Saturday swimming

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This is an excerpt from the book The Outsider (also called The Stranger) by Albert Camus, translated by Joseph Laredo.

When I woke up, I understood why my boss seemed unhappy when I asked him for my two days off: today’s a Saturday. I’d sort of forgotten, but as I was getting up, it occurred to me. My boss, quite naturally, thought that I’d be getting four days’ holiday including my Sunday and he couldn’t have been very pleased about that. But for one thing, it isn’t my fault if they buried mother yesterday instead of today and for another, I’d have had my Saturday and Sunday off in any case. Of course, I can still understand my boss’s point of view.

I had trouble getting up because I was tired from the day before. While I was shaving, I wondered what to do with myself and I decided to go for a swim. I caught the tram down to the bathing station at the port. I dived straight into the narrows. It was full of young people. In the water I met Marie Cordona, who used to be a typist at the office. I’d fancied her at the time, and I think she fancied me too. But she left soon afterwards and nothing came of it. I helped her onto a buoy and as I did so, I brushed against her breasts. I was still in the water and she was already lying flat on her stomach on the buoy. She turned round towards me. She had her hair in her eyes and she was laughing. I hoisted myself onto the buoy beside her. It was good and as if for fun, I let my head sink back onto her stomach. She didn’t say anything and I left it there. I had the whole sky in my eyes and it was all blue and gold. I could feel Marie’s stomach throbbing gently under the back of my neck. We lay on the buoy for a long time, half asleep. When the sun got too hot, she dived off and I followed. I caught her up, put my arm round her waist and we swam together. She was still laughing. On the quayside, while we were drying ourselves, she said, ‘I’m browner than you.’ I asked her if she wanted to come to the cinema that evening. She laughed again and said there was a Fernandel film she’d like to see. When we’d got dressed again, she seemed very surprised to see me in a black tie and she asked me if I was in mourning. I told her that mother had died. She wanted to know when, so I said, ‘Yesterday.’ She recoiled slightly, but made no remark. I felt like telling her that it wasn’t my fault, but I stopped myself because I remembered that I’d already said that to my boss. It didn’t mean anything. In any case, you’re always partly to blame.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Outsider (also called The Stranger) – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

Meursault will not pretend. After the death of his mother, everyone is shocked when he shows no sadness. And when he commits a random act of violence in Algiers, society is baffled. Why would this seemingly law-abiding bachelor do such a thing? And why does he show no remorse even when it could save his life? His refusal to satisfy the feelings of others only increases his guilt in the eyes of the law. Soon Meursault discovers that he is being tried not simply for his crime, but for his lack of emotion – a reaction that condemns him for being an outsider. For Meursault, this is an insult to his reason and a betrayal of his hopes; for Camus it encapsulates the absurdity of life.

Copyright © 1942 by Albert Camus.

Translated by: Joseph Laredo

More details on Goodreads can be found here.