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The Stranger by Albert Camus
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The Stranger

by Albert Camus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
28,78038167 (3.96)1 / 636
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. 321
    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. 191
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (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. 60
    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. 71
    Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (hiddenpunk)
  5. 104
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (SanctiSpiritus)
  6. 72
    No Exit and Three Other Plays 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. 94
    Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (roby72)
  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
    Whatever by Michel Houellebecq (sanddancer)
  10. 30
    Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist (Troddel)
  11. 20
    No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (rretzler)
  12. 21
    The Fall by Albert Camus (chrisharpe)
  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
    She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir (JuliaMaria)
  15. 00
    The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: Short, deeply existentialist novels of literary character.
  16. 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.
  17. 00
    The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère (bertilak)
  18. 11
    The Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo José Cela (thatguyzero)
  19. 01
    Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz (Bitter_Grace)
  20. 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)

(see all 24 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 334 (next | show all)
I can so easily love this novel. I can so easily hate this novel. There's the paradox. But then, the tale itself straddles the minimalistic line inhabiting what could be a sociopath, a man suffering profound ennui or apathy, or... simply any one of us.

I could say the novel is, as the author first states, a philosophy or meaninglessness, of absolute gentle disregard. Or I could say this is a tale of a man who is worn down to nothingness and can't be bothered to evoke a single emotion despite his mother dying or being asked by a woman to marry her. Or, for that matter, when he kills a man, and then, because the sun was in his eyes and he wasn't sure he did the job right, he put four extra bullets in the man. It's logical. So is his treatment of his mother, putting her in a home and not bothering to cry at her funeral, or commenting on the meaningless of marriage. He's not really involved in anything.

He's a tourist. Or he's abnegating everything.

I'm very disturbed by reading this. I'm also thrilled by the conclusion, that all this personal horror leads to profound existentialism. In effect, he welcomes the whole world with the same honor that it has shown him.

One could say that he and the world both flip each other off.

After that trial, I can't really blame him. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
"To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still."


Aren't we all?
In the world where apathy makes us guilty, aren't we all a bit of Meursault?
This was always the question, even more so in today's world when we have lost touch with our humanity and having trouble finding it back.
( )
  MahiShafiullah | May 25, 2020 |
“I know that man is capable of great deeds. But if he isn’t capable of great emotion, well, he leaves me cold.” That’s from a guy named Tarrou in Camus’s novel The Plague. It’s an inferior book to The Stranger, but I remembered that line as I spent time reflecting on Meursault, a man I thought I loathed more than any character I’d encountered in a long, long time.

Meursault is, for most of the novel at least, perniciously listless. While continuing to interact with the outside world, he doesn’t really care about anything or anyone, and it’s to the absolute detriment of many of the people that surround him. People today know how devastating this kind of emotion is. We do something more along the lines of a sort of tactical apathy. You know, “I (clap) DON’T (clap) GIVE (clap) A (clap) FUCK BOUT YOU!” That kind of thing. We’re trying to wound people by making it clear they don’t matter to us, and it works. What makes Meursault’s indifference different, though, is that he neither knows nor cares about its effects. His actions, whether intentional or not, lead to the vicious beating of a woman and the death of an Arab man, and he never even blinks an eye. It’s not like he’s specifically indifferent to pain. If shooting the Arab had made the man a millionaire instead of a corpse, Meursault’s reaction would have been the same. He just doesn’t care.

Why doesn’t he care? That’s a tough question, especially because I believe that he would answer with another question, “Why should I care?” Had he not been arrested for the shooting of the Arab, none of his behavior would have had any adverse effects on his life, and that seems to be the only thing that matters to him.

Something I’ve thought about quite a bit since reading The Stranger is the difference between independence and complete detachment. I’ve always believed that one person’s happiness is not (or at least should not be) attached to the happiness of others, meaning that I can be happy regardless of my social status or the quality of my relationships with the people around me. In fact, Meursault said something I really liked, even if it is a bit extreme:
At the time, I often thought that if I had had to live in the trunk of a dead tree, with nothing to do but look up at the sky flowering overhead, little by little I would have gotten used to it. I don’t have too many problems with Meursault’s general outlook on life. Some parts of the text can be misinterpreted to make his philosophy out to be more extreme than it is. For example, as he waits to be told the result of his appeal, he fights his fear of impending execution with rationalizations about the length of his life being insignificant, since he was going to have to die at some point anyway. That’s just an attempt to soften the blow of a potential rejection of the appeal, not an indication of his desire to die. He absolutely wants to keep living.

