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Opinions on my French B E.E Question?

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Hey! So I already started working on the introduction of my E.E, which is for French B Literature. I decided to share my Research Question so that I can have opinions that might nourish my development. I know Camus is a very known and common author and it is recommended to look for secondary sources for authors like him so if anybody has any secondary source suggestion I would appreciate it. I also wonder if the question is narrow enough for you guys because I'm not that sure. 

 

So this is what it is about: 

 

Sujet: L'absurde dans les romans d'Albert Camus

Problématique: Comment le thème de l'absurde est-il-traité dans L'Étranger et La Peste d'Albert Camus?

 

Which translates to...

 

Topic: The absurd in Albert Camus' novels

Research Question: How is the subject of the absurd treated in The Stranger and The Plague by Albert Camus?

 

Thank you all for your help in advance!

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Well... just so that you know it is a topic that has been hashed and re-hashed over the years by every other IB student. Your topic totally lacks originality. But it lacks this also because your focus is so broad.

 

One more thing: unless you have a perfect understanding of "l'absurde" you risk messing up big time. 

 

Though the topic is viable, I would not recommend it. There must be some other aspect of the novel that will allow you to achieve a more satisfyingly original discussion of the work, while revealing your understanding of French culture.

 

Have you thought, for instance, of how the novel was received by French (white) and French (non-white) Algerian readers? Or how it could be read differently by these two categories? Or how it reveals attitudes about core French culture (mainland France, Paris) and metropolitan (overseas colonies, dependencies...) or attitudes about the working class... There are tons of options, when you think about it more.

 

Essentially, you could do a post-colonial reading of the novel, if you are up to it. In some ways, it is a more straightforward choice than dealing with the notoriously tricky "absurde". 

 

If it is language you want to concentrate on (which automatically means culture too, since language is THE single most important conveyor of culture) you could discuss Camus' use of imagery (of heat, sun, water, beaches, etc)  and its meaning for the work. You could also discuss his language and how his use of it departs in so many ways to what French readers (but not American! thanks to Hemingway...) were used to at the time. In what ways *did* his style and usage in his novel depart from what had preceded it and why? 

 

So, maybe this helps. 

Edited by Blackcurrant

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Well... just so that you know it is a topic that has been hashed and re-hashed over the years by every other IB student. Your topic totally lacks originality. But it lacks this also because your focus is so broad.

 

One more thing: unless you have a perfect understanding of "l'absurde" you risk messing up big time. 

 

Though the topic is viable, I would not recommend it. There must be some other aspect of the novel that will allow you to achieve a more satisfyingly original discussion of the work, while revealing your understanding of French culture.

 

Have you thought, for instance, of how the novel was received by French (white) and French (non-white) Algerian readers? Or how it could be read differently by these two categories? Or how it reveals attitudes about core French culture (mainland France, Paris) and metropolitan (overseas colonies, dependencies...) or attitudes about the working class... There are tons of options, when you think about it more.

 

Essentially, you could do a post-colonial reading of the novel, if you are up to it. In some ways, it is a more straightforward choice than dealing with the notoriously tricky "absurde". 

 

If it is language you want to concentrate on (which automatically means culture too, since language is THE single most important conveyor of culture) you could discuss Camus' use of imagery (of heat, sun, water, beaches, etc)  and its meaning for the work. You could also discuss his language and how his use of it departs in so many ways to what French readers (but not American! thanks to Hemingway...) were used to at the time. In what ways *did* his style and usage in his novel depart from what had preceded it and why? 

 

So, maybe this helps. 

 

Ok, thanks a lot for the advice! I told my teacher that the absurd for Camus would be a very common topic but he said it would be unique if I compare and contrast the way this theme is treated in The Plague and in The Stranger. Yet, thanks to you I do think I should really change it to something else (more post-colonial) keeping the same two novels. I really like your suggestions, yet they seem to be just for The Stranger and not for the two works. I specially liked the suggestion about images, yet I'm not sure how abundant/relevant they are on The Plague. Maybe I go on something like the incidence of settings (or maybe metaphors) on the character's configuration. I would really like to see what comes to your mind when it comes to the two titles and not just The Stranger! Again, thank you very very much! 

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Oh -- I noticed just now the TWO novels. Somehow my eye focused only on the first. OK.

 

In that case, if you are going to use the two works by Camus, then (and only if you are very secure about your understanding of the absurd) the advice of your supervisor / teacher makes good sense. I agree that your essay may be a little more original for the comparison. And a comparison of these two works and their styles will give you plenty of material to play with for an EE.

 

The post-colonial reading would allow you plenty of material to work with as well, provided you read up on the basic theory. This theory is rather more straightforward than l'absurde (in my opinion, anyway).   Alternatively, a discussion kind of readings and criticism the work would most likely have received at the time, giving a glimpse of French culture (diverse --not unified, as the term deceptively suggests!) of the late 1940-early 50s.

 

There are lots of options on the table it depends on what you feel you are up to and how comfortable you are with topics/theories here. And how frm your grasp of absurdism is. Examiners warn of Camus' absurde appearing deceptively simple but students all-too easily and frequently misunderstanding the term and concept. 

Edited by Blackcurrant
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Well I actually agree with the fact that treating the absurd is pretty tricky, and after lots of reading and thinking, I changed my focus into something in which i feel more comfortable (especially since I am taking Political Thought SL). Another thing that is very in common between these two Camus novels is the critique to the State and the institutions, and I made up the following question: 

 

How does Albert Camus treat the concepts of oppression and resistance from the role of institutions in the societies described in the novels The Stranger and The Plague?

 

The question changed a bit as I tried to translate it from spanish (my native language), but I hope you get the point. I haven't translated it to french yet, I'm just looking for sources atm. 

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Sounds fine -- though a tad long. That's easy to solve though. Just shorten the question to

 

"How does Albert Camus treat the concepts of oppression and resistance in the novels The Stranger and The Plague?"

 

 then explain in your intro/justification the how you will concentrate on the institutional nature of oppression (or the oppression by institutions, which is a little different).

 

It'll be interesting to see what you settle for in the end :)

Edited by Blackcurrant
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