dale . . . Jane . . . yes! L'ETRANGER is a more beautiful word -- a truer capturing of THE STRANGER and its feeling of being "outside" of it all . . . I read the Matthew Ward translation Dale mentioned, and was very pleased with it. Our narrator has a unique honesty about him that at once we both relate with and recoil from . . . indeed, I do understand how a man can simply get the sun in his eyes-- panic -- and, kill a man . . . how Camus's narrator conveys this is tres effective, no? Would you or I have such impartial candor in a private memoir, or journal . . . or better yet . . . could any of us demonstrate Camus's skill in painting such a well-framed symetry ? I LOVE IT! I read the Ward trans. a year and a half ago, but I'm looking forward to re-reading it so I may enjoy my very first (reading when you guys are) discussion! ---Morpheus =============== Reply 4 of Note 31 =================  
To: LQYA01B HUNTEROSE SANDMAN Date: 11/13 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:40 PM Morpheus, Dale and all, Are we ready for discussion? I hope so, because our slo-mo list seems to be getting slower and slower. I wrote some background information in a notebook and then left the notebook at school. I will try to post about Camus' life tomorrow. Jane who can hardly wait. =============== Reply 5 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/14 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 0:06 AM Thanks very much for complying with my request re THE STRANGER, Jane; when you mentioned in N.O. that you taught the book in French I knew we had a rare opportunity to get an expert perspective on the novel. We had a go-round just before you arrived in C.R. about the kinds of things that are lost in translation, and I'd like to get back into the matter in a specific context. I've been dreadfully negligent of my responsibility to keep the reading group moving forward, but I vow to have this read in the next week if at all possible. If you can find a better translation I'd like to see some examples of what made one version better than the other -- or of what you beleive could still stand some improvement! Or, just take the direct route and produce your own! Allen =============== Reply 6 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/14 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 7:37 PM RE: "L'Etranger". . . . .Oh, Jane, I just now noticed this little discussion. So sorry. By all means secure the translation by Matthew Ward. It can be had in a paperback edition published by Vintage International--the one Dale obviously has. Here is another passage from the Translator's Note by Mr. Ward: "Camus acknowledged employing an "American method" in writing THE STRANGER, in the first half of the book in particular: the short, precise sentences; the depiction of a character ostensibly without consciousness; and, in places, the "tough guy" tone. Hemingway, Dos Passos, Faulkner, Cain, and others had pointed the way. There is some irony then in the fact that for forty years the only translation available to American audiences should be Stuart Gilbert's "Britannic" rendering. His is the version we have all read, the version I read as a schoolboy in the boondocks some twenty years ago. As all translators do, Gilbert gave the novel a consistency and voice all his own. A certain paraphrastic earnestness might be a way of describing his effort to make the text intelligible, to help the English-speaking reader understand what Camus meant. In addition to giving the text a more "American" quality, I have also attempted to venture farther into the letter of Camus's novel, to capture what he said and how he said it, not what he meant. In theory, the latter should take care of itself." I think those are very apt comments, and I am sure that you will find this translation much more satisfying. In fact I should have mentioned this translation when I nominated the book. Still and all, I concede that it is still only a translation. However, I look forward to your opinion as to how close he came. Your pal. 11/14/95 6:36PM CT =============== Reply 7 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/14 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:44 PM Steve, Allen, and all, I will try to obtain this translation over the weekend. Albert Camus was born in 1913 in Algeria. Because his father was killed in World War I, he was raised by his mother. He refers to his upbringing as being poverty stricken and sordid. In 1942, both L'ETRANGER and LE MYTHE DE SISYPHE were published. Philip Thody says, "His automatic assumption that life had no meaning, his denunciation of hope, his determined refusal of any comforting transcendence exactly fitted the mood of the time." Keep in mind that France was occupied by the Germans during this time. Camus said that the fact that his works so closely captured the feeling of the time was purely unintentional. Camus used the following quote at the beginning of MYTHE. "Oh my soul, seek not after immortal life, but exhaust the fullness of the present." I think this is a good introduction to C's version of existentialism. Jane who is presently studying Maupassant with her French IV students. =============== Reply 8 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/15 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 0:33 AM Jane, Steve and Whomever: This is a good point to interject a question I've been mulling about Camus and this book. Camus apparently protested that he was not an Existentialist, but rather an Absurdist. Despite the closeness of the relation to Sartre, he denied a philosophical identity. What exactly is the difference between existentialism and absurdism, as viewed through the finely ground glass of French literary perspective? Dick in Alaska who is looking forward to the discussion on this book as we've been without a major book thread for TOO long (and Jane, checkout the Everyman Library edition -- same translation as touted by the Consigliere, but with an extra 15 page 'introduction' by Peter Dunwoodie about Camus, the book and a number of critical issues. It'll probably be coals to Newcastle for you, but it was all new to me) =============== Reply 9 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/15 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:02 PM Sir R., When I teach the absurd I use the works of Ionesco, because he depicts the world as an absurd place, where nothing has any meaning. I suppose that Camus carries this thought somewhat further, but I really think he is an existentialist. To me there seems to be a lot more humor in absurd literature than in existentialism. In exist. there seems to be more pessimism. The only way to make life worth living is to be in engaged in it as Sartre would say. He does talk about the wish of man to be as stable as an object. "A chair is a chair is a chair". But this is not possible for man. He is a subject who wishes to be an object. Perhaps, the absurdists evolved into existentialism. From what I have read both schools of thought were greatly influenced by the futility and destruction of World War I. I hope that helps. Jane in lovely Colorado where her husband, a government employee, has suddenly become a house husband. =============== Reply 10 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/16 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 11:17 AM Jane: On impulse, as sometimes happens, I skipped ahead and peeked at the last few paragraphs of THE STRANGER. I was struck by the breathtaking line, "For the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world." Something tells me that a distinction this ineffable is the kind of thing that makes translators pull their hair out. I'd appreciate any enlightenment, geared for a non-French-speaker such as myself, as to what Matthew Ward faced in Camus' original, how he dealt with it, and whether you might have done it differently. Thanks, >>Dale in Ala., powerfully impressed by Camus and his translator too =============== Reply 11 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/16 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 3:12 PM "STRANGER" MURDER, Part 1*** All: Whew. I happened to do a search of the Homework Helper database for material about Camus, and came across this eerie article from last summer in the L.A. Times. (Note: possible spoiler alert, because the plot of the novel is described in some detail...) *** Novel Cited by Chan Often Misunderstood, Teachers Say By Jodi Wilgoren, Los Angeles Times August 9, 1994 The award-winning novel Robert Chan blames for his brutal slaying of a fellow honor student is widely read but often misunderstood by bright young people, Orange County educators said Monday. Albert Camus' "The Stranger," a 123-page book with simple language and straightforward narrative covering complex, dense philosophical concepts, commonly serves as an introduction to existentialism for high school and college students. It is routinely among the first French novels assigned to students of the language, while others read English translations in advanced high school or beginning college courses in literature or philosophy. Chan, 19, was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the New Year's Eve, 1992, slaying of Stuart A. Tay. He said in court papers that he read "The Stranger" nine months before killing Tay and determined that "everything was meaningless and nothing matters because we are all going to die." The book's narrator, Meursault, shows indifference to his mother's death, kills a stranger and remains unmoved by his own impending decapitation. The story expresses the existential philosophy that there are no objective values, only rules people make for themselves. Camus, a Frenchman from Algiers who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957, published half a dozen novels, two volumes of "Notebooks," a trilogy of plays and a book of essays before his death in 1960. But his most famous work was his first, "The Stranger." The Cure, a rock band both Chan and Tay loved, even based the 1979 song "Killing An Arab" on the novel. "Bright students who are introduced to existential ideas are often fascinated by them. That is not unusual," said Joan Kasper, a Foothill High English teacher who had Tay as a student several years ago. "The extent of the fascination and the duration of the fascination depends on the individual student." " 'The Stranger,' " Kasper added, is "a difficult book to understand." Published in 1946, the story is set in Algiers and told in two parts. The first is an 18-day chronicle in which Meursault, an insignificant French clerk, attends his mother's funeral, has a love affair and kills an Arab on a beach. The second section is a yearlong chronicle of Meursault's time in jail, his trial and his ultimate execution. (Article continued in next reply>>>) =============== Reply 12 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/16 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 3:17 PM "STRANGER" MURDER, Part 2 *** from 8/94 L.A. Times... Perhaps most famous is the novel's opening lines: "Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure." The matter-of-fact narrator continues to move through what seems a meaningless life, enjoying physical pleasures such as swimming, smoking and sex, but seeing little purpose in people's actions. "The ideas that Camus tries to exhibit in his literature is that human beings are in the strange position of being valuing and purposeful creatures, but they find themselves in a world where reality has no match for this--there aren't purposes in the world," explained Amy Thomasson, a philosopher who is teaching a course on existentialism at UCI this summer. "There isn't meaning in the world, there isn't value in the world; that's the awkward situation of humanity according to Camus," Thomasson said. "He argues that there is no intrinsic meaning in the world apart from what human beings project onto it." The book's climax comes during a seaside holiday, when Meursault encounters the Arab and determines that it does not matter whether he fires the revolver he is holding. Later, almost by accident, he kills the man, then pumps four more bullets into his corpse. In jail for 11 months, Meursault misses smoking and sex but is not absolutely unhappy. He admits the murder, but the judge and jury are more upset with his indifference to his mother's death, and thus sentence him to decapitation in a public place. Meursault decides that life is profoundly absurd, and faces his death in peace. Matthew Potolsky, a UCI instructor in comparative literature, said "The Stranger" is famous for its exploration of "the gratuitous act." "If there's no meaning in the world then this one act can just sort of occur," Potolsky explained. Meursault "just accepts the consequences of that act, he doesn't really feel remorse, he doesn't rue the fact that he did it...He doesn't feel he acted wrongly, because the act had no meaning." According to letters Chan wrote the court and the Tay family before his sentencing, his reading of Camus in March, 1992, led him down a trail of deterioration that ended in Tay's death. Chan said he stopped brushing his teeth, abandoned socks and tried wearing the same clothes for a week to see if anyone noticed. No one did. But unlike Meursault, Chan said he does feel remorse for the murder. "My shame and guilt will never cease to torment me," Chan wrote. "As I talked to my family, I felt their incredible grief and sorrow overwhelmingly in waves and pressing down upon my conscience with an unbearable weight...My heart was truly broken when my mother cried in front of me. I could not face her." *** Thoughts, anybody, on life imitating art? Don't I recall reading that Goethe's novel THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER set off a wave of teen suicides when it was released? >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 13 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/16 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 9:47 PM Dale: That settles it; the kids are going on a straight diet of Nintendo and trash television. These books are far too dangerous in uneducated hands. Interesting book, this stranger; I can remember being incredibly puzzled by it as a teenager (carried it around to coffee houses, and perused it while smoking a pipe. I'm not making this up; Balkan Sobranie, zits and Camus, all at sixteen. If I had ANY pride I'd be too embarassed to relate this story). Time hasn't helped me much. Question one: What, if any, difference is there between an existentialist and a sociopath? Question two: Why do so many translated sentences in French literature begin with the word "Obviously"? Question three: If the world has only the meaning in it that we humans project upon it, why does that translate into "meaninglessness"? Question four: does Meursault actually get whacked in the end, or is he still waiting for his stainless steel Godot? Question five: if you enjoy smoking, swimming and screwing, and all else is meaningless, why not fake it for the judge and the jury so you can get another pack of fags, a trip to the beach and most important (I'm a non-smoking, non-swimmer, so I may be prejudiced) another shot at the sweet Marie? Seems like this