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The Stranger by Albert Camus
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The Stranger (original 1942; edition 1946)

by Albert Camus, Stuart Gilbert (Translator)

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23,76628245 (3.97)1 / 462
The quick and dirty about The Stranger: Meusault kills a man while on a weekend vacation with his girlfriend. Part I entails the events leading up to the murder and Part II is post-murder arrest and trial. The interesting component to the story is Meursault's (although not surprising) attitude towards the crime. From the very beginning Meursault has an apathy towards life in general. When he is confronted with a marriage proposal or a job offer he feels nothing. He barely shows emotion when his mother dies. It's as if he doesn't care about anything and yet, curiously, he keeps an old scrapbook where he collects things from the newspapers that interest him. He doesn't seem to understand love/hate relationships like the one his neighbor has with his dog of eight years. Meursault's attention span is also something to note. He is often distracted by lights being too bright, the ringing of bells and the chatter of people around him. the presence of light is particularly interesting since it is the sun that "causes" Meursault to murder.
When Meursault murders a stranger for no apparent reason the fact he did it is not up for debate. It is the reason why that is questioned. Calling Meursault The Stranger is a contradiction because he is not a stranger in the traditional sense. He is not a loner or outcast. He has friends, coworkers, even a girlfriend. What Meursault is a stranger to is expected societal behavior, like mourning the loss of a parent or having feelings for someone he is in a sexual relationship with. Nothing that happens around Meursault has an emotional impact on him. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 7, 2012 |
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Showing 1-25 of 247 (next | show all)
I don't think I can give this a rating yet, because I'm still trying to figure out how I felt about it. I simultaneously related with, pitied, and hated the protagonist. I found Meursault, the prosecutor, and the chaplain equally absurd. I was irritated by the misogyny (and unsure whether it belongs to the writer or the characters). I agreed with some of the philosophies the book seemed to be based on, but totally disagreed with others. It was definitely fascinating and thought-provoking; I finished it several hours ago and have been thinking about it ever since. ( )
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
I feel bad for anyone who lives through life thinking it doesn't matter. Everyone needs something—whether it be religion, relationships, passions, or whatever—to make life worth living. The narrator didn't care about anything, even though there were people who cared about him. So yes, it didn't matter that he was going to be executed for a crime he felt no remorse committing, because his life meant nothing to him. He was more worried about satisfying his desires and getting out of the hot sun than he was about finding joy in life. He found meaning in meaningless; I can't think of anything more depressing than that. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 3, 2016 |
I felt an eerie suspense reading this book as with no other. I felt sympathetic to the protagonist, and really was caught up in this slow haunting atmosphere. Very readable, but on the whole, more entertaining than provoking, and more sour than stimulating. Not much in the way of great one-liners, but for one - the one that saved the novel for me.

I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.
To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I'd been happy, and that I was happy still

( )
  jculkin | Feb 1, 2016 |
I can't decide on a rating for this - I'm going to have to think about it some more. Definitely brilliant, I'm just not sure how I feel about it! ( )
  thebookmagpie | Jan 30, 2016 |
I can't decide on a rating for this - I'm going to have to think about it some more. Definitely brilliant, I'm just not sure how I feel about it! ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
I can't decide on a rating for this - I'm going to have to think about it some more. Definitely brilliant, I'm just not sure how I feel about it! ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
A strange book, but quite profound. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it as such, I'm not sure it's intention was to be enjoyed. The style of writing is simplistic and bare, the characters and narrator distant and unfeeling. Yet it has something to say on the human condition and the lack of control we have in our lives, other than what we choose to feel is important.

As with all translated works,I wonder how accurate this version is. The translator's foreward states that he tried to match the style of the author in his work, rather than translate the deeper meanings. In this particular case I think that was probably a good idea.

