(Paris) The Stranger by Albert Camus has become a classic for its refined character, and its manga adaptation published on Wednesday underlines this again.
The comic strip is the work of a young Japanese author, born in 1989, Ryota Kurumado, who is quite a fan of the writer Nobel Prize for Literature to have already adapted another of his novels, The Plague (four volumes in Japanese, 2020 -2021, and in French, 2021-2022).
The stranger appears in a single volume of 300 pages, first in French, by Michel Lafon editions.
Recounting the murder committed, just after the death of his mother, by Meursault, a dull-looking young Algiers office worker, the novel is constrained by the narration of this stingy protagonist, who smooths everything that happens to him.
It is this nihilism that some critics criticize the novel when it was published in May 1942. Camus wrote it in the atmosphere, which he finds sinister, of the Paris of the “phony war”, between March and May 1940 .
In the even less cheerful editorial and intellectual landscape of the Occupation, the book will be successful with intellectuals who will count after the war: Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Blanchot, Roland Barthes.
The manga is different, accumulating close-ups on the faces, and restoring the violence of the homicide.
These Japanese versions of The Plague and The Stranger have been scrutinized by rights holders attentive to the legacy of the French writer, who died in 1960 at the age of 46. In this case his daughter Catherine Camus, assisted by her granddaughter Élisabeth Maisondieu-Camus.
“We received excerpts from the drawing of The Plague. And we liked it a lot: we found the trait extraordinary, and the adaptations very coherent, ”says the latter.
“It’s quite difficult to adapt Camus in manga, to draw philosophical novels. What the manga brought are very expressive faces, to show all the states Meursault went through, and the desacralization of the masterpiece, to stop at certain scenes, to add rhythm.” adds editor Elsa Lafon.
In addition to Gallimard, the house that publishes the work of the philosopher and writer, the Camus have been working with Michel Lafon editions since a 2009 biographical album, Albert Camus, solitaire et solidaire.
The Stranger, with its less than 200 pages in paperback (Folio editions), is a permanent bestseller. For example, it is the sixth best-selling book in France between 2005 and 2020, with nearly 120,000 copies per year.
The novel had already been adapted into a comic strip by Jacques Ferrandez, at Gallimard BD, in settings very faithfully restored by an author specializing in Algeria. While those of Ryota Kurumado, to whom the shores of the Mediterranean are not familiar, are simplified to the extreme.
That a Japanese person took over this French classic shows that “we don’t have to do much for the work to live: Camus lives by himself all over the world”, explains his granddaughter.
“We are increasingly in demand. Bringing it to life consists of examining the possibility of adaptations: this manga, but I’m also thinking of plays, audiovisual works… We try to be open, leaving their voice to other authors,” he explains. -She.
Illustration with the mangaka: it does not start with the famous “Today, mom is dead”, but with a scene from the trial, followed by a flashback.
A serial adaptation of The Plague is currently being filmed, for broadcast on France 2 in 2024.
In bookstores, the last works that remain to be published by Camus will be correspondence. The one with actress Maria Casarès, in 2017, was a huge success.