existentialism is a non-starter, evolutionarily speaking. Of course, so is smoking, and swimming in the Mediterranean, so perhaps it evens out. Dick in Alaska, who believes Camus deserves a gold star for his description of Paris ("It's dirty. Lots of pigeons and dark courtyards. Everybody's pale." Everyman's Library edition, page 41) =============== Reply 14 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/16 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:07 PM Dale, Oh, Mon Dieu!! I left L'ETRANGER at school so I won't be able to give you my translation of the passage you mentioned. Thanks, for posting the article. I don't believe that the murder of the Arab was a gratuitous act. The Arab had already slashed Raymond, and it was so terribly hot. I can understand Mersault's confusion when he met the Arab at the spring, and the Arab still had the knife. The heat played a major role at the burial of his mother as well. I also don't agree that he faced his death with indifference, because he talks about dreading the dawn each day. That is when they came to execute the prisoners. The thing that I admire about Mersault is his absolute honesty. He is a great observer of life. At the beginning he stands on his balcony watching the world go by on a Sunday, and he observes the jury and witnesses during his trial with great objectivity. Before I go on and on, I would like to hear from some of the rest of you. Jane who is furious with congress over the shutdown. =============== Reply 15 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/16 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 10:46 PM Excellent set of questions you have posed, Richard! These will be a great jumping off point for discussion. I will get back to you this weekend. Your pal. 11/16/95 9:44PM CT =============== Reply 16 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/17 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 0:47 AM To answer Dale's question about the association of books/ literature with violent acts, the most famous case is obviously the Loeb/Leopold murder case, in which both defendants were fascinated with Nietzsche. Darrow wound up defending the philosopher along with them. What is startling about that case, in retrospect, is the complete absence of psychological testimony or even any idea it would be relevant. Yet when you read the way Dickie Loeb and Nathan Leopold were raised, you wonder why nobody realized they were a disaster waiting to happen. Dickie Loeb's father, for example, would not speak to him or see him but commanded that he be given money whenever he wanted it. Loeb was killed in a homosexual fracas in prison. Nathan Leopold did some rather brilliant medical work and started university classes in the prison. Eventually he was freed through the intervention of Carl Sandburg, among others. Elmer Goetz was the successful lawyer. - But at the time of the case, the whole thing revolved around the concept of the Superman. Now, about that comic strip..... Cathy =============== Reply 17 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/17 From: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Time: 5:00 AM Jane Niemeier SECOND LANGUAGES. In response to your comments on learning a second language. Oui et non. It takes such a talent to become proficient in a second language. Can it be tied to musical ability? Or, are some minds just attuned automatically to the concept of language. And, do we need to distinguish the sound to appreciate the nuances? Or is it just an academic exercise? Of course, I don't know. But I did observe a lot of very different men come into our little Army hospital in France. Some picked up the language verbally; some visually, from classes & text book exercises. And for some it seemed to be impossible. And there were some who picked up other languages as well. How wonderful to be proficient in another language. It opens new doors to libraries of understanding. But it is a gift that some of us cannot share fully. No matter how hard we try. Those were the days when "existentialism" was in vogue. The "outsider", as Camus was. Wasn't he Algerian? Or? After 40 years, I cannot remember details, but the emotions are still with me. To die, for the wrong reason. And to accept it as a natural event. Maybe it will be a nice day. Well I will look for the book. I'm afraid the only copy in the house is in French. Belonging to the Bright Full scholar that I married once, long ago. Edd Houghton, trying to catch the wisp of a memory. =============== Reply 18 of Note 31 =================  
To: FBED59A EDWARD HOUGHTON Date: 11/17 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 12:14 PM Dear CRFCs, I read THE STRANGER so many years ago that a rereading is in order before I can discuss anything other than its title and author. However, dear Jane, I'm sure you'll be horrified to know that a few years ago my brother lived for a short while on CAMUS STREET in Alexandria, VA. All the residents of that street pronounced it, you guessed it, (cover your eyes), KAYMUSS St. Ruth, in Redlands, where work, writing, art, family responsibilities, household maintence and general life support activities are interfering with her real life here on CR. Hope to be back with you soon =============== Reply 19 of Note 31 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 11/17 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 1:21 PM Ruth, Good to "hear" your voice. Re: "KAY-muss" Street, it seems that French pronunciation is very hit and miss in the hinterlands. A good friend of mine is from a South Alabama town named Lafayette, and as you might guess, the natives pronounce it luh-FATE. >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 20 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/17 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 7:01 PM Dear Camus-ians (-ites?): A few observations on Camus' religious life, courtesy of the Monarch Study Guide on the Homework Helper database. Comments welcomed... *** Camus And Religion Many critics have judged Camus to be essentially concerned with religious problems: who is man, how should he live, what is his destiny, by what rules should be conduct himself? "In fact," says Thomas Hanna, in his article "Albert Camus and the Christian Faith," "it readily becomes apparent that in all his literary pieces Camus is centrally concerned with religious/moral themes...' and "Albert Camus is today's most articulate non-Christian thinker." Note that Camus is not an anti-Christian but simply a "non-Christian." It is with the Christian faith that Camus must come to terms. Camus believes that Christianity has been turned into "a doctrine of injustice." Christ was an innocent and unjustly killed. Christianity is founded on the acceptance of this injustice. The problems settled by the acceptance of the death of Christ are precisely the problems of evil and death. Accepting the innocent death of Christ means accepting evil and death. But these are precisely what the rebel cannot accept. The death of the innocent poses the essential problem. Father Paneloux in THE PLAGUE sees that the Christian must accept "the all or nothing" of his commitment to his faith. The equilibrium between humanity and nature was first broken by Christianity, which put man's salvation beyond nature. Camus' whole effort is to validate values drawn only out of man's relationship with nature. Because of the lucidity and integrity and consistency of his views, Camus becomes a critic of Christianity whom the Christian can find valuable for the inspection of his own position. Father Bernard Murchland, in his article "Albert Camus: The Dark Night Before the Coming of Grace?" goes even further. He suggests that during the period just before his death Camus was moving steadily towards conversion to Roman Catholicism. The extreme logical integrity of Camus' conscience supports this belief. His art, towards the end, becomes "more serene, disinterested, and assumes something comparable to a redemptive dimension." In THE PLAGUE he had been primarily concerned with serving men, not saving them. In THE FALL and in EXILE AND THE KINGDOM, "he stresses the new values of penance and expiation." Murchland takes the irony of THE FALL into consideration. Camus' work has shown his "pilgrimage" out of absurdity toward a "high sense of purpose." It would not be surprising to see him finally adopt a position in which existence became "purposeful." Henri Peyre, however, in his article "Camus the Pagan" insists that Camus was a pagan from first to last, and that there is no justification for seeing him as an inverted Christian moving towards conversion. Peyre sees Camus' value precisely in his thoroughgoing paganism. He quotes him as saying that "Contemporary unbelief does not rest on science...It is a passionate unbelief." The evolution of Camus' ethics, from this position, is detailed in another article by Doubrovsky called "The Ethics of Albert Camus." Philip Thody analyzes the work of Camus as it moves from a personalist philosophy created out of a concrete situation into the great mainstream of liberal "humanism." *** >>Dale in Ala., where humanists ("liberal" being redundant, of course) are occasionally lynched, at least in spirit, and Christians desiring introspection regarding their position are far scarcer than the teeth of hens... =============== Reply 21 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/17 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:32 PM Dale and all, I think that the only time that Mersault becomes passionate is when he is venting his rage at the priest in prison. When the priest asks him if he has not seen the face of Christ on the prison wall, M. says that he would be more likely to see the face of a woman than the face of Christ. He is sort of like Palinor in that he will not compromise his beliefs for a second. Jane in gorgeous Colorado. =============== Reply 22 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/18 From: LQYA01B HUNTEROSE SANDMAN Time: 1:22 AM Hello again to all the CR clan . . . Having a wonderful time here with THE STRANGER . . . the book goes with me everywhere now, and I'm determined to fill the margins (all blank areas, actually) with my loopy note jotting. (The only used books I cannot sell are those that have been used by myself --- perhaps, I am over-zealous in my USING of books.) A few "jottings" that some of you may find noteworthy thus far: THE STRANGER (Ward trans.) Chapter One: THINGS THAT CRACKED ME UP: 1) (Meuraults thoughts re getting thew time off from work to attend his Mamans funeral) -- "I asked my boss for two days off and there was no way he was going to refuse me with an excuse like that." 2) (On shaking the funeral directors hand) -- "Then he shook my hand and held it so long I didn't know how to ge it loose." THINGS THAT MAY BE SIGNIFICANT (or at least looking into): 1) Chap.1 Meursault comments; "For now, it's almost as if Maman weren't dead." -- is Camus illuminating Maman's life here . . . perhaps the only real attention poor Maman has received is the unavoidable attentions kin MUST pay to their recently deceased? Was she ignored greatly during her life? 2) If Meursault did not consider his Maman "alive" during her life, then I think this statement is along the same lines: "It was true. When she was at home with me, Maman used to spend her time following me with her eyes, not saying a thing." . . . am I looking to closely here? STUFF: 1) The word "Official" pops up quite a bit in Chap.1 . . . people going to their "office" seems relevant here, and all of the reference to things "official" (having to get the black tie, and arm band, M noting the old mans ribbon of the Legion of Honor, etc . . .) 2) Camus has his narrator noting travel-time a great deal . . .why? Getting there/transit time ,waiting, and frustrastion. Hmm. Why so much on this so early? Better stop and send this much now . . . looking forward to any and all feedback dear Crs! Morpheus in Atlanta =============== Reply 23 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/18 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 8:48 AM Dick: I've been mulling your question about the existentialist/sociopath connection, and I think you're onto something major here. The only difference I can see in the two is that sociopaths, of whom I've known more than my share over the years, seem to be a good deal more organized. Compared to a "conscience-less" (in the traditional sense) soul who takes life at its default settings, so to speak, as Meursault seems to, the sociopath by contrast strikes me as an absolute dynamo of activity...all of it self-serving, manipulative, and opportunistic to the max, but still. Whether it's their lack of moral gyroscope or something biochemical, it's perversely beautiful to see a sociopath at work--the way they can become, at the drop of a hat, all things to all people, at Academy-Award levels, and how effortlessly, Teflon-like, they wiggle out of scrapes that result from their past transgressions catching up with them. Amazing. As to your other point, I agree that when a potential existentialist convert asks him/herself, "What's in this for me?" the obvious answer seems to me "Not a lot." One of the study guides quotes Camus himself as saying something to the effect that he's not talking about merely a lack of belief, but "a passionate unbelief." To me, that translates into a heck of a lot of work, and I'm opportunistic enough (a budding sociopath, maybe?) to think that if I'm going to that much trouble, then--unlike Meursault and Palinor--it should be in the service of a belief system that works for my personal benefit. Martyrdom never did appeal to me. I too am neither a swimmer nor a smoker, but the goal of evenings and breakfasts with sweet Marie laughing and wearing my shirt would definitely tilt my moral gyroscope. Interesting to me that at least one scholar saw Camus as moving toward Catholicism in his last years. It's paradoxical to me that someone like Flannery O'Connor could write her dark and daring fiction while being devoutly Roman Catholic. In her collected letters from the book HABIT OF BEING, some non-Catholic friend remarks to her that this religious business is all well and good, if she keeps in mind that components of it such as the Host are "just symbols." To which Flannery responds, "If it's just a symbol, I say to hell with it." Fascinating woman. >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 24 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/18 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 10:31 AM Jane I too thought of Palinor as I read this, but it seemed to me the two men took the same core belief in opposite directions. Mersault felt that the lack of spirituality made his actions meaningless; whereas at point, Palinor said something to the effect "It is because there is nothing else out that we must behave morally. It is all up to us." (I'm paraphrasing -- KOA is long back at the library). Sorry this is so foggy, but the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet...Peggy =============== Reply 25 of Note 31 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 11/18 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 1:46 PM Peggy: I agree that