I'd be interested in more work by the author, although looking at the other titles, it seems like they might all be of a similar nature. ( )
  fothpaul | Jan 28, 2016 |
The existential condition laid out in a novel with Camus' absurdism thrown in just to add to the dismal aspects of life (in case you happened to be feeling particularly positive). The book is divided into the main character's struggles before he murders and then after he has murdered as he wallows in prison. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Interesting. If I had read a little more exhistentialist writing in college I would have figured out what Robert Smith was thinking about in Killing an Arab! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Interesting. If I had read a little more exhistentialist writing in college I would have figured out what Robert Smith was thinking about in Killing an Arab! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This is a very intriguing book and makes for a lot of reflection when you finish reading it. The beginning is a very easy and interesting read. The last part of the book is very deep and challenging. I would recommend this book to everyone who is interested in a thought-provoking read that will stay with you forever. ( )
  eadieburke | Jan 19, 2016 |
Meursault is an average Algerian man. Shortly after his mother dies, he chances to be involved in a murder. The first part of the book details his thoughts before the murder, and the second part after the murder. Meursault’s character is really much more important than the plot because he is practically a passive observer of his own life. He goes through the events of the novel without seeming to take part in them or form any opinions of them. Critics argue that this is Camus’s way of demonstrating that life has no meaning except the meaning humans give it.

I was a bit daunted by Camus before I read my first book by him (The Plague), and now that I’ve read a second one, I’m convinced that he’s not a hard author to read, he’s quite accessible, and I don’t know why I used to think he would make my head explode. This was very short (123 pages) and easy to read. Although it didn’t blow me away, it is very good, and I recommend it to anyone who isn’t bothered by dark subject matter. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Je sais que c'est un grand classique qu'on qualifie de chef d'oeuvre... Mais quelle froideur et quelle absence totale d'empathie... Je sais que c'est le but recherché, mais ça m'a vraiment horripilée ( )
  CathCD | Jan 16, 2016 |
The Stranger

Chilling

4 stars

I REALLY enjoyed this book. The main character, Mersault, is a man of few words and emotions, which appeared cold and indifferent. I didn't believe it was intentional. I pitied him and believed him not to be a bad person. He simply viewed the world differently and his viewpoint and lack of apathy is what lead to his destruction. I won't tell the story but HIGHLY recommend this book. ( )
  Feleciak | Jan 11, 2016 |
Beautifully written in a seemingly simple style this is a wonderful novel that is easy to read in a short time but then stays with you as you mull over the meanings. The Outsider attends his mothers funeral and gives a thorough description of sitting with her body and the funeral. We then read about his life in his block of flats and meet some of his friends. He seems to have a happy and carefree life and his actions when he shoots a man seem to make no sense. Albert Camus describes the heat and the dust and how that feels so that you can feel the sun on our arms. It is the way that Albert Camus tells this story and how people feel that makes it interesting; the reader is left to fill in the gaps where you would expect drama and emotion to be. In the second part in the prison and then in the court the reader gets clues from what others say about how the trial is going. ( )
  Tifi | Dec 22, 2015 |
From the opening paragraph, to the final statement this book was amazing. The writing style of Camus is incredibly easy to read. I don't want to dumb down or discredit the author one bit, although the words were simple, the story was complex in of itself. I highly recommend it. ( )
  Joseph_Stelmaszek | Nov 29, 2015 |
A young man in Algiers drifts from his mother's funeral, back to his apartment house where he acquires a girlfriend with little effort, listens to a neighbor plotting to get even with his mistress and does nothing to stop it, then commits murder with ease. He describes the relaxing day at the beach that turns deadly in a voice that makes neither sound more important than the other, and doesn't bother defending his actions to the officials who attempt to figure out his motive to kill a stranger, often telling the reader that he would have made an effort to be understood, but "it didn't really matter". ( )
  mstrust | Nov 14, 2015 |
It's a bit hard to put my finger on it, but something about this book is extremely fascinating and interesting. It is incredibly well written and very efficiently drops you into the story and lets you experience the vivid sights, sounds and smells. The main character can seem somewhat inhuman and unrealistic, but at the same time, there is something very normal about him. Moreover, his relative lack of emotions creates a void that provokes many of your own emotions to fill it. The book has an interesting way of dealing with the themes of absurdity, responsibility and morality. It's all tied together with the ideas of existentialism - that life has no higher meaning beyond what we give it - and it's definitely a story you'll have to mull over for a while once you're done with it.

