Competition Entry Folio Society - The Outsider

The Outsider (Strangers)
by Albert Camus

Competition entry for the folio society

The Outsiders, set in 1940's France, deals with issues of existentialism and the 'Absurdity of life'. The concept that every person is responsible for their own being and attaching meaning. To live passionately and sincerely in spite of many external obstacles and distracts like despair anger and boredom.
Throughout  the book Camus talks of the futileness of life and the absurdity of the human condition to find rational meaning within an irrational world.

opening scene where the protagonist Meursault is called to the retirement home where his mother has just passed away. Meursault is a detached and irrational character, feeling no pain for his dead mother as he sees no point in doing so. People are born, they live and then they die. After death there is nothing else and you fall back into nonexistence. Throughout the book the Church or Christianity represents the ordered society, and the way that humanity strives to place meaning on an irrational world. It is the opposite to Meursaults free life and is seen as an almost oppressive force.
In this image I have tried to remove any emotional attachment to the scene - the black rectangle of the coffin beneath the power of the rigid and geometric Church. The idea that it doesn't matter where or how his mother is buried, the simple fact is that she is dead.

This scene is where Meursault shoots dead an Arab who fought his friend. It is a strange part of the story, where again no emotional attachment is made by the character but he comments on the blinding hot sun and his mild heat stroke as a reason for killing the man who is lying by the rock. One shot kills him but Meursault continues to fire 4 more times for no obvious reason. Later on in the book this is seen as a sinister action as he continues to shoot bullets into the dead man. But it is more to do with the idea that the man is dead, one bullet or five will make no difference.

The final scene of the book is looking forward to the execution of Meursauly by guillotine. He finally realises the absurdity of life and how it is foolish to cling to life. Every man must die at some point and death is the only certainty within an irrational world. He finally come to terms with his death and this realization sets him free. In the face of his immanent death Meursault finds the strength to love life. Ironically it is his execution that opens the door to life in Meursault's mind.

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