Solidarity and the Absurd in Kamel Daoud's Meursault, contre-enquête

Sarah Horton
Boston College
This article examines Kamel Daoud’s treatment of solidarity and the absurd in Meursault, contre-enquête and posits that the question of how to live in solidarity with others is central to the novel, although the word ‘solidarity’ never appears in it. After recalling Camus’s discussion of the absurd in Le Mythe de Sisyphe and of solidarity in L’Homme révolté, the article examines the manner in which Haroun, Daoud’s narrator and the brother of the Arab Meursault killed in L’Étranger, reveals his own failures of solidarity. He justly criticizes Meursault for privileging his confrontation with the absurd over the death of the Arab he did not even name, but Haroun too has killed. Haroun has, however, a greater understanding of solidarity than his fellows: he at least recognizes that murder is significant. He thus joins Meursault as an unworthy prophet who proclaims the absurd while surrounded by people who flee from it—and proclaiming the absurd can be a gesture of solidarity when one speaks for others, as Haroun speaks for his brother Moussa. Daoud’s novel reminds us that there are no final answers telling us how to live in solidarity with others and that we must do so all the same.
Keywords Kamel Daoud  solidarity  Albert Camus  absurd
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DOI 10.5195/jffp.2016.733
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