By Chet Yarbrough
Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
The Stranger evokes depression and denial from realists and optimists. Albert Camus brilliantly captures the character of a nihilist (one who believes there are no meaningful aspects of life). The narrator, Johnathan Davis, uses a monotone voice to tell Camus’s story. This may have been an artistic decision but it detracts from the impact of the book. Camus’s main character, Meursault, lives life as though living is an absurd existence, an existence that demands nothing, gives nothing, and means nothing. Meursault’s view of life is monochromatic and deserves a monotone delivery. However, people around Meursault, in Camus’s story, live life differently. The difference is missed because Davis’s monotone delivery obscures the contrast.
Meursault is a person that has no strong opinions. He lives moment-to-moment. He enjoys the sensual pleasures of life but as moment to moment experiences rather than meaningful episodes of life. To Meursault, there are no obligations incurred or lessons learned by experiencing life. Meursault goes along to get along; without objective and without purpose. He has friends because it is convenient; he has lovers because it is pleasurable. Friends and lovers of Meursault are friends and lovers because they choose that role not because Meursault chooses them.
Events make Meursault a murderer. He does not choose to be a murderer just as he does not choose to be a friend or lover. Society chooses to make Meursault a murderer and sentences him to death. Prior to execution, a priest insists Meursault should seek forgiveness from God. Meursault believes there is no God and refuses to ask for forgiveness. Meursault is reinforcing his belief that life has no meaning. Camus tells readers/listeners life is a meaningless number of moment to moment experiences that begin at birth and end at death, signifying nothing.
Camus makes flesh the source of psychopaths, murderers, and sociopaths while suggesting justice can be as easily misguided by realists and optimists as by nihilists. There are strangers in this world. One wonders how many suffer from depression because of Camus’s view of life.