( )
  brikis98 | Nov 11, 2015 |
some people will dislike this because of how casually camus seems to throw everything away. at the end, some might say, everything just withers into nothingness, and hence everything is nothing much different from the other. orange juice and mud all come out as piss in the end, as user "Jr Bacdayan" despairs below, and also living and not-living, murder and not-murder; they too do not change the Fundamental Equation of the Universe, so who gives a shit? now, i do not think this is a correct way of seeing this novel. it all comes down to how the ultimate death is a metaphor, not an actual event that actually happens; and in fact a metaphor for a new life, from whence, having got rid of all that oppressive noise before us, we can move forth into the void and potentially - nay, necessarily - construct a new morality, one that is expressed through the individual and her experience, rather than relying on ridiculous assertions of universal Truth, Justice, and other such Capital concerns.

others, i'm sure, will feel all this angsty screaming into the aether about the pointlessness of existence to be tired, trite, and filled with high school pretensions of misplaced profundity. be that as it may, but i feel this is merely an aesthetic preference, in the same way that ardent fans of this sort of thing will instinctively dismiss works of bright colours and lurid passions as contrived manipulations of our easiest emotions.

still others will just find the stripped down "story" to be boring. ah, whatever. i liked it. very good. lovely. ( )
  lisaeves | Nov 1, 2015 |
later ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
later ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
later ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
I'm pretty sure the narrator is supposed to be a psychopath, but it's remarkable how similar that looks to a person in the depths of a profound depression.
1 vote jen.e.moore | Sep 9, 2015 |
The original title of this novel "L'Etranger" does translate literally into English as "The Stranger", but this novel's context has also led to its translation as "The Outsider". The difference between the two words in fact draws a line between interpretations of the novel. This is the story of a murderer. Either he stands outside of the society the rest of us count ourselves members of, someone vile we can examine from a comfortable distance, or else he is one stranger among all us who are strangers, none of us mattering to the universe - a creepier version that defies you to offer real counterargument as it sets up and tears apart religious and judicial arguments.

I'm a firm believer that where non-fiction teaches us facts, fiction teaches us about emotions. What to do then, with a novel's protagonist who is so dispassionate? The absence of a thing can teach us the value of its presence. Meursault has dismissed everything that makes life worth living as being irrelevant to what life is, but then, of what stuff is life? He doesn't say - or rather, he denies it has any substance. There are times we find ourselves not feeling what we think we ought to, feeling unaffected, feeling like the stranger in the room. It's another thing entirely to justify remaining stuck there and refusing to budge, embracing permanent hopelessness and adopting it as one's philosophy. Filed among "books to ban from the house when depressed." ( )
2 vote Cecrow | Aug 10, 2015 |
What a strange book.

Look for this translation -- the one by Matthew Ward -- rather than the older one by Stuart Gilbert that my generation grew up with. In his translator's note, Ward points out that Camus employed what he called an "American method" when he wrote The Stranger. Camus was an admirer of Hemingway, and it shows in this translation. The older translation is very British, and I'm all about the Brits but not when it comes to Camus.

Put it this way: one of the sentences in the original French of The Stranger is "Il était avec son chien." You don't have to know a lot of French to be able to translate that word for word as "He was with his dog." Which is what Matthew Ward does. Stuart Gilbert fussed around far too much and turned that simple sentence into "As usual, he had his dog with him." Which isn't what Camus said at all.

I'm talking about the translation because I don't have much to say about the novel itself, which is brilliant and baffling. I read it with my son as part of his homeschooling. He isn't much of a pleasure-reader, but he burned through this very quickly and enjoyed it.

"Very strange," he said as he handed it back to me. ( )
1 vote Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
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