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The Stranger (1942)

by Albert Camus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Cycle de l'absurde (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
30,27441367 (3.96)1 / 652
When a young Algerian named Meursault kills a man, his subsequent imprisonment and trial are puzzling and absurd. The apparently amoral Meursault--who puts little stock in ideas like love and God--seems to be on trial less for his murderous actions, and more for what the authorities believe is his deficient character.… (more)
  1. 331
    The Trial by Franz Kafka (chrisharpe, DLSmithies)
    DLSmithies: Two protagonists on trial without really understanding what they're being accused of - it's just a question of degree.
  2. 211
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (chrisharpe, DLSmithies, edelpao)
    DLSmithies: A compare-and-contrast exercise - Raskolnikov is all nervous energy and hypertension, whereas Meursault is detatched, calm, and won't pretend to feel remorse. Two masterpieces.
  3. 70
    The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud (Philosofiction, JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Meursault ist der Protagonist in dem existentialistischen Roman "Der Fremde", auf den sich Daoud in seiner Gegendarstellung bezieht.
  4. 104
    A Clockwork Orange [novel] by Anthony Burgess (SanctiSpiritus)
  5. 94
    Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (roby72)
  6. 72
    No Exit / Dirty Hands / The Flies / The Respectful Prostitute by Jean-Paul Sartre (HollyMS)
    HollyMS: I read both works in French class. Though Albert Camus denied being an existentialist, both L'Étranger (The Stranger) and Huis Clos (No Exit) have some common themes and are among some of the most important 20th century French works of literature.
  7. 51
    Whatever by Michel Houellebecq (sanddancer)
  8. 40
    The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By by Georges Simenon (thorold)
    thorold: Respectable bourgeois discovers absurdity of life and commits motiveless crime.
  9. 41
    The Fall by Albert Camus (chrisharpe)
  10. 30
    Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist (Troddel)
  11. 30
    No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (rretzler)
  12. 10
    She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir (JuliaMaria)
  13. 00
    Homesick for Another World: Stories by Ottessa Moshfegh (j_aroche)
    j_aroche: If you ever feel like an alien in the wrong planet.
  14. 00
    The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: Short, deeply existentialist novels of literary character.
  15. 00
    The Execution: A Novel by Hugo Wilcken (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Similar in style, theme, narration and execution. The Execution is a more modern version of the tale.
  16. 00
    The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère (bertilak)
  17. 11
    The Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo José Cela (thatguyzero)
  18. 01
    Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz (Bitter_Grace)
  19. 12
    At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others by Sarah Bakewell (JuliaMaria)
  20. 14
    The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick by Peter Handke (lewbs)

(see all 23 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 361 (next | show all)
Until the very end of the book, I didn't have much of a reaction to it. Part of that was because it's about a guy who also doesn't have many reactions to things, and also because this felt like one of the fastest reads of my life, like I'd barely even begun before it was suddenly over.

I don't have much insightful to say about the plot since it's extremely straightforward (though one point that did stand out to me is that it's unclear exactly how Mersault got arrested, since there don't seem to be any witnesses around when he shoots the Arab and he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would voluntarily turn himself in), but I was intrigued by the impact of the famous final sentence on me: "For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration." It's the "howls of execration" that does it for me; after the mostly affectless main character has spent the entire novel being alternately bored, bemused, or simply uninterested in what others think of him, that his final moments are animated solely by the desire to be hated is somehow much more compelling to me than most of the rest of the work. The contrast between the deliberate blandness of the prose and that one burst of feeling at the end is well-done, and enough for me to not have felt like the book was just an overlong short story.

As far as the philosophical aspects of the novel go, I'm not much interested in existentialism, and even less in absurdism per se, so I guess all I can really say about Camus' themes about life and meaningless and so on is that it seems like he got across what he was intending to. Yet he does manage to make a good deal of the conversations between Mersault and everyone else funny in their own way, and the ending dialogue with the priest is a high point. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
I went into The Stranger not really knowing what to expect. I only knew that the author was a philosopher who believed in absurdity. This work gave rise to the popularity of absurdism, a belief which the dictionary defines as "the belief that human beings exist in a purposeless, chaotic universe."

Our protagonist is a man named Meursault, an indifferent man who seems content to live life one day at a time. He seemed emotionless to me and didn't seem to care much for things in life. The story begins with this mother passing away, and he neglects to show any emotion about her passing. He doesn't shed any tears. When asked by the pall bearer for her age, he doesn't even know that.

The rest of the story continues in this fashion, with Meursault narrating every event that takes place in his life with an uncaring and lethargic attitude. Certain events unfold and it's not until the end of the story where we see him become passionate about his belief that we should all just live life and not worry about trying to solve issues because in the end we all die anyway. Nothing will ever change the fact that life will end.

That's the impression the book left me. I think this a work that requires multiple readings for the moral to reveal itself. Maybe it's subjective and everyone comes to a different conclusion, sees the story in a different light and comes to their own understanding.