Palinor believed in something: he had an ethical system and was true to it. Meursault on the other hand seems incredibly passive: that languid, Gallic indifference we see in the 'serious' French cinema, where all comments are elliptical and all rejoinders cryptic. A further question for consideration: was the death sentence in this case unjust? Wasn't the murder of the Arab so irrational, so unjustified as to suggest Mssr. Meursault just might be a teeny bit of a danger to the community? Wasn't the crime pretty heinous as such things go? One other matter: I'm buying a new computer system for the office -- we're diving into networking, pentiums all around and a nuclear-powered scanner. Consequently, I'll be in the 'scan it in and upload' business in a few weeks. The book related part of all this is that I've just ordered some (supposedly) heavy-duty French language translation software; someday soon I'll post some Camus-cum-machine for review and discussion. I may even do my own translation. God, I love technology. Dick in Alaska, where he can hardly wait P.S. Jane and all: Did the blowing of the siren before dawn indicate the execution was imminent, or was it just morning in Algiers? =============== Reply 26 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/18 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 3:23 PM RE: Camus according to the Consigliere. . . . Folks, I know a little about this stuff, but not nearly enough. However, let me wade in anyway-- the old Consigliere never having been intimidated into keeping his mouth shut by a mere breathtaking lack of knowledge. I think the evidence, his later writing, indicates Camus himself became bothered by the same things about absurdism that are bothering the two of you, Richard and Dale. Remember that THE STRANGER, his first novel, was published in 1942 while Camus was deeply involved in the Resistance at the ripe old age of 28. Consequently, in fairness to him, let us just say that he wrote it during a time that was not entirely conducive to an optimistic pondering of the noble meaning of existence and man's proper place in a grand scheme. Furthermore, I think it is a mistake to completely identify Camus with Mersault. Rather, I think we might more properly think of Mersault as a character used my Camus to illustrate some ideas. What I am saying here, Richard, is that we should not necessarily assume that Albert himself wouldn't have danced a jig in front of that judge and jury in order to have another go with sweet Marie and a smoke and a swim afterward. Camus's (Professor Strunk tells me to ALWAYS add the apostrophe and the additional "s" regardless of how ridiculous it looks) ideas continually evolved. The general consensus is that the point of his novel THE PLAGUE published in 1947, a very good year--the year of my nascency into this interesting scene, was to glorify the perseverance and dignity of people striving, with very little success by the way, for the good of their fellow man. So I would offer that as Exhibit A in defense against the charge that his particular brand of Existentialism is simply a thinly disguised form of sociopathy. I say "his particular branch" of Existentialism because Camus is probably responsible for all of Existentialism being tarred with the term "absurdist." In fact that is unfair to Sartre. Although they were pals for a good many years, Camus and Sartre had a regular hissy fit with each other in later years. (I love people that have horrible arguments about stuff like this, in contrast to those in much greater numbers who are inclined to feud over who was treated most unfairly in Aunt Bertha's estate.) As to Camus's alleged flirtation with Catholicism in later years, I doubt it. This theory apparently arises from a particular scholar's reading of THE FALL. However, we will never know, Albert having been taken from us at the ripe old age of 46 by that venerable institution, the automobile crash. I can't help but note that he did a good deal of theater work, and one piece that he is most noted for is an adaptation of Faulkner's REQUIEM FOR A NUN. I find that very interesting for some reason. In any event it is all rather passe, life being so meaningful and logical for all of us. He who dies with the most toys wins. (I am always inclined to rephrase this, "He who squanders the most of the Earth's resources wins.") So simple. So concrete. So easily understood-- except apparently for a few of our youth. I would add to Catherine's example of Leopold and Loeb that of the murderer of John Lennon. Do you remember what book it was that supposedly inspired him to that act, Dale? Next for me it will be on to the text of THE STRANGER, Morpheus, I promise. Your pal. 11/18/95 2:19PM CT, who is feeling VERY cocky today! During a rare peek into a newspaper last week, I learned that eggs are not bad for me after all. I knew it. I knew it. I KNEW IT! Thank Heavens I had the rare good judgment not to deny myself my breakfast eggs based on some comedian's (or comedienne's) word after having just published his "study." I like 'em fried in the bacon drippings with SALT and PEPPAH liberally applied--the eggs, not the comedian. During my spiritual [to be continued] =============== Reply 27 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/18 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 3:23 PM [continued from above] . . . ponderings on Sunday morning, I add a side of Potatoes O'Brien, too. Why can't these people do a study on something that is obviously extremely deleterious to one's health--like the habit of RUNNING every day? The child bride's knees have three inches of play in them from doing that in her youth. Besides, you tend to spill your beer. These things always come full circle. You all remember well those ads in the early fifties featuring Ronald Reagan touting the health benefits of menthol cigarettes. Mark my words, Possums. Before the end of the century you will all again be encouraged by the Surgeon General to try to smoke at least a pack a day for the health benefits (not to mention the signs that will be placed in the buses reading "Remember! A jelly glass full of cheap, warm bourbon everyday keeps the doctor away"). The benefits seem patently obvious to me. For example, one can be fairly assured that one will never be caught in the embarrassing and entirely unhealthy predicament of being incarcerated and bedridden in a "Home," drooling while some old licensed practical bag (I prefer the young, unlicensed, entirely impractical sort, myself) pokes pins into one to determine if one is still "alive." Much better--a much more graceful departure is to be dropped in one's tracks by a massive coronary, that is, as long as one is not in the john at the time or in the company of the wrong woman. You still have your looks, too. When people come to pay their last respects after a departure like this, they invariably say, "He looks like he could sit up and speak." So the lesson from the Consigliere today is this. Spend a great deal more time considering that which you are denying yourselves and whether the price of that denial is a fair one. Ars longa, vita brevis. =============== Reply 28 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/18 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:05 PM Richard, As I said ain an earlier post, I believe that the murder was somewhat understandable, considering that the Arab had just knifed his "friend" Raymond, and that Mersault cannot stand the heat. Once he fired the first shot, why not fire the four others? I am a person who feels the heat, as they say in the south where I was born. I can understand the confusion. Camus compares the sun's rays to a sword smoting M. in the forehead. Perhaps this is why I have never owned a gun. Jane who feels some sympathy for Mersault. =============== Reply 29 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/19 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 0:23 AM Ma cher Jeanne: It is well you decided upon teaching instead of criminal defense as a career. Why NOT four more shots, if you've already fired one? No reason at all, if you are a depraved murderer, indifferent to human life, and indeed intent upon it's extinguishment. Otherwise, I think we need more.... As to the heat, think of how Meursault loves the heat; he has never been confused in the heat before (that I recall). He is Algerienne; he basks in the heat; he runs after a truck in the midday heat to catch a ride, and swings onto the bed, dripping sweat and laughing on the way to lunch. NEVER has the heat effected him, except positively. Only on the beach (where it is not the heat, but the sun that is mentioned) is there a problem. As to the knifing of his 'friend' Raymond -- some friend. He is indifferent to Raymond; he barely tolerates him. There is no affection, no love. This is simply not a crime of passion, at least if Camus' (ses') narrative is to be believed. And, we must remember, that Meursault walked through the sun and the heat, down the beach to the Arab. He rekindled the the confrontation. All the Arab did was draw a knife as Meursault drew near (apparently with his revolver showing; the text doesn't reflect his drawing it from a pocket; indeed the text does't even mention him lifting it and pointing it before firing; was he walking down the beach with the revolver pointed at the Arab already?); the Arab didn't even get to his feet before he was shot dead. I am afraid, cher Jeanne, that the evidence against Mssr. Meursault is overwhelming. Not that he was an unfeeling brute with respect to his mother, but rather, that he was a cold blooded, sociopathic (or psychopathic) killer, who took the life of another human being with a casual disregard for the consequences that is absolutely chilling. I'm no death penalty advocate generally, but if there is a death penalty, I don't think Meursault has much to complain about. Somewhere in this discussion, I read a comment by either Meursault or a commentator to the effect that the death of the Arab "wasn't important". This fits in generally with Meursault's views as to the insignificance of individual lives and deaths, and the future and the past, in the grand scheme of things. I keep wondering though: wasn't it important to the Arab? After all, Meursault's impending death certainly seemed to get his attention. Finally, I wonder, just a tiny bit, is there an element of incipient racisim here -- is the fact that the murder involves a mere Arab of signficance? We do know that French Algeria was not a model of civil rights activism; we also know that France itself viewed the Algerian colonists (not to mention the Arabs) with a certain contempt and and condecension, calling them 'pied noirs' if I recall correctly in a derogatory reference to their barefoot, redneck agricultural backgrounds. Is the judicial outrage at Meursault's attitudes and conduct brought into sharper relief, and dramatized by the fact he is sentenced to death for the murder of an ARAB? It doesn't seem to me very likely that this was an intentional part of Camus's(es) scheme, given the time and the place the novel was written. Still, it seems a question worth asking. Dick in Alaska, who could stand quite a bit of that North African sun and sand =============== Reply 30 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/19 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 9:01 AM Dick & Jane, [sorry; I couldn't resist] The question of "Why not four more shots?" for the Arab reminds me of a short item from our local paper a while back, in a column about doings at the county courthouse. A woman charged with the shooting death of her husband pleaded not guilty on the grounds that it was "a mercy killing." When asked to elaborate, she told the court, "I shot him once, but then he was in such terrible suffering that I had no choice but to put him out of his misery." Makes sense to me, but for some reason the jury didn't buy it. A question, here...It seems to me that in the moments just before the killing by Meursault, Camus goes to great lengths to stack the deck, narratively speaking, by repeating variations on the theme of "I realized you could either shoot or not shoot," "To stay or go, it amounted to the same thing," "I'd gone there without even thinking about it," "All I had to do was turn around and it would be over," "I knew it was stupid..." ad infinitum. And this only minutes after he'd so cannily counseled Raymond on the fine points of personal responsibility in a similar situation. It seems to me the guy doth protest too much, and I'm wondering if the original language has any greater sense of justification for that cinematic Gallic languor that Dick so aptly referred to earlier. >>Dale in Ala., where staying and going always amount to very different things =============== Reply 31 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/19 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 12:25 PM So then if great literature is distinguished by its success in shedding light on the predicament we find ourselves in as human beings, what does Camus teach us? He teaches us that even though we live in an age of science, science can be a seductive liar in many respects. Science advances a multitude of propositions along the line of "if such-and-such occurs, then such and such will occur." It assumes that this world is logical. Certainly, science has produced great things, such as the tool that I type on this very minute, but it is utterly useless and many times dangerous in determining how to live one's life as an individual. In other words to the extent that the scientific mind set slops over into human affairs, it can and does produce serious error. In the end we are adrift on a sea of absurdity, and the most absurd phenomenon of all is death. It is apparent that the actual facts surrounding the murder of the Arab, played no part in the determination of Mersault's fate in those judicial proceedings. Rather his perceived attitude toward the death of his mother determined his fate. I find that to be an absolute truth in my experience. We have just seen a wonderful example of this in our own trial of the century. Now is that or is that not absurd? Yet we are so found of envisioning our judicial system as the epitome of logic, in fact a kind of scientific fact finding apparatus, if you will. As to this Kafka and Camus are of the same mind. Let's talk about eggs and death again. The scientists were telling us "if you refrain from eating eggs, you won't die of coronary heart disease." Now that was the bottom line of the message. Camus would laugh at this proposition. He would point out eloquently that whether one eats eggs or not really makes no difference in the big picture. Death may await you in the form of a drunken driver on the first day you abstain from eggs, and there you are dead anyway with no eggs in you stomach. He would also, I think, laugh at statistical probabilities as a method of governing one's conduct. This sort of mathematics is absolutely irrelevant to the individual human being. If one were to pick up one's Sunday New York Times today and read through the front section and the Week in Review, one would find a veritable plethora of examples of the absurd, many far more heart rending than the misguided