Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:15 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Story 2: THE RENEGADE 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16169
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3492
Thanked: 1326 times in 1045 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Story 2: THE RENEGADE
Story 2: THE RENEGADE

Please use this thread for discussing the short story "The Renegade."



Sun May 18, 2008 6:13 pm
Profile Email WWW
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6336
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1839
Thanked: 2028 times in 1536 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
We've met Janine, a passive woman who has had no idea of what she wanted from life. Now we meet the unnamed former seminary student, a spiritually aggressive man of the sociopathic type who clearly does know what he wants. Articulate in his thoughts, the only word he possesses is gra, issuing from his tongueless mouth. The story reminded me a bit of Poe in its ability to keep the reader in the grip of an increasing terror. But there is more theme here than in Poe.

The narrator may have never known what love is (he asks about his parents, "Did I love them?"), and he does not appear to approach Christianity in the spirit of one wishing to spread the love of God to others. It seems to be about power and dominance for him, with the conversion/conquering of the city of salt representing his supreme ambition.

I might need some help with the ending of this story. I am just not sure whether what we see could be the emergence in his mind (probably for the first time) of the world of good, vs. the evil he had dedicated himself to.

This story made me thirsty by the end! It is a tour de force, as the first story was.



Sat May 24, 2008 11:00 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I can has reading?

Silver Contributor

Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2954
Location: Leesburg, VA
Thanks: 481
Thanked: 398 times in 302 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post 
I am really struggling to make sense of this story. I think DWill is right, that it is a story about power and dominance. I know there is more, but I just can't find my way. It occurs to me that my lack of knowledge of Algeria and the little I know about Camus are an impediment. So, I did what I always do and went digging. Here is what I found:

http://www.penguinclassics.co.uk/nf/shared/WebDisplay/0,,214993_1_0,00.html

....We can now see more clearly, perhaps, how Algeria and its people -- European protagonists, Arab or indigenous Others -- are represented in Camus's work; and how this imagined relationship frames the struggles of many of his characters.
The previously unpublished stories that make up Exile and the Kingdom - especially but not only those set in North Africa -- explore, in a more consciously nuanced way than the novels and plays, the dilemma of the outsider or stranger, and the vexed poles of solitude and community, exile and belonging, speech and silence.


From what I've been gathering, it seems that maybe the unnamed ex-seminary student represents the French imperialist coming to Algeria to convert and conquer.



Sun May 25, 2008 7:54 am
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6336
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1839
Thanked: 2028 times in 1536 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
I'm sure we'll soon have several fascinating ideas presented about the story. When I said the story is a tour de force, what I meant is that it is an expression of artistic power just on its face. It depends on what kind of reader one is, but for me the aspect of the writer's performance is primary. I tend to be drawn not as much to interpretation through allusion and symbolism. I don't denigrate this as a pursuit; just saying it's not what pulls me most.
We might naturally expect Camus to be always a philosophical or political writer given his resume. I think we should also give him some space to operate solely as an artist. There is more than enough evidence of his ability in these first two stories (which I'm sure none would dispute).
DWill



Mon May 26, 2008 7:56 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie


Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 825
Location: Wyse Fork, NC
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Renega ... hort_story)

The Wikipedia article on The Renegade says that it is obscure, confusing, and about religion. I think Wiki is mistaken. The Renegade is no more about religion than Swift's A Modest Proposal is about diet.

the closed town = Russia
witchdoctor = Stalin
the Fetish = salvation through technology
savages = communists
missionary = idealistic and unrealistic westerners
loss of tongue = loss of free speech in communist societies

Tom



Tue May 27, 2008 2:20 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Almost Comfortable


Joined: May 2008
Posts: 19
Location: Currently: Utah
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
Thomas Hood wrote:
The Wikipedia article on The Renegade says that it is obscure, confusing, and about religion. I think Wiki is mistaken. The Renegade is no more about religion than Swift's A Modest Proposal is about diet.


That's an intriguing interpretation, Tom. I'm still not sure I can dismiss religion entirely from the story, but Camus seems so ambivalent about it, especially at the end, when the narrator goes back to Christianity and "mercy" only to be proven a fool once again by getting sand shoved in his face. Maybe Camus is scorning those who worry too much about the face of God when he believes it doesn't matter.

One observation (before I thought he might be saying that you shouldn't care about it):

Camus, in Cosman's translation, shows some real mastery of switching perspectives, at times switching his narrator from disdainful or victimized Catholic to barbaric psycho in a single sentence. He mocks Christianity one minute but then shoots down that mockery by presenting something even worse the next. Consider the line on p. 45: "...why is he smiling at me, I am crushing that smile!" The wounded priest's apparent strength despite the narrator's gunshot made me reconsider Camus's dismissal of religion, but again, he's so ambivalent it's hard to tell.


Also!: This is the second story with betrayal as a prominent theme. Thoughts? (I latched onto the narrator's assertion that converting something is more powerful than destroying it. A nod to the power of colonialism??)



