Physically speaking we all evolve through a number of stages between birth and death – Shakespeare’s ‘seven ages of man’. But it also seems obvious that we evolve through a series of personalities. How often have we met a child after several years and been amazed that he no longer seems to be the same person? But our personal evolution is not as inevitable as our physical growth: it is the result of effort. If life becomes too difficult we cease to make efforts and cease to evolve. This,

I’ve read Joyce and Sartre and Beckett and the rest, and every atom in me rejects what they say. They strike me as liars and fools. I don’t think they’re dishonest so much as hopelessly tired and defeated.

These men are in prison: that is the Outsider’s verdict. They are quite contented in prison-caged animals who have never known freedom; but it is prison all the same. And the Outsider? He is in prison too: nearly every Outsider in this book has told us so in a different language; but he knows it. His desire is to escape. But a prison-break is not an easy matter; you must know all about your prison, otherwise you might spend years in tunnelling, like the Abbe in The Count of Monte Cristo, and only find yourself in the next cell.