I feel like I shouldn't have read other readers' interpretations before reading it, so I feel I may have tainted my experience unfortunately. I owe myself a re-read in the future. ( )
  ProfessorEX | Apr 15, 2021 |
The name of Camus is one of the most widely-mentioned in some meme groups I'm in.
Honestly, I was intimated by his name alone.
I was thinking that books by people like him are full of words that I find too pompous or... pretentious (or whatever you call it).
He was able to make me see the world in the perspective of the protagonist (or shall I say "antihero"?).
Special thanks to the translator for making my reading journey as smooth as can be.
Will read more of his works.
(may edit later) ( )
  DzejnCrvena | Apr 2, 2021 |
Bleak. ( )
  DavidCraddock | Mar 20, 2021 |
This is the story of a man who is living the life of the “absurd” as described by Camus in the Myth of Sisyphus. However, it is only his senseless and unintended murder of an Arab and his subsequent imprisonment and trial which brings him to a full appreciation of his life and how he has led it.

In the first part of the book, Meursault is shown as both separated from and indifferent to life. He does not cry at his mother’s funeral, he agrees to become the “copain” of his disreputable neighbor, Raymond Sintes, because he can think of no reason not to, and he assents to Marie’s desire to marry while recognizing that he does not actually love her. This indifference does not prevent him from living the ordinary day-to-day life and going through all the proper motions, including performing well in his job.

But then he shoots the Arab on the beach, and the best explanation he can make is that thirst and the heat of the sun caused him to do it. While in prison and in the course of his trial he begins to reflect more on his life. Rather than reject the life he has led, he becomes more aware of himself and embraces his life. Because he remains true to himself, he is ultimately condemned to death. He does not want to die but in his last days in prison he is at peace with himself and regrets nothing (other than that he had not learned more about executions).

Meursault is thus an example of the absurd man described in The Myth of Sisyphus. Almost instinctively, he recognizes that life is meaningless and that religion, love and ambition cannot change that reality. His patron offers him a promotion to work in Paris, but Meursault turns him down. He enjoys and needs his physical relationship with Marie but has no illusions about love or marriage bringing meaning to life. The chaplain in the prison (as well as the investigating judge and his lawyer) tries to bring him to God, but Meursault is unbudgeable in his atheism, nor will he express remorse for his mother’s death or regret for the death of the Arab.

The funeral of his mother is the first event of the book. But he comes back to his memories of her throughout the book until his final moments in prison. While he says that she cried to be put in the elder home (which is a long bus ride from Algiers), in most respects she seems to be the model for her son’s attitudes. He says that she too did not believe in God. She always said that one adapts to everything. (At first, prison was a punishment for him because of his cravings for women, the sea and cigarettes, but ceased to be so when he ceased to have the cravings.) Just like his mother took a fiancé at the end of her life, he also wants to continue to live.

He feels like an intruder at his own trial. He feels he is being tried for being indifferent to his mother. The prosecutor links the murder of the Arab to the burial of his mother. Meursault recognizes that death is inevitable, but it galls him to lose twenty years of life. At the end he does not feel despair but he has fear of death. Opening himself to the “tender indifference” of the world, he realizes he had been and still is happy. His last thought is that he hopes he will have a “grand” execution with many spectators who welcome him with cries of hate. ( )
  drsabs | Feb 26, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 361 (next | show all)
It is quite a trick to write of life & death, as Camus does, in terms of an almost total social and moral vacuum. He may get philosophical satisfaction from it. Most readers will call it philosophic doodling.
added by Shortride | editTime (May 20, 1946)
 
"The Stranger,” a novel of crime and punishment by Albert Camus, published today, should touch off in this country a renewed burst of discussion about the young French writers who are at the moment making more unusual literary news than the writers of any other country.
 

» Add other authors (61 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Camus, AlbertAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bree, GermaineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brenner, Hans GeorgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohen, Marc J.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunwoodie, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, StuartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goyert, GeorgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, BarnabyPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laredo, JamesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laredo, JosephTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lionni, LeoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lynnes, Carlos, Jr.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, SusanArt directorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morriën, AdriaanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stolpe, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Urculo, EduardoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valente, José ÁngelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, MatthewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watkins, LiselotteCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yentus, HelenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zevi, AlbertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Mother died today. (Stuart Gilbert translation)
Maman died today. (Matthew Ward translation)
Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.
Quotations
And I, too, felt ready to start life all over again. It was if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, 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.
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When a young Algerian named Meursault kills a man, his subsequent imprisonment and trial are puzzling and absurd. The apparently amoral Meursault--who puts little stock in ideas like love and God--seems to be on trial less for his murderous actions, and more for what the authorities believe is his deficient character.

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Book description
Pubblicato nel 1942, "Lo straniero" è un classico della letteratura contemporanea: protagonista è Meursault, un modesto impiegato che vive ad Algeri in uno stato di indifferenza, di estraneità a se stesso e al mondo. Un giorno, dopo un litigio, inesplicabilmente Meursault uccide un arabo. Viene arrestato e si consegna, del tutto impassibile, alle inevitabili conseguenze del fatto - il processo e la condanna a morte - senza cercare giustificazioni, difese o menzogne. Meursault è un eroe "assurdo", e la sua lucida coscienza del reale gli permette di giungere attraverso una logica esasperata alla verità di essere e di sentire.
(piopas)
Haiku summary
Je suis étranger.
Aujourd'hui, maman est morte.
Et je ne pleure pas.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182504, 0241950058, 0141389583

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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