Thu May 29, 2008 2:50 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie


Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 825
Location: Wyse Fork, NC
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
Yuvie, about Camus and religion, from the little I've read it seems to me that Camus advocates a religion of camaraderie. The renagade broke the social link when he chose to go it alone and instead of converting the savages through the influence of friendship attempted to do so through force. A smile is a sign of friendship, and the priest sustained friendship to the end. In terms of The Renagade as a fable of political forces, totalitarianism attempts to subordinate friendship within the family and between friends to the interest of the state. That's how I interpreted the gruesome sex before the Fetish episode.

I haven't been following the Inner Fish discussion, but fish do swim in schools, and I imagine that the subtle prompting of the gregarious instinct is what we and the fish take to be the voice of God.

Tom



Thu May 29, 2008 9:01 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6336
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1839
Thanked: 2028 times in 1536 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
I've been thinking about this story, but so far have no coherent reading of it. The character is so singular that there is little possibility of connecting his thinking or development with humanity in general, unlike the case with Janine. I can understand why Thomas might want to go straight to allegory, but I don't tend that way.

Yuvie makes me think of the character's struggle to avoid being in a "muddle." His switching of perspectives seems to be about the difficulty in maintaining his focus on the type of orderliness that has always obsessed him. Whether it was Catholicism or Fetishism, he had to believe that each desribed the perfect order and could admit no ambiguity. He also needed some way of satisfying his own self-hatred, and each religion again fit the bill. If existentialism deals often in disaffected types, he is the extreme example: disaffected from his home and family, from the kind of Christianity his teachers at seminary want him to practice, and finally from all of it--including Europe itself--when he converts to the total, and for him comforting, evil of the Fetish. He is every bit the renegade, one dictionary meaning of which is one who renounces a religion.

Robert's post which mentions totalitarianism leads me to think that this could be a purpose of Camus': to portray the totalitarian mentality. It doesn't matter that religion is the vehicle; it has been before, after all. The striving for a perfect order is a mark of totalitarian intellectuals.

As I said, nothing coherent. I'm content to see this story as a tale of sorts, certainly a fable, too. It's a bit of a phantasmagoria, not meant to be entirely realsitic. Taghasa is no place in the real world. Camus may be intending to deliver a shock, and he succeeds in that.

Random comment: Camus decides to break narrative tradition by having the final line delivered by an omniscient third person.
DWill



Fri May 30, 2008 6:23 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie


Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 825
Location: Wyse Fork, NC
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
DWill wrote:
Taghasa is no place in the real world.


Will, Taghaza is a real place, but apparently a ghost town since 1591:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taghaza

This quote from Ibn Battuta is too good to miss:

...I set out on the 1st Muharram of the year seven hundred and fifty-three (18 February 1352) with a caravan including amongst others a number of the merchants of Sijilmasa [present day Morocco/Aglerian frontier region]. After twenty five days we reached Taghaza, an unattractive village, with the curious feature that its houses and mosques are built of blocks of salt, roofed with camel skins. there are no trees there, nothing but sand. In the sand is a salt mine; they dig for the salt, and find it in thick slabs, lying one on top of the other, as though they had been tool-squared and laid under the surface of the earth. A camel will carry two of these slabs. No one lives at Taghaza except the slaves of the Masufa tribe, who dig for the salt; they subsist on dates imported from Dara and Sijilmasa [Morocco], camel's flesh, and millet imported from the Negrolands. The Negroes come up from their country and take away the salt from there. At Walata a load of salt brings eight to ten mithqals; in the town of Mali it sells for twenty to thirty, and sometimes as much as forty. The Negroes use salt as a medium of exchange, just as gold and silver is used elsewhere; they cut it up into pieces and buy and sell with it. The business done at Taghaza, for all its meanness, amounts to an enormous figure in terms of hundred-weights of gold dust ...
http://www.humanities.ualberta.ca/histo ... .tut2.html

West Africa got most of its salt from Taghaza, a settlement in the Sahara Desert where salt was mined by slaves who were either captives from other groups of people or criminals sentenced to work in the salt mines until they died or escaped.
http://www.vmfa.state.va.us/mali_geo_hist.html

Tom



Fri May 30, 2008 8:29 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Almost Comfortable


Joined: May 2008
Posts: 19
Location: Currently: Utah
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
Quote:
Robert's post which mentions totalitarianism leads me to think that this could be a purpose of Camus': to portray the totalitarian mentality. It doesn't matter that religion is the vehicle; it has been before, after all. The striving for a perfect order is a mark of totalitarian intellectuals.


I like that phrase "totalitarian mentality." I said Camus might be scorning those who split hairs about religion when it doesn't actually matter, but I think DWill's comment might be taking that idea much further.

Tom, thanks for providing insights into Camus and religion. I'm starting to agree that the importance of religion in this story is that it's not important. Like DWill, though, I have trouble containing this story in the neat box of allegory. Perhaps parts of it are inexplicable, like human nature.

