What we're about
Upcoming events (5)
L’Étranger (The Outsider [UK], or The Stranger [US]) is a 1942 novel by French author Albert Camus. Its theme and outlook are often cited as examples of Camus's philosophy of the absurd and existentialism, though Camus personally rejected the latter label. The title character is Meursault, an indifferent French Algerian described as "a citizen of France domiciled in North Africa, a man of the Mediterranean, an homme du midi yet one who hardly partakes of the traditional Mediterranean culture". He attends his mother's funeral. A few days later, he kills an Arab man in French Algiers, who was involved in a conflict with a friend. Meursault is tried and sentenced to death. The story is divided into two parts, presenting Meursault's first-person narrative view before and after the murder, respectively. In January 1955, Camus wrote: I summarized The Stranger a long time ago, with a remark I admit was highly paradoxical: 'In our society any man who does not weep at his mother's funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.' I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game. The Stranger's first edition consisted of 4,400 copies and was not an immediate best-seller. But the novel was well received, partly because of Jean-Paul Sartre's article "Explication de L'Etranger," on the eve of publication of the novel, and a mistake from the Propaganda-Staffel.[further explanation needed] Translated four times into English, and also into numerous other languages, the novel has long been considered a classic of 20th-century literature. Le Monde ranks it as number one on its 100 Books of the Century. The novel was twice adapted as films: Lo Straniero (1967) (Italian) by Luchino Visconti and Yazgı (Fate) by Zeki Demirkubuz (Turkish).
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a 1937 novel and the best known work by African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston. The novel narrates main character Janie Crawford's "ripening from a vibrant, but voiceless, teenage girl into a woman with her finger on the trigger of her own destiny." As a young woman, who is fair-skinned with long hair, she expects more out of life, but comes to realize that people must learn about life 'fuh theyselves' (for themselves), just as people can only go to God for themselves. Set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century, the novel was initially poorly received, but today, it has come to be regarded as a seminal work in both African-American literature and women's literature. TIME included the novel in its 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.
The Crying of Lot 49 is a novella by Thomas Pynchon, first published in 1966. The shortest of Pynchon's novels, it is about a woman, Oedipa Maas, possibly unearthing the centuries-old conflict between two mail distribution companies, Thurn und Taxis and the Trystero (or Tristero). The former actually existed and was the first firm to distribute postal mail; the latter is Pynchon's invention. The novel is often classified as a notable example of postmodern fiction. Time included the novel in its "TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005".
Pnin (Russian pronunciation: [pnʲin]) is Vladimir Nabokov's 13th novel and his fourth written in English; it was published in 1957. The success of Pnin in the United States launched Nabokov's career into literary prominence. Its eponymous protagonist, Timofey Pavlovich Pnin, is a Russian-born assistant professor in his 50s living in the United States. Exiled by the Russian Revolution and what he calls the "Hitler war", Pnin teaches Russian at the fictional Waindell College, loosely inspired by Cornell University and Wellesley College—places where Nabokov himself taught.