attempt to get people to swear off eggs so they won't die. To the extent that one attains more and more literacy, the easier it becomes to recognize absurdity for what it is. All Camus was doing in THE STRANGER was setting out this proposition. He then elaborated on it the form of the essay THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS. He then tackled the problem of how we are to govern our conduct in this absurd world in THE PLAGUE and works that followed while producing plays and great short stories. He attempted a new Reformation by attacking both Christianity and Marxism as they manifested themselves in his time. He had a whale of an argument with Jean Paul Sartre about all this. And he won the Nobel Prize. Then he was killed in an automobile collision at the age of 46, over two years younger than I am now. What a fitting illustration of his own ideas! I am finished now. I just wanted to try to make clear why I had suggested this particularly book for the slo-mo group. Your pal. 11/19/95 11:24AM CT =============== Reply 32 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/19 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 5:55 PM Steve: Your latest post got me thinking about my analysis of 'The Stranger'; I think I may have been off on the wrong foot thinking of it so strongly as existentialist in tone; your note, going into the absurdist aspects, plus your earlier comments about Camus's (I'll follow your lead on this plural 's' business, but it sure looks funny to me) youth have turned me a bit . First, some of the problems I perceive in the internal logic of the story become non-existent if the intent is simply to dramatize the absurdist elements, and not to proclaim existential reality. Thus, Meursault's conviction based upon the judge's sense that he was a bad son and unfeeling human being, becomes a more valid point if it is based on the absurd; my earlier comments on this point (that he was guilty as hell, and that his emotional shallowness and moral tone deafness were, at most, additional circumstantial evidence of that guilt, and the formulation that 'nothing matters' simply hadn't been shown in the context of the story) assumed an existential thesis. Also, it's my personal view that absurdist literature and viewpoints appeal most strongly to the young. It is so much more painful for a young person to confront the randomness and illogic of life, just at that point in their lives when they feel so FULL of life and it's possibilities. Just as the gift is received, the poisonous knowledge of death and futility begins to seep in -- a dreadful symmetry, leading to all sorts of terrible things like youthful flings with socialism, tremendous amounts of irresponsible sexual activity, and a nihilistic dedication to whiskey, drugs and tobacco. God I miss being even a little bit young. A final point, is Camus's steadfast determination that he and Sartre held fundamentally different philosophical views. And, while I'm not even remotely expert on Sartre, I do believe "The Stranger" is quite different from his thinking. As you point out, the two had quite a falling out some years later, in significant part over Camus's insistence that such values as justice and morality, in human context, were as important or even more so than political structure. It is probably a mark of the extraordinary power of Camus's intellectual force in Europe and particularly in France, that he could separate himself from Marxist influences, in defiance of the political correctness of the French intelligentsia, and get away with it. It most definitely was not popular in the late 1950's in France to point out that communism had the staggering shambles and was kept afloat largely by the blood of the innocent. Taking a simultaneous shot at the church undoubtedly helped him a bit here as well. Anyway, excellent choice for reading material, Mr. Warbasse, sir, your consiglierity. I don't know what else could have convinced me to wade through the Encyclopedia Britannica articles on existentialism and modern philosophy, plus the subpart on Camus and the theater of the absurd; just like college, except I'm actually doing the reading. Dick in Alaska, who once owned a Peugeot that made numerous attempts on his life, and wonders if Camus was killed, quel horreur, by a French manufactured automobile. Another case of a mother devouring her young? =============== Reply 33 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/19 From: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Time: 6:11 PM Consigliere, you seem to find this recognition of absurdity so liberating. Am I correct? I find it nearly paralyzing. I have to acknowlege it when it rears - as it has with this reading of THE STRANGER and of all these notes - but then I have to run from it. It is the place where I see too far - not a productive perspective for me. -Divina (I never did give up eggs. Nature's perfect protein, you know.) =============== Reply 34 of Note 31 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 11/19 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 6:25 PM Steve: I need a cite on this egg business; perhaps I'll make chat this evening, but if not could you let me know? I've been living in fear of chickens for years now, and would love being set free. Dick in Alaska where the Colonel is out to get him, or at least his cardio-vascular system =============== Reply 35 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/19 From: HKRM88A LOUIS PETRILLO Time: 6:28 PM Your last statement reminds me of Tom Lehrer's famous crack: When Mozart was my age he'd been dead for 3 years! =============== Reply 36 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/19 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 10:24 PM Dick, I'm not Steve, but the egg study he's been so gleefully citing was financed by the Egg Industry..... Peggy =============== Reply 37 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/20 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 0:03 AM ALBERT CAMUS WORK....THE FIRST MAN...takes FRANCE BY STORM... when french writer ALBERT CAMUS died in an automobile accident in 1960, police found a briefcase near the wreckage. Inside was the first draft of an autobiographical novel that CAMUS hoped would one day be his greatest work.. FOR 34 years, until this year, the author's family refused to publish it. The novel is called THE FIRST MAN..when it came out in FRANCE, the book created a literary sensation.. ALBERT CAMUS is the most widefly read FRENCH author of this century, but when he died he was disdained by FRENCH intellectuals for refusing to support the french communist party and algerian independence....CAMUS' friends worred that publishing an unpolished manuscript would damage the author's reputation even more.....JOSE GRANIER is now an editor at GALLIMARD, the french publisher of THE FIRST MAN...he read the manuscript back then and advised CAMUS' widow not to publish it...HE HAD a lot of enemies at the time, and we thought it will only have added to the criticism. it wasn;t the moment...PEOPLE WOULD have said, look he's writing about his childhood..he has nothing more to say.. but 34 years have passed , CAMUS' reputation has been restored and his daughter decided to publish the book....THE FIRST MAN is about CAMUS' childhood in spells out for the first time what the author thought about his life..the book has surprised critics and even former friends...writer and publisher..jean danielle..says he knew the author well but only up to a point... CAMUS used to speak about the childhood, but in a very superficial way..he said that he likes to play football, that he was a goal keeper,.....WHAT seems to have been an important issue in CAMUS' life was growing up in a poor french household where no one could read and there was little conversation..his uncle was deaf...and his mother had severe hearing problems...CAMUS writes that she spends hours staring out of the window living in her own world...but this only seems to have fed his adoration of her... continued =============== Reply 38 of Note 31 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 11/20 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 0:28 AM CONTINUED... WHEN CAMUS received the NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE in 1957..he paid tribute to his mother in his acceptance speech saying he had to speak out for the speechless....editor JOSE GRANIER says his lack of verbal communication between the mother and son is a recurring theme in the author's work going back to his first success ..THE STRANGER... You get the impression that ehy key to all of CAMUS' work is not the theory about the absurd or revolt, but rather it's his love for the silent mother, the mother who can't communicate verbally, but in a look in the way she watches him in the room, she expresses all the hardness in the world and all the suffering of life. THE FIRST MAN also reveals CAMUS' yearning for his father..LUCIEN CAMUS was killed in WORLD WAR I when his son was an of the most touching passages in the book takes place when the protagonist visits his father's grave for the first time...he's 40..he stares at the tombstone stunned, realizing his father only lived to be 29. This experience of growing up without a father explains in part the title THE FIRST MAN..but CAMUS also had something else in mind...JOSE GRANIER says CAMUS had hoped the book would be his WAR AND PEACE, an epic history told through one family of FRENCH colonials in ALGERIA. He thinks that we're the FRENCH people in ALGERIA we're the first men...because they were poor...they were sent there a little bit by force and they were so poor they didn't have any cultural memories, any roots or any past...that's what it means THE FIRST MAN.. ALBERT CAMUS' unfinished novel seems to have struck a chord with the hit the best seller list as soon as it came out and alerady it's in its second printing in FRANCE.... gail..a passionate reader ...reporting from SAN FRANCISCO...baghdad by the bay.... =============== Reply 39 of Note 31 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 11/20 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 1:34 AM Two quotes on the effects of WWI on the generation coming up after: ****I know you and I, and Phillida too, for that matter, all belong to the gang who grew up just after the war and found the place in such a mess that everything had to be a roaring joke, and we laughed ourselves along, trying everything and feeling nothing very it wasn't, then.. but times have changed. We're old. We're grown up. We're the ruling generation. When we get in a mess now it's real. *****He belonged to a post-war generation, that particular generation which was too young for one war and most prematurely too old for the next. It was the generation which had picked up the pieces after the holocaust indulged in by its elders, only to see its brave new world wearily smashed again by younger brothers. His was the age which had never known illusion, the grimly humorous generation which from childhood had both expected and experienced the seamier side. Yet now, recently, some time very lately, so near in time that the tingle of surprise still lingered, something new had appeared on his emotional horizon. It had been something which so far he had entirely lacked and which had been born to him miraculously late in his life. He saw it for what it was. It was a faith, a spiritual and romantic faith. It had been there always, of course, disguised as a rejected illusion, and must have lain there for years like a girl growing to maturity in her sleep. Now it was awake all right and recognizable; a deep and lovely passion for his home, his soil, his blessed England, his principles...... ******* These two bits come from the pen of Margery Allingham, the first from BLACK PLUMES, first published 1940, the second from TRAITOR'S PURSE of the same year. I thought of them immediately I read about the lingering effects of the war and its connection with absurdism. Cathy =============== Reply 40 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/20 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 3:47 PM Dearest Consig., I am properly chastened by your correct apostrophization of Albert's last name. Believe or not, the spirits of Strunk and White hovered at my shoulder as I actually went through the Homework Helper article and corrected it to match their standards. Then, to my shame, I decided the result indeed "looked funny" and did a search-and-replace to return the name to its original form. Next time, I will do what's right; I, of all people, should know that looking funny is no excuse for inaccuracy. While I've got you here, a question... Not to play semantics, but doesn't Camus's supposed notion of a "passionate unbelief" contradict itself by definition? I can buy the scholar's contention that Camus was "non-Christian, not anti-Christian." But it seems to me that passion presupposes a belief, however that belief may fall on the infinite spectrum from pro to con. Your thoughts? >>Dale in Ala., who threw caution to the winds and had fried potatoes for breakfast the last three days, but whose Baptist guilt requires running an extra mile as penance =============== Reply 41 of Note 31 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 11/20 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 4:20 PM Divina, as a matter of fact I do find the recognition of the absurdity of this world liberating in a certain sense, which I will be happy to explain. That line that struck Dale so forcibly--"For the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world"--is one of my favorites. So often midst the travails of this existence, we are tempted to moan, "why me?" Some spend a remaining lifetime in bitterness over some perceived injustice. Others wither on the vine after some enterprise failed--even though they did everything right, nothing turned out well. Others lapse into insanity as a result of fixating on a chain of events that was utterly illogical and tragic. It seems to me that so many people approach this world as if some sort of guaranty was issued to them at their birth warranting that everything--or anything, for that matter-- would be fair and just in their lives. No such guaranty was ever issued to any babe born of man and woman. Camus does the best job of exploring and illuminating this whole subject of any author that I am aware of, with the possible exception of the author of Ecclesiastes. Does it ease the pain of untoward events for me? Not much. Can I accept untoward events more philosophically? No doubt about it. So in that sense it is liberating. Jane and Richard, I have enjoyed your debate about the facts of the murder, and I think it illustrates something. On the one hand I agree with Richard. There is not much here to support a claim of self-defense. Also, the justification of the heat I find weak. (By the way I don't think the temperature drops below 95 from the beginning to the end of this book.) So I view Mersault as a murderer. However, I was taken by your admission that you sympathize with Mersault, Jane. I do, too. This simply makes you a sensitive human being in my estimation in that when you are allowed to explore the thoughts and motivations