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The French authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were particularly fond of the "paysage moralise" device often attributed to Dostoyevsky, the practice of reflecting the psychological state of the protagonist in the landscape in which the action takes place, the "moral landscape." In Dostoyevsky's case, Raskalnikov's attic room in "Crime and Punishment" is a reflection of the stunyed, pressing world in which his crime is committed; in Camus' "The Stranger," the desolate desert region of Algeria serves to underline the lifeless atmosphere in which he commits his crime, and also is indicative of the absence of "meaning" or "structure" of existence, in the existential philosophy. Seen in this light, it is easy to understand the desert setting in the other novels as well.
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