Where Meursault lost me was in his confrontation with the chaplain. Let’s look at part of that outburst, all emphases my own:
Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why. So did he. Throughout the whole absurd life I’d lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living. What did other people’s deaths or a mother’s love matter to me; what did his God or the lives people choose or the fate they think they elect matter to me when we’re all elected by the same fate, me and billions of privileged people like him, who also called themselves my brothers…What would it matter if he were accused of murder and then executed…What did it matter that Raymond was as much my friend as Céleste…What did it matter that Marie now offered her lips to a new Meursault? Let’s set aside Meursault’s big point in all that for just a second. What’s important here is when he uses the word “matter” and what he says immediately afterwards. After saying that nothing mattered, he twice asks why certain instances that relate to him should matter “to me.” The next three times he talks about things not mattering, he doesn’t question to whom those things should matter. He clearly suggests that they shouldn’t matter at all. How considerate of him to make that choice for others.

So do other people’s deaths or a mother’s love matter to him? They don’t at all, and that’s fine. But does it matter that Marie might be in a new relationship? It might not matter to him, but it sure might mean something to Marie, and it might even matter to the “new Meursault.” Taking it one step further, what does the murder of an Arab mean to Meursault? Probably nothing. But what does the murder of an Arab mean to that Arab?

That’s the issue. Meursault has decided that nothing matters because nothing matters to him. He’s basing objective value off of subjective value, which just doesn’t work. It’s incredibly convenient for him. He sees the world the way he thinks the world sees him, making him see the world as “so much like myself – so like a brother, really.” But it doesn’t work out so well for the people around him.

This brings me to what I see as a distinction between independence and detachment. An independent person can still care about people without needing to rely on others for his own happiness. A detached person doesn’t care about other people because he doesn’t rely on them for happiness.

I’m reminded of the young nihilist Bazarov from Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. Although their philosophies differ slightly, they align in three key ways. They both believe that life has no inherent meaning, they’re both gigantic dicks, and they both have no reason to be gigantic dicks. In theory, a belief that life amounts to nothing should make a person more sympathetic to the suffering of others. But even on a small scale, Meursault’s behavior is ridiculous. I’ve read Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, and nowhere in there does it say, “You ought to be willfully obtuse in a courtroom and ignore obvious ways to preserve your life, which you do value, just because it might require you to act in a way that doesn’t align 100% with the way you view the world.” Nowhere in there does it say, “Do not intervene to stop a domestic assault.” Nowhere in there does it say, “Shoot an Arab, and after he’s dead, don’t stop shooting him.”

Did Meursault walk on the beach with the gun intending to kill the Arab? That’s not a question that matters to me. What matters to me is that the question doesn’t even matter to Meursault.

I want to revisit Tarrou’s quote I mentioned at the beginning. Meursault would not leave Tarrou cold. His diatribe at the end of the novel proves his capacity for great emotion. But to what end? I’d rather know a man incapable of emotion than a man whose emotion only works to soothe his own fears. You know what leaves me cold? Coldness.

I’m willing to accept that nothing, absolutely nothing, matters to Meursault. But, in my eyes, saying that something doesn’t matter at all is not a complete sentence. The world very well could be indifferent, but that doesn’t mean we have to be. ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
The book which have influenced me the most ... ( )
  pramodputhaman | Apr 21, 2020 |
Some time years ago, a critic or other influential person looked at the canvas Jackson Pollock had slung some paint onto and declared it "art." Ever since that time, people who have encountered that spilled paint mess and other stuff by Pollock have looked at it to try to figure out how anyone could call it "art." It has been a particularly difficult struggle for kindergarten teachers.
Similarly, somewhere back in time, someone with influence read some stuff and determined that it was an new genre of literature. They named it "existentialism." It was work in which the blindingly obvious was observed and described in stripped down terms. It often occurred in unpleasant stories, often almost lacking in point or purpose, and paraded out to n unsuspecting and unsuspecting public who admired it just as it had the Emperor' New Clothes as he paraded naked through the streets.
I detested existentialism when compelled to read it in college and now have been reminded why.
( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 334 (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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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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