of an individual through the magic of a great author, you tend to understand and accept. The same phenomenon can occur in connection with Raskolnikov in CRIME AND PUNISHMENT for another example. Murderers are human, too. For my part I was just pointing out how little the actual facts of the murder had to do with Mersault conviction at trial. I found that absolutely poetic in its truth. Dale, those passages that you cited along the lines of "To stay or go, it amounted to the same thing" go to the absolute heart of this book, I think. Here again, I don't think that Mersault is Camus's alter-ego at all. I think Camus was using Mersault to portray the exact WRONG way to approach the absurdity of this world. Richard was right on when he talked about "that languid, Gallic indifference we see in the 'serious' French cinema, where all comments are elliptical and all rejoinders are cryptic." That is Mersault through and through. While Mersault may have taken a core belief in an opposite direction than Palinor, I think that Camus himself would heartily second the idea which Peggy paraphrased: "It is because there is nothing else out there that we must behave morally. It is all up to us." At least his later stuff would certainly indicate this. Which brings me to the subject of rebellion, which was a very important idea to this particular group of French cats (you've got me doing it, Catherine) that were contemporaries of Camus. To a great extent it was their answer to the absurdity of this world. It does not come up in THE STRANGER, but it comes up in spades in MAN'S FATE a great, great book by Andre Malraux that just happens to be Barbara Hill's nomination for the slo-mo group. Malraux is recognized as one of the great existentialist writers of fiction. She and I had an entertaining (for us) little discussion of that one some months ago, and I surely hope that some of you that found yourselves interested in THE STRANGER grab that one and read it soon. Morpheus, I did read and enjoy your note concerning =============== Reply 42 of Note 31 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 11/20 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 4:20 PM "things that cracked me up" and "things that may be significant." This is such a simple book on the surface, but so dense just under the surface. I find myself constantly checking passages and mentally noting to myself, "that may be significant." Still haven't figured out the significance of most of them though. For example the last line in the book where Mersault says that he won't feel so alone if there is a crowd at his execution howling at him with hatred. That one is a stumper for me. One of clear significance that baffled me for so long that I am embarrassed to admit it is found at the end of Chapter 2, Part 2, where Mersault thinks back to what the nurse said at Maman's funeral and remarks, "No, there was no way out. . . . " Now the only thing the nurse ever said is found toward the end of Chapter 1, Part 1: "She had a remarkable voice which didn't go with her face at all, a melodious, quavering voice. She said, "If you go slowly, you risk getting sunstroke. But if you go too fast, you work up a sweat and then catch a chill inside the church." But that is immediately followed by Mersault's interpretation of her remarks: "She was right. There was no way out." Took me the longest time to figure out such a simple, logical reference back. Again, the point is obviously if the eggs don't get you, the drunken driver will. There is no way out. Which brings me to you, Peggy. Why do you embarrass me with facts concerning this egg study? We're high falootin' intellectuals here concerned only with the big picture. Please don't muddy the waters with facts. (Don't let her confuse you, Richard. I will get you the cite for the egg study.) Louis, I enjoyed your needle. Why just the other day I was also saying, "When Fielding was my age, he had already been dead more than a year." (I love it. Thanks.) And thank you, gail. I had no idea this formerly unpublished work by Camus existed! I will definitely look into it. Manana, vaqueros. =============== Reply 43 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/20 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 5:01 PM Oh, Dale, my goodness! I didn't intend to chastise anybody. For ole Warbasse to chastise anybody about anything would be the height of hypocrisy. It's just that I have recently been bouncing around in ELEMENTS OF STYLE again, which I think is a veritable little masterpiece, and came across those possessive rules. Just happened that Camus was on my mind, for obvious reasons, and I sez to myself, "Well, I'll be damned! That should be CamuS'S." Looks funny as the dickens, but there it is. In black and white according to Strunk and White. Now gosh darn it and shucks, I sure wish that I had a couple of my old books that vanished during the sturm und drang of divorce number two so I could do a little extra credit reading about this "passionate unbelief" thing that has caught your interest. (When in doubt, blame number two. That's my motto.) It's caught my interest, too, since you brought it up. At first blush, certainly looks like an oxymoron, doesn't it? [Like "military intelligence"--har, har, har--(wow, am I ever sick of that illustration of an oxymoron.)] Anyway, like I said, a mere breathtaking lack of knowledge. . . . You know what I think that is all about? Camus on the one hand and the existentialists on the other held the belief that a person is not per se anything--that is, a person is not born anything. As Jane said, a person is not an object. Rather a person defines themselves by their action even in the face of a meaningless and absurd world. Maybe Richard can refine this more since he has been able to do some extra credit reading more recently than I. In any event there was certainly a lot of emphasis upon passionate action among these folks, such as rebellion, as I mentioned in the other note. So it seems to me that this goes to show that Camus was NOT advocating Mersault's passive, Gallic, taciturn unbelief but rather an active and passionate undertaking of life in spite of unbelief. Does that have the ring of truth about it for you? Does to me. [Damn. I should write that down somewhere.] Your pal. 11/20/95 4:00PM CT =============== Reply 44 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/20 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 5:18 PM Wait a minute! Wait a minute, Dale. I'm not finished yet. I want to get all this out before Ramsey jumps in here and starts fogging the issue with facts again. Jane was absolutely correct. The only time Mersault ever became passionate was when the priest visited him in prison suggesting a dose of religion when what he really needed was a dose of leg, as we were wont to say in the Army. The message of this book for me is that if you take the passionless and passive approach to this world that Mersault took, this world will certainly blow holes in you. On the other hand if you take the passionate, active approach, this world will probably still blow holes in you, but at least you will present a moving target. How's that? Your pal. 11/20/95 4:12PM CT =============== Reply 45 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/20 From: HKRM88A LOUIS PETRILLO Time: 5:55 PM This has really been a superlative string! This is on-line at its best! I just wish to heck I had something non-trivial to say & unfortunately I don't, except my sincerest thanks to those of you who have been saying such good things. =============== Reply 46 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/20 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 6:55 PM Am just beginning Book II of Matthew Ward's translation of THE STRANGER. Am wondering if it's the difference in the translation or the difference in my age since I last read it...probably a bit of both. I continually marvel at the cleanness of the much presented in so few words. I must say that this book left me somewhat cold in college. I had so little understanding of Mersault and that numb quality left me almost as impatient as the judge...though for different reasons. I was convinced that I really could affect the world (ah, those 60's) and I also wasn't listening very close to the discussion regarding Camus. The discussion here has been outstanding. Have learned enormously from it in addition to delving in again to my own thoughts about the absurd outcomes in life. However, this Ward translation would have drawn me in even without the discussion, I think. Was the Gilbert translation done while Camus was still alive? If so, it must have been a bit excruciating for him to read. Barbara =============== Reply 47 of Note 31 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 11/20 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 6:55 PM gail...Do you know if THE FIRST MAN has been published in the U.S.? Barbara =============== Reply 48 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/20 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:13 PM Steve, Wonderful post!! I also thought of Roskolnikov while reading this book. I am starting LE PREMIER HOMME today. They published it with all the little annotations, etc., as on the rough draft. It's fascinating reading a work in progress, but sad that it will never be finished. Here is an article that was in the NEW YORK TIMES that I downloaded from AOL if anyone is interested. Aug 25, 1995 The First Man By Albert Camus Translated by David Hapgood 325 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $23. Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani When Albert Camus died in a car accident in 1960, a manuscript of his unfinished last novel, "Le Premier Homme" ("The First Man"), was found in the wreckage near his body. The novel was not published in France until last year, for his family worried, as his daughter writes in an editor's note to the American edition, that its publication "might well have given ammunition to those who were saying Camus was through as a writer." At the time of his death, after all, Camus was seriously out of fashion among French intellectuals. His denunciation of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union and his failure to commit himself to Algerian independence under Arab rule had earned him the enmity of the left, while his literary endeavors - engage, earnest and devoted to the consideration of moral issues - struck the fashionable new avatars of structuralism as old-fashioned, sentimental and contemptibly humanistic. A reassessment of Camus has long been overdue, and the belated publication of "The First Man" should provide the impetus for just such an undertaking. Though the manuscript - which was to be the opening section of a projected epic novel - was left uncompleted at Camus's death, it serves as a kind of magical Rosetta stone to his entire career, illuminating both his life and his work with stunning candor and passion. In this highly autobiographical novel, the reader can see the roots of Camus's philosophy in his fatherless childhood, the roots of his social vision in the anomalous political and cultural landscape of post-World War I Algeria. Camus had been in the habit, throughout his life, of reworking everything he wrote, and his daughter, Catherine Camus, observes in her introduction that he probably would have "masked his own feelings far more" in a completed version of the book. The very unfinished quality of "The First Man," however, lends it an appealing directness missing in much of his other writing. Unlike so many of his letters and journal excerpts, these pages (which have been deftly translated by David Hapgood) contain little self-consciousness or grandiosity; unlike much of his expository writing, they shimmer with a lyricism and sensuousness that subsume the formalism of his prose. The story that Camus recounts in "The First Man" is the thinly disguised story of his own childhood - his version, as it were, of the Combray section from "Remembrance of Things Past." It is the story of a man named Jacques Cormery, who at the age of 40 leaves France and returns to Algeria, to search for information about the father he never knew, the father who was killed in World War I, while =============== Reply 49 of Note 31 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 11/20 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:20 PM (cont) Jacques was still an infant. Jacques never really does find out much about his father: his mother is silent on the subject; his father's friends, unavailable or reticent. What this aging Telemachus recovers instead is the memory of his own boyhood by the Mediterranean sea. Jacques, like Camus, grew up in a neighborhood of poor white immigrants in Algiers, a world defined by hard manual work and a stoical will to survive. Vacations were something unknown to his relatives; a few coins to buy a cone of french fries, an almost unimaginable luxury. Nature, alone, in its sublime indifference, provided a source of joy in this willfully austere world: the dazzling Mediterranean sun, the crashing surf, the sight of swallows darkening the sky in their annual journey south. All of Jacques's clothes were bought several sizes too big, in the hopes that they would last a few more years; often, they wore out before he ever grew into them. His grandmother routinely whipped him for the smallest infraction; his beautiful, sad mother - whom he worshiped with unrequited ardor - rarely spoke or made a gesture of affection. Indeed, the Cormerys lived in a world of silence. Jacques's mother, who worked as a charwoman, was partially deaf, his uncle was partially mute; neither his grandmother nor his mother could read. There were no books in their home, no newspapers, no radio, no talk of the past or future. "Poor people's memory," Jacques thinks, "is less nourished than that of the rich; it has fewer landmarks in space because they seldom leave the place where they live, and fewer reference points in time." Of course, he adds, "there is the memory of the heart that they say is the surest kind, but the heart wears out with sorrow and labor, it forgets sooner under the weight of fatigue." From this anonymous world of the poor, Jacques - again, like Camus - is transported to the glittering world of books and ideas, by a gifted teacher, who recognizes the young boy's intelligence and fervor. Jacques wins a scholarship to the local lycee, which, in time, will lead to university and a brilliant career in France. His hunger for knowledge, however, will also exile him from his past and from his family: his beloved mother will never read any of his books; she will never understand the magnitude of his achievements abroad. Small wonder then that Jacques (and Camus) would grow up as outsiders - to their families, to their wealthy classmates, to themselves. It is an outlook that would inform all of Camus's writing, from his famous debut novel, "The Stranger," through such later masterworks as "The Fall." The reader of "The First Man" will be inclined to echo the sentiments of Camus's biographer Patrick McCarthy, who has argued (with only a little hyperbole) that the author's "life and writing were shaped by a few images of his childhood - the