There are those among my reader(sic) that believe my love of Albert Camus comes from a teenager’s desire for pretentious chic or, at best, some sort of angsty, pseudo-philosophical hankering. ( And anyway, if I had wanted to be pretentious for the sake of it, I was reading Ionesco too in those days, and you only read that in French. Sadly, this is no longer an option.)
There has to be an element of that in that somewhere. Not least because I had read pretty much everything he had ever written by the age of 17 or so and there is no doubt I didn’t understand much of the more philosophical stuff (The Rebel, Myth of Sisyphus etc). But it did all sound cool when you read it.
Perhaps I will have a go at such philosophy again one day but for now I am re-reading L’Etranger (The Outsider, or The Stranger if you prefer) and La Peste (The Plague). I’m currently half-way through The Outsider (my Penguin edition still in very good condition and bearing the sticker inside that testifies that I bought it after winning an Engineering prize at school, which is altogether a very distant memory).
I decided to re-read them as I plan to embark on writing Terra Exitus sometime this year and I wanted to read something very bare to see, florid as I am, if I could have a slight style adjustment.
Without doubt, Camus is the most stripped down prose you could read. This could be related to the translation but, get ready for the sigh Stuart, having read it in French I think its just like that. The text doesn’t really flow, its quite choppy and what comes across most is the sheer simplicity of it. And therein lies the tale, there is no way I could even think about trying to write in anything like that style, it would drive me mad. So, I’m not going to try, don’t get me wrong though, Terra Exitus will be far from cheery.
Still, it has been great to go back to over 20 years since I first read it. And the important thing is, that for all its simplicity and starkness, I still love it. I’m very much looking forward to La Peste now which, for all its chill outlook on the ‘human condition’ is by far the best book I have ever read. I would encourage everyone to read it.
Website of the Day:
Ball in a Cup Vid – I admire the dedication it took to make this and because of the ‘Box Game’ we used to play at University