Interviewer: The opening line of this novel (the stranger) has become one of the most widely known quotes in literature. What is your response to this and what were your original intents for the line?
Camus: When I was writing this novel, I did not intend for this line to become so well known. I did not even intend for this line to be spectacular or even important. But after the readers have read this novel, they believe that this line is very important to the novel. After sixty-something years, I have begun to agree with my readers. I think this is a very important line, and I have even begun to consider it worthy of its fame. I am a strong proponent of the Theory of the Absurd, and this line sums up the Theory very well. The Theory discusses the lack of coherence in a brief and painful human existence. In the first line of The Stranger, the reader gets their first glimpse of the Absurd in the character Meursault and the telegraph he just received. Meursault is essentially saying that the loss of his mother means nothing to him. Most people would argue that their mother’s death is a big deal, but Meursault, an indirect proponent of the Absurd, dismisses his mother’s death as a trivial event. Given the basis behind the line, I am glad that it has become so popular and widely known. I feel very strongly about the Theory of the Absurd, and I am glad I can spread my wisdom to others. After seeing the success of this single line, I feel very positive about what has happened to it and my novel.
Q: So if someone gives you $150 million for a film, that’d become essentially a corporate product.
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Herzog: Not necessarily. If you give me $150 million and never show up again [laughs], I would deliver something big and beautiful. But when you have to deal with a corporate world and every single line of dialogue has have the approval of a boardroom decision, then you are probably having too many limitations. And it becomes lifeless very easily. This is why all of these films, many of the big films that the industry creates, are very predictable and very much in a format that is ironclad. It’s not a kind of filmmaking for me.
Q: Your latest book is about your mother. What did you learn from her?
Maya: To develop courage. And she taught me by being courageous herself. I realized that one isn’t born with courage. One develops it by doing small courageous things—in the way that if one sets out to pick up a 100-pound bag of rice, one would be advised to start with a five-pound bag, then 10 pounds, then 20 pounds, and so forth, until one builds up enough muscle to lift the 100-pound bag. It’s the same way with courage. You do small courageous things that require some mental and spiritual exertion.
Q: You’ve been very reluctant to talk to reporters, the press and so on … why is that?
Dylan: Why would you think?
Q: Well, I know why you won’t go on those things.
Dylan: Well, if you know why, you tell ’em … ’cause I find it hard to talk about. People don’t understand how the press works. People don’t understand that the press, they just use you to sell papers. And, in a certain way, that’s not bad … but when they misquote you all the time, and when they just use you to fill in some story. And when you read it after, it isn’t anything the way you pictured it happening. Well, anyhow, it hurts. It hurts because you think you were just played for a fool. And the more hurts you get, the less you want to do it. Ain’t that correct?