Mediterranean, the sudden silence of the Algiers evening and, above all, his mother." Having grown up without a father, Jacques (and Camus) were forced to invent themselves, a fact that explains Camus's lifelong preoccupation with questions of morality, with questions of "how we should act" and how we should live if we do "not believe in God or in reason." Jacques, he writes, "was 16, then he was 20, and no one had spoken to him, and he had to learn by himself, to grow alone, in fortitude, in strength, find his own morality and truth, at =============== Reply 50 of Note 31 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 11/20 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:21 PM (Cont.) last to be born as a man and then to be born in a harder childbirth, which consists of being born in relation to others." The premature death of Jacques's (and Camus's) fathers, the omnipresence of illness and misfortune in their families' worlds, the constant threat of violence from insurgent Arabs - all combined to reinforce Camus's sense of mortality, his awareness of man's precarious position in an indifferent universe, just as his own family's poverty and the gross injustices he witnessed between the French and Arab populations helped galvanize his sensitivity to society's injustices. The other dominant emotion in "The First Man" is Jacques's (and Camus's) enduring love for their native Algeria, a beautiful but unforgiving land that would occupy a place in their hearts forever. That country is movingly memorialized in this book, its brilliant colors, spectral light and lush scents conjured up for the reader in luxuriant and minute detail. Indeed, the love for Algeria that Camus communicates in these pages goes far in explaining just why - for all his sympathy with the Arab cause - he was unable to commit to Algerian independence, a development that would have meant the permanent loss, in his mind, of his childhood home. It was the Algeria of his youth, then, that shaped Camus the writer, and the Algeria he could not forget that helped determine his political fate. Or, as T.S. Eliot might have put it: In his beginning was his end. In his end was his beginning. Copyright 1995 The New York Times =============== Reply 51 of Note 31 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 11/20 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:27 PM Yes, Barbara, I have it and am reading it. Will get back to you when I am further into it. Sherry =============== Reply 52 of Note 31 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 11/20 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 9:59 PM Sherry, Wonderfully enlightening article! Thanks for posting it. >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 53 of Note 31 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 11/20 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:02 PM Barbara: An excellent desciption of Camus/Ward's writing: "clean". So sharp and hard-edged; reminded me visually of another warm, desert climate: New Mexico, where the colors are so well defined. I do wonder how we tell where the sharpness of Camus ends and the edge of Ward picks up. Jane, could you possibly, pretty please, give us a French paragraph (the ulimate or penultimate would be interesting to me, but anything would do), and then give us the translation with some commentary and inserts on possible alternative translation schemes? I know that's a lot of work to ask of you, but, after all it would be a kind of sharing -- with those of us who took bowling four times instead of sticking with those language sessions. Even a sentence would be good.... Dick in Alaska who's feeling his lack of education =============== Reply 54 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/20 From: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Time: 10:46 PM Okay, consigliere: So, it seems there are two sides to this absurdity recognition deal. Side one is observing the "gentle indifference of the world" and side other is the view that "To stay or go, it amounted to the same thing". It is the former you see as liberating, it is the latter I see as paralyzing. And it is his recognition of the former that makes me feel some sympathy for Mersault and his inability to get out ot the mire of the latter that made me want to throttle him. And why did I want Mersault, in his defense, to be able to do what I couldn't stand OJ Simpson doing in his? -Divina =============== Reply 55 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/20 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:49 PM Steve, Richard, Dale, and all, I have been thoroughly enjoying your posts! But Sir R., I need to correct you on one thing. The French do not refer to the Algerians as "pied noir". This term is used to describe a French person who was born in Africa, and such a person uses the name with pride. I have several "pied noir" friends, and one of them wears a necklace that has a black foot dangling from it. Secondly, I still disagree about the heat. In the French version the description of the heat at the mother's funeral, on the beach, and during the trial comes across so strongly that I have my students marks all of the passages pertaining to heat. To give a few examples from the beach scene, I will quote in French and then give my pitiful translation. When the three men take a walk right after lunch, C. says, "Le soleil tombait presque d'aplomb sur le sable et son eclat sur la mer etait insoutenable." (The sun was falling almost straight down on the sand and its glare was almost unbearable). Later when M. returns to the beach by himself, C. describes, "Mais la chaleur etait telle qu'il m'etait penible aussi de rester immobile sous la pluie aveuglante qui tombait du ciel." (But the heat was such that it was painful also for me to remain immobile under the blinding rain which was falling from the sky.) There is adjective after adjective building up the heat sensation and the resulting confusion of M. When M. approaches the spring and sees the Arab, he says that all he would have to do is turn around, but an entire beach vibrating in the sun is pushing him. The spring seems so inviting. Heat is an extenuating circumstance!! Oui, Oui!! Jane who is glad to be discussing this great work with you. Dick, I wrote this off line, so there is some French. Is there a particular section you would like me to post. P.S.S. The final scene with the cries of hatred, I think, means that it is much easier to leave the world with no attachments. The hatred makes M. much stronger. =============== Reply 56 of Note 31 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 11/20 From: BUYS59A BARBARA HILL Time: 11:18 PM A few comments after reading Part One of The Stranger. Mersault is alienation personified maybe anomie and apathy would fit too. Because of his alienation his mothers death is like a non-happening. He is attached only to transitory sensory experiences. The reference to things "official" by one of the CRs seemed to reflect the meaninglessness of rituals and the travel-time thing showed him as often being in a void. I know very little about sociopaths but my dictionary describes them as aggressively antisocial and this doesn't quite fit Mersault's M.O. "The absurd man (and I'm quoting here) sees his actions as purposeless and mechanical. They take on a comical, nonsensical aspect." The line "it wasn't my fault" appears a number of times in Part One and I'm wondering why M. even thinks of fault when nothing makes sense in his absurd world, and why he often is apologizing for his remarks, or embarrassed, in that same world? Barb Hill =============== Reply 57 of Note 31 =================  
To: BUYS59A BARBARA HILL Date: 11/20 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 11:57 PM This has been the best discussion in a long time. I hope to start rereading this book soon, but in the meantime DICK AND STEVE, your discussion has been will be a wonderful background for a book I really didn't understand the first time around. You two are certainly two of the most intelligent members of CR. (Of course we're ALL intelligent.) And GAIL (pardon the caps) thanks so much for the interesting background info. And everybody else, I have been SO IMPRESSED with this discussion. Ruth, who thanks you all for your wonderful support =============== Reply 58 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/21 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 0:04 AM Dale, Your comment about Camus's "passionate unbelief" brings to mind one of Judge Holden's comments from BLOOD MERIDIAN: Your heart longs to be told some mystery. The mystery is that there is no mystery. Or something like that. I'm paraphrasing. --DJP, who's glad that Edwin T. Arnold has just written a piece asserting that the voice of the narrator in BLOOD MERIDIAN isn't Judge Holden but rather Tobin, the so-called ex-priest. I'm sleeping better nights. And yes, Strunk and White do say always use the "'s" as the possessive of singular names, with a few notable exceptions. Like "Christ," which they assert should never be used in the to rephrase. =============== Reply 59 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/21 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 0:04 AM Steve, Just guessing, since I haven't read THE STRANGER, but could M's wish to have people hootin' and hollerin' at his execution indicate that he wishes for a SIGN that he a) is not alone in the world, and b) that his actions DO matter, at least to someone. Wouldn't he wish for his life not to be absurd, even if he knows logically that it is? --DJP =============== Reply 60 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/21 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 0:04 AM Steve old chap! Long time no see...still waiting for you (and a few others, BTW) to give your commentary on my alleged fictional piece. But my query here is does TEH STRANGER relate with/compare to/alter etc. Percy's THE MOVIEGOER? Just thought I'd ask you assuming you've read the thing...anyone else, jump in. DJP, who is STILL having modem problems and has decided it's the phone company's fault. BTW, you guys have been busy this evening (mistyped that last and said you had been "busty" this evening--now THAT would be shocking). =============== Reply 61 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/21 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 0:35 AM Mlle. Jeanne: You are quite right that 'pied noir' is a term applicable to French colonial North Africans (as opposed to Arabs or Blacks), and I have no doubt that now-a-days (and even formerly) the term is something of a badge of honor among survivng and ex-colonialists. However, in the bad old days, before the cease fire negotiated at Evian-les-Bains (and for some time thereafter) it was a derogatory term in Metropolitan France, sort of "cou rouge" if you will (the perils of a translating with your dictionary become apparent...) And MANY thanks for the translations; please give us some more if you're up to it; this casts more light (and heat) on the heat issue. Have you ever been truly scrod-faced with red wine on a hot, burning day? I remember once on the shores of the Chesapeake, 4th of July give or take a day, where the tannin and alcohol, plus Bre'r Sun, had me heaved up close to the edge. You will recall Meursault's alcohol consumption over lunch, and, further how he was not particulary steady as a drinker (for example, his tiddly evening with Raymond). Not a defense to murder, exactly, but possibly a mitigator. Problem was, the poor sod was so inarticulate. If only Camus could have spoken for him, but put his heart in it.... Dick in Alaska, where the pups are getting fat, sassy and delightful; if the scanner machine works, I'll post a picture soon =============== Reply 62 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/21 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 1:42 AM Jane, that "tombaint" really did something for me, too; I know it as the Italian "tomba", which in addition to meaning tomb is also a form of the verb for falling, apparently falling catastrophically or devastatingly from the way it is always used in opera. Yes, seeing the thing in French, though I have but imperfect knowledge of the language, did make a difference to me. On the main theme, I see I'm going to have to contact the hopefully not too grieving widow about getting more copies of THE RED LION. This book is a further treatment of how do you deal with the inevitability of death, or other ill consequences, no matter what you do. The protagonist as a youth in his first life asks "Can't they see that death spoils life?" (Thus I rendered the clumsy Hungarian-into- English.) This is the lure that leads him first to find a magus and then to kill him to obtain the Elixir of Life. His description of the "astral" demons this plunges him amongst rival Dale's Tibetan devil visions. Eventually, by much suffering, etc. to himself and others he works his way through to a conclusion that is to me totally unacceptable. Others might feel differently. Anyway, it would be an interesting Eastern European counterpart to Camus. I suppose Maria Orsi would be more or less Camus's contemporary, though she has managed thus far to avoid both auto accidents and Stalin. I begin to appreciate more the fact that she actually liked and approved of the work I had done on her book. Cathy =============== Reply 63 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/21 From: KEXT98A TONYA PRESLEY Time: 2:49 AM ABOUT THE HEAT..... I was particularly struck by one thing in M's description of events leading to the murder - - he was wearing a jacket. After 2 or 3 pages of detailing how oppresively hot it was he says, "I gripped Raymond's gun inside my jacket". Then he continues about the heat. For some reason I couldn't forget the absurdity of wearing a JACKET on a beach in weather that sounded hot as coals. Tonya =============== Reply 64 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/21 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 6:27 AM Steve, In the interest of holiday spirit, I'll keep what I know about Santa to myself.... Peggy =============== Reply 65 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/21 From: LQYA01B HUNTEROSE SANDMAN Time: 9:43 PM Dick, Steve, and all: Wow! What a load of great notes on this thread . . . please pardon my still being in the note jotting stage. Here is an odd thing --- on pg.6 of chapter one I was shocked at Camus's use (or non-use) of specific colors in his descriptions --- example: most of the page M describes things as bright, white-washed,etc . . . also these bits; " . . .(on the coffin?) all you could see were some shiny screws." and, another reference is made to a "brightly colored scarf" the closest thing to a vivid description here are the walnut-stained planks . . . still seems to be avoiding simple/direct notation re what color something is, eh? Why? The kicker is at the bottom of the page when M slaps the technicolor switch on for one brief but potent second--- "He had nice pale blue eyes, and a reddish complexion." BAM! Like a tab of purple-micro dot kicking in. (That's a hit of acid, yes?) Is this a deliberate thing that Camus does? Still jotting, and searching for the little things . . . pale blue and/or reddish are still rather wimpy re impact, but put them together, and something almost chemical occurs. (Steve, Dick, and all . . . don't worry about spoiling my read (read it once awhile back). I would appreciate your thoughts/theories on any of these nit-pickings of mine.) Something else that leaps out at me (yes, sorry . . . still chapter.1) --- M seems to make quite a bit of concrete statements re how people REALLY feel, and what they REALLY are thinking. Remember when M states that everybody feels sorry for him, and Celeste says, "You only have one mother." ? I do not think M interprets accurately . . . perhaps, Celeste's true sympathy lies with M's mother, and she is simply expressing what a lousy son she feels M is? More statements: "She (maman) was use to it." and later, "While not an atheist, maman had never in her life given a thought to religion." Meursault knows for sure, eh? HOW? Perpective seems very significant . . . any thoughts? Hope to find fifty more notes again when I return! more later . . . Morpheus =============== Reply 66 of Note 31 =================  
