PASSAGE: I head for a tried and tested book that I know will serve to yank me out of whatever state I find myself in. Which is how I came to The Outsider by Albert Campus (in the most recent translation by Joseph Laredo) for the umpteenth time. If you think you are wrung out and pissed off with life in general, the state of mind of young Meusault is guaranteed to set you right in a jiffy. From the opening scene where the bored and nihilistic youth boards a bus to attend his mothers funeral (where he does not cry, thereby damning him in the eyes of everyone present) to the final paragraphs in the book, where he lies exhausted in his cell, trying to summon up images of his own execution, The Outsider continues to be one of the greatest psychological inquiries into the kind of a man unable to comprehend the demands life makes on him. Looked at another way, Meusault typifies the uncompromising individual determined to live life on his own terms a man who in so doing upsets everyone around him as cold, heartless and unfit for decent human society. About a decade after The Outsider was published, Camus was asked about Meursault who continued to puzzle and vex readers and critics. The writer had this to say in response: A long time ago, I summed up The Outsider in a sentence which I realize is extremely paradoxical: In our society any man who doesnt cry at his mothers funeral is liable to be condemned to death. I simply meant that the hero of the book is condemned because he does not play the game. In this sense, he is an outsider to the society in which he lives, wandering on the fringe, on the outskirts of life, solitary and sensual. And for that reason, some readers have been tempted to regard him as a reject. But to get a more accurate picture of his character, or rather one which conforms more closely to his authors intentions, you must ask yourself in what way Meursault doesnt play the game. The answer is simple: he refuses to lie. Lying is not only saying what isnt true. It is also, in fact especially, saying more than one feels. We all do it, every day, to make life simpler. But contrary to appearances, Meursault doesnt want to make life simpler. He says what he is, he refuses to hide his feelings and society immediately feels threatened. For example, he is asked to say that he regrets his crime. In time-honoured fashion, he replies that he feels more annoyance about it than true regret. And it is this nuance that condemns him. In his passion to be true to himself, Meursault offends and wounds people both figuratively and literally, of course. But the author refuses to apologise for the character he has created. In his view, Meursault is not a reject, but a poor and naked man, in love with a sun which leaves no shadows. Far from lacking all sensibility, he is driven by a tenacious and therefore profound passion, the passion for an absolute and for truth. This truth is as yet a negative one, a truth born of living and feeling, but without which no triumph over the self or over the world will ever be possible. For nearly 60 years now The Outsider has been the existentialist novel against which all others have been measured. Its a tribute enough to its greatness that it has lasted so long, and to thousands of new readers everywhere, it is as fresh and as compelling as when it was first written. For me, time and again, it has proved to be a great pick-me-up. After a few hours in Meursaults company ones own dispiritedness pales into utter insignificance.
1. Camus comment on his novel, In our society any man who doesnt cry at his mothers funeral is liable to be condemned to death, is considered a paradox by the author himself. The paradox is that
A. the protagonist of the novel, Meursault is an impassive being who neither feels happy nor remorseful.
B. the protagonist refuses to hide his feelings and expresses his true feelings, negative or positive.
C. the protagonist of the novel The Outsider is a reject, an antisocial being.
D. the protagonist of the novel is tenacious and iconoclastic and doesnt heed to the true feelings of other.
E. the author didnt create the character of his novel as a personification of his own ideals.
2. Which of the following summarizes the analysts view of The Outsider?
A. The translated version of The Outsider doesnt have the character and flavour of the original.
B. It is an endeavour to probe into the state of mind of a man who is overwhelmed by the pleasures life offers him.
C. The novel is an inquiry into the hypocritical beliefs of ordinary people, depicted through its protagonist Meursault.
D. The novel is a standard against which other works of similar nature are measured.
E. The novel is an attempt to understand the social psyche of a community that is decadent and moribund.
3. Which of the following words used in the passage best explains the significance of The Outsider?
A. Compelling and fresh. B. Nihilistic and uncompromising.
C. Demanding and paradoxical. D. Simple and dogmatic.
E. Dispirited and triumphant.
4. Which of the following is not true of the critics interpretation of Camus?
A. Camus doesnt express his intentions through the protagonist of his novel.
B. Meursault could easily be comprehended by readers as a social reject.
C. Camus character Meursault can easily degenerate into the hypocrisy of present day prudishness.
D. An ordinary reader would find it difficult to interpret the character Meursault.
E. Camus novels are read once and forgotten as it fails to create the magic usually seen in existentialistic writings.