And of course, the last line. I noticed it too. It seems to be the first point where Camus comes right out and tells the reader what to feel, rather than letting him/her infer from the renegade's perspective. Did people think it was necessary for him to do that?



Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:47 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Almost Comfortable


Joined: May 2008
Posts: 19
Location: Currently: Utah
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
Quote:
Robert's post which mentions totalitarianism leads me to think that this could be a purpose of Camus': to portray the totalitarian mentality. It doesn't matter that religion is the vehicle; it has been before, after all. The striving for a perfect order is a mark of totalitarian intellectuals.


I like that phrase "totalitarian mentality." Camus might be saying religion doesn't matter, but I think DWill's comment expands that idea into something more substantial.

Tom, thanks for providing insights into Camus and religion. I'm starting to agree that the importance of religion in this story is that it's not important. Like DWill, though, I have trouble containing this story in the neat box of allegory. Perhaps parts of it are inexplicable, like human nature.

And of course, the last line. I noticed it too. It seems to be the first point where Camus comes right out and tells the reader what to feel, rather than letting him/her infer from the renegade's perspective. Did people think it was necessary for him to do that?



Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:50 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Atop the Piled Books


Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 36
Location: Singapore
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
The story felt quite visceral to me, great writing! I got a few thoughts and questions after reading it.

Thomas Hood wrote:
Will, Taghaza is a real place, but apparently a ghost town since 1591

I'm curious where in time would you place this story? Camus wrote it in 1957, but that's surely not the time of the story. Taghaza is already extinct and the Fetishism, the salt trade and the Christian missionary activity in Algeria-Mali, means that this story would've happened several decades or even centuries earlier.

Thomas Hood wrote:
This quote from Ibn Battuta is too good to miss:

Thanks a lot Thomas for this find, it was delightful to read about this forgotten place in the memoirs of a real traveller. Also, the details in the story make so much sense now.

But, I wonder who the masters and the slaves in Taghaza are? Are they both native Africans? If yes, different tribes or races?

Finally, I'm surprised with the steadfastedness with which the renegade switches his religion or faith. I doubt people in real life can switch so resolutely without questioning or holding on to some bits of their former religion. All the more since this renegade was a missionary!



Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:51 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Atop the Piled Books


Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 36
Location: Singapore
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
DWill wrote:
Random comment: Camus decides to break narrative tradition by having the final line delivered by an omniscient third person.

It is possible that the renegade is already dead while his mouth is being filled with salt. (Could it be a funeral custom of the people of that region?) And so the voice of the last sentence could be the soul of the renegade ... just a possibility :smile:



Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:54 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie


Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 825
Location: Wyse Fork, NC
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
yodha wrote:
I'm curious where in time would you place this story? Camus wrote it in 1957, but that's surely not the time of the story. Taghaza is already extinct and the Fetishism, the salt trade and the Christian missionary activity in Algeria-Mali, means that this story would've happened several decades or even centuries earlier.


The story could be in the 1920's or 30's or later. To get part way to Taghasa (Taghaza) the renegade takes a bus on the Trans-Sahara line from Algiers to the remote south. Then he completes the journey by means of a thirty-day hike with a guide who robs him when they reach the city of salt.

Taghaza is apparently an uninhabited area, but it is likely to have been inhabited from time to time by nomads. French missionaries and anthropologists were (I believe) especially active in the Mali area in the 1920's and 30's, and the mystique of Mali is (I think) part of the modern French imagination. The Dogon, their art and Sirius cult, and the depth of learning in Timbuktu make Mali a mythical place.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Temple
Temple is a believer.

http://www.csicop.org/si/7809/sirius.html
Ridpath debunks the Sirius myth.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/07/world ... 7mali.html
books in Timbuktu

"A surge of interest in ancient books, hidden for centuries in houses along Timbuktu's dusty streets and in leather trunks in nomad camps, is raising hopes that Timbuktu



Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:18 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6336
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1839
Thanked: 2028 times in 1536 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Thomas Hood wrote:
It's the Patty Hearst syndrome. A captive who is isolated and brutalized may quickly take on the values of captors. It was called "brainwashing" in Korea. The same thing happens in cults. It explains why abused women and children defend their abusers. Probably it happened repeatedly in France during the German occupation.

That's possible, although if the captors treat the captives with a modicum of respect (or at least not the outright cruelty shown by the Taghasans), that result might be more likely. Brainwashing, if it works, is more of an educational effort than was directed toward our fallen seminarian. At any rate, I don't mean to dispute this as much as to draw attention to the way Camus portrays our hero, so singleminded in his quest for the supreme spiritual power. It seems that he would not adopt the values and agenda of his captors unless there was this strong appeal to his ideal of absolute power. It's almost an esthetic thing with him. The love of the Christian religion didn't turn out to be so potent a tool for conquering as the evil of the Taghasans (although one sees a twisted, perverted application of Christianity in him even in the beginning.) This guy was quite a mess overall, but I'd like to credit him at least with a maniacal focus that hardly ever wavered. It seems to be wavering towards the end of his life.
DWill



Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:50 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page 1, 2  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank