L’Etranger is a short novel written by Albert Camus and it was first published in 1942 in Oran by Gallimard.
Albert Camus was born in Algiers, Algeria, on November 7th, 1913, the second child of a soldier who was killed in World War I when Albert Camus was just one year old. The last work of Camus, Le premier homme, was just written in memory of his father. Unfortunately, Camus died from a traffic accident on January 4th, 1960, before the book was finished.
L’Etranger is divided into two parts and is composed of eleven chapters altogether. The hero of the book, Meursault, is known for his indifference to the world. He did not weep when he received the telegram telling him that his mother had died. He was unwilling to open the coffin to have a glance at his mother. He even smoked and had coffee by his mother’s coffin. After his mother was buried, he went swimming, went to movie with Marie, his girlfriend, and returned his residence with her for night. He agreed when his neighbor who was a rascal asked him to write a letter to wreak his mistress since he thought there was no reason to disappoint him. He showed no enthusiasm when his boss suggested he go to Paris to launch a branch office. He regarded Paris as an unsatisfactory place although almost everyone else was longing for developing there. He said OK when Marie expressed her wish to marry him. But when Marie asked whether he loved her or not, he said “maybe not”. At last, he killed a person unintentionally. He was not concerned about the accusation and the defense in the courthouse but he thought his attorney’s talent was not so excellent as the judge’s. Faced with the capital punishment, he even thought he had been and was happy. He also hoped that there would be enough people to show their hatred to him since he was not willing to be lonely when he was going to be put to death.
Readers always feel indignant and astonished because of Meursault’s passive attitude towards life, his dull reflection to the people and matters surrounding him, his nonchalance to the values people comply with and his strong demand for instinctive satisfaction. Actually Meursault is well-educated and used to hold so-called “ambition”. He also feels guilty when he has done something against the conservation. He does not go by the traditional values and is not willing to tell lie or to exaggerate something. He just wants to be an honest man. In author’s opinion, Meursault is normal, sensible, and intelligent, but he is not accepted by the world. Camus used to summarize the theme of L’Etranger as follows: “Anyone who does not cry when his mother is buried will run the risk of being sentenced to death.” But why not view something from another aspect? As a matter of fact, Meursault is the one who has abandoned the society instead of the one who is abandoned by the society. He has realized the split and the absurdity between man and the world.
We have mentioned “absurdity”. L’Etranger is regarded as a philosophical novel concerning and against absurdity. Since “absurdity” is sensed, Meursault’s passiveness and indifference have got a symbolized meaning which clarifies the novel philosophically. Camus pointed out that the absurd person was the one who did not deny eternity but never did anything for eternity, which will easily remind us of Meursault. L’Etranger is a successful novel whose independent existence demonstrates a kind of relationship, the one between man and the world. The reason why this relationship attracts us so much is that it forces us to question ourselves whether the world is obscure or discernible, whether it is reasonable or irrational, whether the people living in the world are happy or painful, whether the relationship between man and the world is harmonious or contradictory… Meursault has just answered these questions by his own experiences. He pursues a truth, that is to live honestly. Just as Camus wrote in the American version, “Meursault is far from insouciant. He holds some firm and deep passion which is about pureness and honesty.”
The readers of L’Etranger may have little idea of Meursault’s appearance but it’s impossible for them to forget him. They will easily recall him under many circumstances. The age is changing. The environment is changing. The social relationship is changing. But we will always remember that there was a man named Meursault living in France or in some other similar countries during World War II or during some other periods of time.
David Herbert Lawrence (1885 -- 1930) is a world-renowned British novelist and poet. During his short life, he covered more than ten novels, three plays, several hundred poems, and a great number of reviews, novellas, and prosaic travels, which exerted a tremendous influence on the Western modern literature. In the early 20th century, after Sons and Lovers (1913), The Rainbow (1915), and Women in Love (1920), the three novels that reflected Lawrence’s unique style, were published, the young man’s incredible perceptiveness towards human inner world rocked the British criticism circles. Their praise and astonishment laid a foundation for his future standing and reputation as a novelist. However, when Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the last work in Lawrence’s life, came out, both the novel and the author were vigorously offended. The novel was regarded as a salacious story, and even Lawrence himself was fiercely criticized. It was not until 1959 and 1960 that the whole book was formally published in Britain and America respectively, since it had been grouped into banned books for quite a long time. But history is justified. As several decades went by, Lawrence as well as his work got more and more understanding, and he was exalted as one of the most creative and outstanding novelists in those days.
As a matter of fact, Lawrence was a really serious writer. Though a bedridden invalid, he remained devoted and rewrote three times his creation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. So long as people read it without any ill understanding, Lawrence would never be regarded as just showing sexual matter in a vulgar and bawdy way.
In Lawrence’s opinion, people were supposed to establish a kind of sound and complete relationship on the basis of the normal human nature so as to rescue the civilization from declination; marriage and family were the very ties used to shape such relationship. The blue-bloods of the capitalist class would easily reveal their excessive self-centeredness and sham philosophy of life because of their Mammon-worship and sense of superiority from their noble birth and social status, which brought about a sort of abnormal psychological state towards human sexual relations whose nature was the split between flesh and spirit.
In the novel, Sir Clifford Chatterley, Connie’s (Lady Chatterley) husband is poured with a symbolized meaning. Shortly after his marriage with Connie in 1917, he had himself wounded in the war so that he had to be kept in the wheelchair permanently for the rest of his life. Actually he was wounded both physically and psychologically. As a coal owner, he viewed miners as articles rather than human beings; as a husband, he viewed Connie as his possession rather than his wife. He ignored human nature and underestimated normal and independent personality, believing that sexual relation was just the vulgar demand in human life, or even a mere appendage, and that it was the status and money that really existed. Lady Chatterley could no longer bear what his husband did and thought, longing for a sound and harmonious sexual relationship and family life, therefore, she chose to betray her nominal husband. After a brief affair with Michaelis, a slim playwright who left her unsatisfied, she enjoyed an extremely passionate relationship with Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper on their estate. At last, conflicting in heart for quite a long time, Connie was at length determined to carve her way to a brand-new life with Mellors.
Lawrence held the viewpoint that the relationship between Connie and Mellors embodied the trust, sincerity, and mutual supporting peculiar to humans. They got closer due to their mutual understanding, which drove them to fall in love with each other, and finally got united in wedlock, establishing a new pattern of family relationship. They were completely equal; their personalities were mutually respected; they got balance both in spirit and in flesh.
Lawrence was meant to express by his novel that the development of the industrial civilization brought about the vicious expansion of some human desire and the inevitable loss of some natural demand. He also emphasized the essential part the plain and natural living environment played in human sentiment, which meanwhile revealed the limit in his mind: he failed to discover that compared with agricultural civilization and primitive civilization, industrial civilization was after all progressive.
“Anyone who does not cry when his mother is buried will run the risk of being sentenced to death.”