To: KEXT98A TONYA PRESLEY Date: 11/21 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:54 PM Tonya, Thanks for pointing out the jacket. Even though I have read this book many times, I hadn't noticed the jacket which is "veston" in the French version. This can also be translated as a lounge jacket. Maybe it is a beach jacket?? I also want to mention M.'s two neighbors and how they ressemble each other. Both are men of violence who mistreat the ones they love or should love. It is amazing that they both really seem to like M. in spite of his indifference to them. M.'s favorite expression is "Cela m'etait egal", which translates as "It was all the same to me". What is the English translation of this in your edition? Jane who is practically a "pied noir" herself after spending ten summers in French speaking Gabon, Africa. =============== Reply 67 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/21 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:36 PM Jane & Tonya: This is all so interesting to the language impaired. A lounge jacket, eh? I visualized it as a burnt linen sports number, two button and quel wrinquelled. Suffused with auberge de odor de bodie Franceis ete. (translation: French elevator smell in the summertime). Anyway, powerful. And the neighbors -- the old man with the dog. That was such a poignant, and powerful little piece of writing. Showing the tenderness and love that can be inherent in a supercially rough (even brutal) relationship. Of course, where do you draw the line; always the question. Dick in Alaska, still fascinated to distraction by this small book =============== Reply 68 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/21 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 10:53 PM Madame Jane d'CR: In an effort to atone for my sluggish performance with the reading group of late, I've acquired both the first translation by Stewart Gilbert and the recent version by Matthew Ward. I read the latter and have been comparing it at various point to the former and am quite struck by the remarkable divergence between them. One thing that quite surprised me is that they differ even in where paragraphs break, and in some places, the order of sentences within paragraphs. I had no idea that translators are wont to take such liberties, and wonder how much else may be going on that I can't pick up on by side-by-side readings of the two English texts. To give those who have only one or the other translat- ions at hand an idea of the way the two differ, here are the opening paragraphs from each: Stewart Gilbert: Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure. The telegram from the Home says: YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday. Matthew Ward: Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: "Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours." That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday. And that's just for starters; even a cursory comparison shows whole sentences that appear in one version and not the other. I knew there'd be significant differences, but that they occur to such a degree took me rather aback. Any- way, I'd be grateful for any enlightenment you can give us on the process of translation, what the above excerpts may reveal about the two translator's approaches, and what qualities *no* translation can ever communicate. After all, it's not often we have an expert on an original text handy to explain such subtleties, and I want to make the most of this opportunity! I'll have more to say soon about the book and some of the comments that have already appeared here. Let me just put in this reaction to the book's narrator -- he seems to me like a human equivalent of a negative number: even if you added something to him, you'd still have nothing. <> =============== Reply 69 of Note 31 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 11/22 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 7:51 PM greetings BARBARA... oh yes..THE FIRST MAN is hot on the book selves...there was a review in THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW a week or two ago....... gail..a passionate reader in a stunning day in SAN FRANCISCO 68-70.....HAPPY THANKSGIVING =============== Reply 70 of Note 31 =================  
To: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Date: 11/22 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:03 PM Allen, Ward's translation is much closer to the French. If I were to translate this passage I would say: Today, Mom died. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. I received a telegram from the home: 'Mother deceased. Burial tomorrow. Distinguished feelings.' It means nothing. It was maybe yesterday. This is an extremely literal translation, seeing as howe don't say "distinguished feelings" to close a letter. We would probably say "Faithfully yours" as Ward translate. Here is the French text: Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-etre hier, je ne sais pas. J'ai recu un telegramme de l'asile:"Mere decedee. Enterrement demain. Sentiments distigues." Cela ne veut rien dire. C'etait peut-etre hier. I did a little more research on "veston". I think that Camus meant suit jacket. Another dictionary that I checked said that "veston" meant suit jacket in American English and lounge jacket in English English. So, Dick, I think you might be right about the stinky linen jacket. Jane who is busy cooking for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving , dear CR friends!! =============== Reply 71 of Note 31 =================  
To: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Date: 11/23 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 9:39 AM Allen, thank you for taking the trouble to post excerpts from these two translations side by side. And thank you also, Jane, for your efforts. This is amazing! Troubling, as a matter of fact. One can't help but wonder how much of the Dostoyevski one has read was lost in translation, for example. In this case I am going to see if I can find a copy of THE STRANGER in French and see if I can struggle through a few chapters to try to get the feel of the original. There is certainly no question in my mind which of these English translations that I prefer. From the Bunker. 11/23/95 8:08AM CT =============== Reply 72 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/23 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 5:44 PM Steve, there is a book company here in Denver that you can order foreign language books from. It is called Western Continental Book Co. If you want the address and phone, let me know. I would send you one of my copies, but they belong to the school. Jane who is enjoying the smell of the turkey cooking as it wafts through the house. (This is the only group that I dare use the word waft to) =============== Reply 73 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/23 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 7:14 PM greetings MADEMOISELLE JANE... good word..wafts...HAVEN'T HEARD IT ..IN AGES....keep those beauties coming... finished THE i am reading all the notes... gail..a passionate reader in wind..SAN FRANCISCO.. =============== Reply 74 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/23 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 10:48 PM Herewith, a few comments on THE STRANGER and the many fine posts that have already appeared: First, on the distinction between absurdism and exist- entialism: as I understand it, they both begin with the premise that life, the universe, and everything have no purpose that is at all discernable to man. The essential difference is in how they react to this: the existentialist acknowledges that the only meaning in life is that which we create, and believes thatit's *worth* doing so -- you must fight the good fight. The absurdist, on the other hand, merely says. "Why bother? We're all going to wind up dead anyway." The former approach is active, positive, and courageous; the latter merely lazy and cowardly. You might illustrate it this way: an absurdist and an existentialist each come across a book with THE MEANING OF LIFE on the cover, and open it to find that all the pages blank. The absurdist tosses the book aside and wanders aimlessly on, while the existentialist says, "Ah! Here's my chance to write my own book!" I think Steve was spot on when he said that Mersault is an example of precisely the wrong way to respond to the lack of obvious meaning in existence. The character strikes me as someone to whom absurdism is a way of life, rather than a mere intellectual pose -- and he's a virtual cipher, a hollow being, a blank page of a man. To actually make absurdism your life's philosophy, you'd have to be missing an awful lot of what it takes to be human, which causes me to conclude that no one, really, is a deep-down absurdist. Do you think that M, faced with the hypothetical choice between a short, painful life and a long, happy one would say, "Makes no difference to me."? If he's to be consistent to his "philosopy," that has to be his response, but it's obviously a mad one. So I don't find Mersault at all sympathetic, or even a believable character. To me he's more of a literary construct than someone you can imagine as really existing. On the question of why M. killed the Arab: I'm not even going to try to puzzle this one out, becuase I think Camus's purpose was to leave it a mystery. Mersault him- self doen't know why he did it, and AC (as far as I can tell) doesn't put in enough clues for us to fit together to find an answer. Indeed, if there was any explanation of "why" of the murder, the book would fall apart. In a novel whose theme is pointlessness, the central act about which everything revolves, to be effective, must be the absolute epitome of pointlessness. Since Morpheus found all these little bits and pieces of interest embedded in the text that I totally missed, I thought I should try and find at least one. Well, how about this: In the cafe, and later at his trial, Mersault observes someone he descibes as the "little robot woman" busily scribbling notes to some unknown purpose. Who is she, and what's her reason for being in the novel? As far as the plot goes, there is none; no connection between her two appearances, or anything else about her, is given. A non-absurdist novelist couldn't get away with this --in "regular" novles you don't just go putting in peculiar characters for no reason. She just seems to be there, as the universe itself is "just there." It also serves as an example of M's way of attending to everything with about the same degree of interest; he has no particular reason to tell us about this woman, but no reason not to, either. To Mersault, all things are of equal value, which is about the same as saying that nothing is of value at all. Thanks for all the fine notes we've had in this thread, and also to Steve for nominating THE STRANGER. The perfect book for a BB discussion -- easy to find and quick to read, but not so easy to fathom, and with much meaning to be mined from it! Allen =============== Reply 75 of Note 31 =================  
To: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Date: 11/24 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 4:25 PM Allen: Enjoyed your note on the distinctions between existentialism and absurdity; the life-as-blank-book analogy makes wonderful sense and will stick with me a long time, I believe. I'm looking forward to starting ANGLE OF REPOSE, >>Dale, finally reposing thankfully at a very slack angle after the rounds of Family Thanksgiving II in Ala. =============== Reply 76 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/24 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 4:29 PM Jane: Great word, "waft." I'll have to find an excuse to use it in a manuscript, soon. Before the Camus thread begins winding down in preparation for Stegner, I'd appreciate it if you could give me a "literal" translation, if such a request makes sense, of Meursault's line from the ending of THE STRANGER that Ward renders as "For the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world." Thanks! >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 77 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/24 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 4:45 PM I read THE STRANGER last Wednesday afternoon. It was much easier going than I remember the first go round to have been. Perhaps the new translation? I had a great fascination with the existentialists when I was younger, and some of it still lingers. However, this is a disturbing book, and left me feeling disoriented for the rest of the day. Mersault seems to me to be more numb than callous. Unable to feel, rather than unwilling. But I'm not sure how this works into the scheme of things. About the trial, am I the only one to have felt I stepped right into Alice in Wonderland? Ruth, who needs to mull over this for a while =============== Reply 78 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/24 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:44 PM Dale, I am oh so glad to oblige. Here is the French "Comme si cette grande colere m'avait purge du mal, vide d'espoir, devant cette nuit chargee de signes et d'etoiles, je m'ouvrais pour la premiere fois a la tendre indifference du monde." Literal English - " As if this great anger had purged me of evil, emptied me of hope, before this night loaded with signs and stars, I opened myself for the first time to the tender indifference of the world." I find the sentence just before this one to be significant, "Et moi aussi, je me suis senti pret a tout revivre." And myself also, I felt ready to relive everything. M. felt liberated by his approaching death. Allen, I feel that the scene with the robotic woman was put there to show M.'s powers of observation. I guess I am more sympathic to his character than the first few times that I read this book. Perhaps you should read THE MYTH OF SYSIPHUS in order to understand C.'s view of existentialism. Sartre believed in being "engaged" in one's life, and C. believed that just being alive was enough. Jane who is a big fan of CR discussions. =============== Reply 