The Stranger

One of the many literary influences upon my writing is the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus. I taught it for many years in AP English, and both its style and content have thoroughly imbued my writing bones. First, it has an apt title. The main character, Meursault, usually strikes the reader as a “stranger” in that he doesn’t respond to social cues the way most of us do. For example, he doesn’t feel remorse at the death of his mother, he’s apparently indifferent to marrying his girlfriend Marie, he commits a murder in an almost casual manner and he’s a relatively uninterested participant in his own trial for that murder. Ultimately, society condemns him, but I’m not so sure most readers do. Likewise, in TK Eddy may strike some readers as a stranger: he makes no real attempt to save his marriage, he often lashes out in anger, he’s an atheist and he sometimes hurts those who try to help him. However, I suspect he’s more sympathetic to the reader than Meursault and, therefore, I don’t believe most will condemn him. In Eddy, I tried to create a character who both frustrates the reader and yet makes him/her root for him. Secondly, I really enjoy Camus’ writing style. His sentences are short; his dialogue, spare; his descriptions, brief. He sparely employs the use of figures of speech, adjectives and adverbs. My style tends toward minimalism, as does Camus’ in The Stranger, but I wouldn’t consider myself to be a minimalist. I would, though, describe my style as “spare.” And finally, even though Camus himself rejected the notion he was an existentialist writer, I embrace it–not in the nihilistic sense, but rather the quasi-Romantic sense. More on this later.

Quote of the Day:

“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” Anaïs Nin

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