i can't agree more with this opinion.

i love my mom so much!
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Very interesting. Maybe Lawrence was fully aware of the scandal his book would cause, after all, he believed that it might have been his last novel. Lady Chatterley's Lover, enjoyed a succès de scandale that brought Lawrence and his wife Frieda some much-needed income during his final illness. It’s also interesting to read what Lawrence’s peers thought about him and his power to scandalise society. For instance, T.S. Elliot wrote, “Lawrence started life wholly free from any restriction of tradition or institution, he had no guidance except the Inner Light, the most untrustworthy and deceitful guide that ever offered itself to wandering humanity . ... A man like Lawrence, therefore, with his acute sensibility, violent prejudices and passions, and lack of intellectual and social training, is admirably fitted to be an instrument for forces of good or forces of evil.

It maybe also interesting to consider the effect that Lady Chatterley's Lover continued to have on the British establishment in the late 1950s leading to changes in English law brought about by the Obscene Publications Act in 1959. At that time, there was a worse culprit in the spotlight, Lolita by Nabokov; many believing Lolita to be a far more evil but more artistic work.

Review from amazon.com
Despite its lascivious reputation, the pleasures of Lolita are as much intellectual as erogenous. It is a love story with the power to raise both chuckles and eyebrows. Humbert Humbert is a European intellectual adrift in America, haunted by memories of a lost adolescent love. When he meets his ideal nymphet in the shape of 12-year-old Dolores Haze, he constructs an elaborate plot to seduce her, but first he must get rid of her mother. In spite of his diabolical wit, reality proves to be more slippery than Humbert's feverish fantasies, and Lolita refuses to conform to his image of the perfect lover. Playfully perverse in form as well as content, riddled with puns and literary allusions, Nabokov's 1955 novel is a hymn to the Russian-born author's delight in his adopted language. Indeed, readers who want to probe all of its allusive nooks and crannies will need to consult the annotated edition.

Lolita is undoubtedly, brazenly erotic, but the eroticism springs less from the "frail honey-hued shoulders ... the silky supple bare back" of little Lo than it does from the wantonly gorgeous prose that Humbert uses to recount his forbidden passion: She was musical and apple-sweet ... Lola the bobby-soxer, devouring her immemorial fruit, singing through its juice ... and every movement she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and to improve the secret system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty--between my gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent cotton frock.

much has been made of Lolita as metaphor, perhaps because the love affair at its heart is so troubling. Humbert represents the formal, educated Old World of Europe, while Lolita is America: ripening, beautiful, but not too bright and a little vulgar. Nabokov delights in exploring the intercourse between these cultures, and the passages where Humbert describes the suburbs and strip malls and motels of postwar America are filled with both attraction and repulsion, "those restaurants where the holy spirit of Huncan Dines had descended upon the cute paper napkins and cottage-cheese-crested salads." Yet however tempting the novel's symbolism may be, its chief delight-and power-lies in the character of Humbert Humbert. He, at least as he tells it, is no seedy skulker, no twisted destroyer of innocence. Instead, Nabokov's celebrated mouthpiece is erudite and witty, even at his most depraved. Humbert can't help it--linguistic jouissance is as important to him as the satisfaction of his arrested libido.

Review by Simon Leake
Wow, what a post! I am so glad you have read the book!
But not L’Etranger. Apparently a mix of existentialist philosophy and literature. Has anyone read Kierkegaard’s works? A very different angle on the existential maybe. I agree Maj, it’s an interesting thread. I wish there were more like it.
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i will try to read it.