79 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/24 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 11:02 PM Jane: Many thanks for the translation. A beautiful line, in either language. One more question: I guess the word "signs" is what throws me a bit, because I assume it's in the sense of "portents," which seems to be something that would more aptly occur to a person who's either religious or superstitious, neither of which Mersault strikes me as being. Is there another context for "signs" I'm missing, or do you think this was actually a "sign" that he was paradoxically opening himself to a broader, perhaps even spiritual, view of the world? >>Dale, fascinated by THE STRANGER in Ala. =============== Reply 80 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/25 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 0:48 AM I confess I approach this subject from a different slant altogether. When you tell me of a person speaking and responding as Mersault did, the first thing I think is "serious mental health problem" - not what philosophy he came from. I've known enough disturbed people one way and another to have seen some with similar symptoms. For instance, I knew a young man who seemed to enjoy being hated and reviled, as Mersault wanted to be at his execution. Self hatred, or a feeling that hatred is better than indifference ? I can't say which, but both may be mixed in there somewhere. Cathy =============== Reply 81 of Note 31 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 11/25 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 9:49 AM Ruth: I, too, felt THE STRANGER took on a definite surreal edge when Meursault hit the court system. (But then, I've had more than one court experience myself where I actually glanced around to see if Mr. Funt's Candid Camera was present for the proceedings.) I was most unprepared when Meursault's seemingly low-key magistrate, in exasperation, grabs the crucifix from his filing cabinet and shakes it at the interviewee. Odd echoes of old vampire movies there, I think. One part that really sticks with me is when the judge shouts at him, "Do you want my life to be meaningless?" Very illuminating of a certain "religious" mindset that still exists (flourishes, actually, but don't get me started) nowadays. So many well-meaning people undertake the onstensibly unselfish goal of encouraging right behavior or converting the heathen, or whatever, when underneath there's a terrifyingly rabid self-interest involved, i.e. protecting one's view of the universe's "meaning," and hence once's ego, from becoming unraveled. Small wonder that reasonable debate is out of the question at that point, or that so many folks go off the deep end in the face of the world's "gentle indifference." >>Dale, for whom all this strikes a real nerve, in Ala. =============== Reply 82 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/25 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:38 AM Dale: It may be fully apparent to everyone, but I wanted to add a comment about Meursault's trial in terms of the French justice system. They view the role of judge and attorney rather differently than do we -- with the objective being to ascertain "the truth" and not merely avoid conviction of the innocent or the achievement of "justice" on the societal level. To this end (viz., "truth") the magistrates make endless preliminary investigations of the crime -- as was the case here. Although we aren't given many details, it seemed to me that Meursault had already, by the time of trial, given the court chapter and verse on his sweaty, sun drenched trudge down the beach as well as whatever additional light he could shed on the shooting itself. That this information was singularly unhelpful to the magistrates and to the lawyers is evidenced by the fact that they waunder through the peripheral issues at trial, examining Meursault's character via a review of his funeral conduct, and of his personal life (they sure seemed upset at a little hanky-panky for a bunch of French guys, didn't they? Is it possible there are conservative, keep it in your pants Frenchmen, or are there just more aggressive hypocrites?) Anyway, to me Camus's point here was twofold: the justice system was doing as it was intended, looking for causation and truth, under every rock and in every corner, while Meursault is setting there saying, in effect, "There is no truth or causuation in these events, they merely ARE." In the end, since the system demands causation and truth in some form, they are created out of the bits and pieces of Meursault's former life, and used as the justification for his execution, even if, when viewed in isolation such bits and pieces are an absurd basis for the taking of a life. Dick in a frigid Alaska =============== Reply 83 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/25 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 11:53 AM Dick: Wonderful note on the mechanics of M's trial; very enlightening to me. The authorities WILL have their causation and truth, won't they? I loved the, pardon the expression, gallows humor when Meursault is listening to the judge and attorneys doing their jobs and keeps thinking, "Hey, I'm the criminal, here; when do I get to talk?" But even then, he's realist enough to know that "Whatever interest you can get people to take in you doesn't last very long." Heavy, heavy book. >>Dale in clear and chilly Ala. =============== Reply 84 of Note 31 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 11/25 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:40 PM Dale, Here are the definitions of "signe" fr my HARRAPS dictionary (a British English dictionary). "sign 1. Indication (of rain, grief); symptom (of illness); mark, token (of friendship) Ne pas donner signe de sa vie, to show no sign of life. 2. Symbol, mark. S. algebrique, algebraical sign. S.a.croix I. 3.(Distinctive) mark (on the body). Adm: signesparticuliers, special peculiarities (of a person). 4. Gesture, motion. Signe de tete, nod Signe des yeux, wink. Faire sign a quelqu'un, (i) to motion s.o., make a sign to s.o.; (ii) to beckon to s.o., faire s. a qn de faire qch., to sign s.o. to do sth. faire s. que oui. to make an affirm. sign. En sign de respect, as a token of respect. Dick, You forgot to mention that in the French judicial system, people are considered guilty until proven innocent which is the opposite of our system. Jane who is having a heck of a time typing today. =============== Reply 85 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/26 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:39 AM Mlle. Jeanne: The reason there is no presumption of innocence under the Code d'Instruction Criminelle or the Penal Code, is that the by the time you are charged in France the magistrates, prosecutors and police (all working hand in glove) have gathered sufficient evidence to convict you; while that evidence is rebuttable at trial by the defendant, it is not deemed 'potential' evidence as it might be here in the states -- it's solid proof in the hands of the state that you are guilty. If the state is going to the trouble of putting you to a public trial (no jury in France or indeed in most continental criminal systems) they're not going to leave much to chance. My impression is that acquittals are rather rare in France.... Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that while continental systems are pretty harsh by American standards, it's not quite correct that people are presumed guilty -- there has to be proof, but once there is proof, you're in a world of mal. Dick in Alaska at 5 below =============== Reply 86 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/26 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 4:00 PM Actually, Dick, wouldn't one be in le monde de (or is it du) merde? Vulgarly from Memphis, --DJP =============== Reply 87 of Note 31 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 11/26 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 4:49 PM Marty: that sure captures the spirit of my comment; how about le merde profond? I'm at the mercy of my tattered copy of Cassell's French-English in these matters, heretofor used exclusively for the Times crossword and the odd gallicism in my reading material. Now of course, I'm exposed to all the francophiles on this board, and I practically sleep with the thing. Anyway, you get my tendance? And please feel free to jump in here -- I'm doing an awful job explaining French criminal law and any add-ons would be appreciated. Dick in Alaska where the Christmas stuff has been hauled out by the kis, according to the wife, but I think she put 'em up to it. =============== Reply 88 of Note 31 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 11/26 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 9:45 PM Dear All, I'd like to hear some discussion about the issue I raised in my previous post, that of what I saw as Meursalt's emotional numbness, his inability to feel anything. It takes impending death to breath through this barrier. How does this emotional desert relate to existentialist/absurdist theory or is it just something I, alone, read into the book? Reading, I was completely unable to care what happened to Meursalt. How could I empathize with someone who has no feelings? But I couldn't hate him either. Do you think this is the reaction that Camus wanted from the reader? Dick? Steve? Jane? Ruth, in Redlands, who, even though she speaks no French, is in heaven with the new Edith Piaf CD she bought today (Piaf is so FRENCH)and wonders if Jane is also a fan =============== Reply 89 of Note 31 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 11/26 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 11:27 PM Now Ruthie, nobody is ignoring you. In fact I just checked in here rather late simply to read the posts with no intention whatsoever of writing anything myself . I really should be packing in anticipation of a VERY early Monday morning departure for Chicago to try to earn a buck. However, I can't bear this plaintive plea I read here: "Dick? Steve? Jane?" I really don't think that Mersault inspires a lot of sympathy or even empathy in any reader, Ruthie. Nor do I think that Camus had any conscious intention to portray anything through Mersault other than the absurdity and irrationality of this world, although far be it from me to attempt to read the mind of a twenty-eight year old Albert Camus. I do still feel that given a little more reading of his later work, one can only conclude that Camus himself ended by campaigning against just the sort of impassivity and unemotional "acceptance" of the absurd that Mersault displayed. As for Edith Piaf, "The Voice of the Sparrow," you display rare good taste, Ruthie. Mine is entitled THE VERY BEST OF EDITH PIAF, and it gets a lot of play around here--not just for show by a long shot. I must admit that I am part of the masses in the sense that my favorite still is and probably always will be "La Vie en Rose." What a tune, and what a perfect voice for it! By the way amid my extra credit reading in connection with THE STRANGER thread, I ran across a short essay by an old favorite of mine, Morris Bishop, commenting on the role of literature in French society and contrasting that with the role of literature in American society. I know you would find it thought provoking and interesting. I am taking the liberty of transcribing it and sending it to you via e-mail as soon as I return in about six days. Certainly, if anyone else is interested, I will be happy to add others to the distribution list if they will just drop me a brief e-mail note in the meantime. To be honest with you, Ruthie, this is all just a cheap attempt to curry favor with you in the hope that you will help me get my hands on a copy of your volume of poetry. You have given me a tiny sip, and now I am cut off and desperate. La belle dame sans merci, if ever there was one! From the Bunker. 11/26/95 10:26PM CT =============== Reply 90 of Note 31 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 11/27 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:50 PM Ruth, I don't know if I feel that M. is actually numb. To me he is an observer of life and a very objective one at that. Remember that Camus wrote THE MYTH OF SYSIPHUS at the same time as he did L'ETRANGER. Sysiphus had the horrendous job of pushing the stone up the hill each day and watching it roll back each night. For Camus at this time in his life, t this was enough. To be alive was enough. M. is kind of like Sysiphus in that 'to be alive is enough'. He did love the physical side of life - making love to Marie and swimming and laughing at movies. But you are right. It wouldn't be enough for me. My students and I always discuss M.'s talking about being stuck in a tree with only the sky to look at, and how reading the same article over and over, and how remembering each detail of his room at home wouldn't be enough for us. It was enough for M. and for Sysiphus as well. Perhaps it was C.'s way of rejecting Sartre's idea, that life must be given meaning by becoming engaged in it. I do feel a certain sympathy for M. Jane in Colorado where it has been snowing all day. =============== Reply 91 of Note 31 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 11/29 From: GGTZ54D HUNTEROSE SANDMAN Time: 8:25 PM Dear CR's: For the kitty of criticism I found a few bits Re: L' ETRANGER . . . "Camus's thought did not stop with the absurd treatise, THE MYTH OF SISPHUS. In the post war years he moved away from the atomistic veiw of man (the individual in independant revolt, as in THE STRANGER) toward an emphasis on human solidarity in the revolt against the irrational (represented as suffering in THE PLAGUE) We might say that Camus became "socialized," or at any rate more humanistic, in the *modern sense . Although few could accept the Absurd equilibrium as a pattern for living, and although Camus's solution is perhaps too tainted by his own personality to have universal validity, his insight into the basic problems of being human is very keen, and its literary expression is undeniably beautiful." Robert S. Tate, Jr., "The Concept of Absurd Equilibrium in the early essays of Albert Camus," in The South Atlantic Quarterly (1971 Duke University) summer pp. 377-85 Good stuff, yes? Morpheus in Atlanta *copyright 1973 Gale research company


Albert Camus

When I teach the absurd I use the works of Ionesco, because he depicts the world as an absurd place, where nothing has any meaning. I suppose that Camus carries this thought somewhat further, but I really think he is an existentialist. To me there seems to be a lot more humor in absurd literature than in existentialism.
It is apparent that the actual facts surrounding the murder of the Arab, played no part in the determination of Mersault's fate in those judicial proceedings. Rather his perceived attitude toward the death of his mother determined his fate.
The line "it wasn't my fault" appears a number of times in Part One and I'm wondering why M. even thinks of fault when nothing makes sense in his absurd world, and why he often is apologizing for his remarks, or embarrassed, in that same world?
Barb Hill

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