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Stranger by Albert Camus

Stranger (original 1942; edition 2005)

by Albert Camus

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26,18033242 (3.96)1 / 552
Authors:Albert Camus
Info:Recorded Books (2005), Audio CD
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)

  1. 310
    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. 190
    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. 71
    Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (hiddenpunk)
  4. 93
    Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (roby72)
  5. 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.
  6. 104
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (SanctiSpiritus)
  7. 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.
  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
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  10. 30
    Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist (Troddel)
  11. 21
    The Fall by Albert Camus (chrisharpe)
  12. 00
    She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir (JuliaMaria)
  13. 11
    The Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo José Cela (thatguyzero)
  14. 00
    The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: Short, deeply existentialist novels of literary character.
  15. 00
    The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère (bertilak)
  16. 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)
  17. 01
    Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz (Bitter_Grace)
  18. 14
    The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick by Peter Handke (lewbs)
  19. 06
    Just Revenge by Alan M. Dershowitz (LCBrooks)
    LCBrooks: Complementary works that create a powerful foundation for a philosophical debate on revenge.
  20. 511
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (SanctiSpiritus)

(see all 21 recommendations)

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English (289)  French (9)  Spanish (8)  Italian (7)  Dutch (5)  Portuguese (2)  Danish (2)  German (2)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All (1)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  All (330)
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Excerpts from my ~2012 GR review:
- Camus was into a "philosophy of the absurd", denying any meaning to life. Kind of close to nihilism. But Camus vehemently denied an existential bent. But I'm splitting hairs. Bottom line on 2nd reading: a young guy, morally ambivalent, detached, gets caught up in a feud, kills an Arab under a blazing sun. I don't find this as transcendent as seems generally held. I certainly liked it enough that I'll read his later works, which are more absurdly complex... I appreciate the translator's choice to render 'maman' in its original (vs. 'mother' in earlier english translations). This simple reversion softens Meursault's otherwise insensitive characterization. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | May 11, 2018 |
I re-read this book just this past month. I don't think I'll change my initial rating. It was a very well written story, compelling even with the translation. Although the main character is cold and sociopathic, the study itself is important and well done. ( )
  homeschoolmimzi | Mar 31, 2018 |
As a dilettante translator I find this book fascinating, even though I don’t read French.

Literary texts are sacred and you cannot alter them; translations on the other hand are a more or less faithful reflection of the original text, but can be altered, changed, or renewed. Did Proust write "Remembrance of Things Past" or "In Search of Time Lost" or “In Search of Lost Time"? My favourite is Gabrielle Roy's "Bonheur d'occasion" published in English as "The Tin Flute". As a general point, a translation transmigrates one text for another; often the "mistakes" don't matter (to the monoglot reader). On the other hand, the title is the only part of a work of literature known even to those who haven't read it. I note in passing that étranger “doesn’t just mean "stranger" but also "foreigner", and in the colonial context, that could have been a possibility too. It's a bit like 9 to 5 by Sheena Easton and 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton.

I am very much of the view that it is a disservice to Camus to read L'Etranger as an allegory of abstract existentialism. It is essentially a reflection on the unique colonial experience that was French Algeria, and, in that aspect, the book should be taken as underlining that that experience was tragic, as for the Pieds-Noirs in general, and tragic in a personal sense for Camus himself. Camus was one of the greatest representatives of liberal universalism of the last century, and yet the liberal universalism that he expounded left him an outsider/stranger/foreigner within Algeria, once the war of independence began, and at the same time intellectually homeless in the France whose civilisation he was steeped in and to which he was culturally and politically committed. Had Camus lived to pass his 101st birthday, as with Herman Wouk, he might have felt vindicated by the collapse of Marxism-Leninism in Eastern Europe, but I am sure that he would have found the War on Terror to leave him feeling even stranger, foreign and an outsider in relation to the things that he cared about. When one surveys the horrors of the contemporary, who does not conclude that they stand as a stranger, outsider or foreigner as to what unfolds?

Meursault is a lonely, asocial, anomic outsider but (or because of it) he is also a foreigner, in that he is an European Frenchman in Algeria. Algeria is everywhere in the book and Algerians are glimpsed, as foreign characters themselves. Camus, an European Frenchman born to dirt-poor parents in Algeria, was acutely aware of that hiatus between perceived nationalities, which had yet to develop into the Algerian War. Camus saw himself primarily as a philosopher and a political writer. His novels always had to read from a political perspective - The Plague being a case in point. "The Foreigner" would be provocative, as the accepted notion then was that Algeria's inhabitants were French. But "L'Etranger" carried the same provocation, and IMHO on purpose. I would go for The Outsider as the correct translation, personally, but that's for three simple reasons:

Being also a "translator", I would by instinct (all due of course to personal experience) have opted for “Outsider” over “Stranger”...Meursault is part and not part of this world...he seems often to inhabit it in body only...his mine free, critical, questioning...he's far beyond those around him...outside of the expected norm... of course that could all be a subjective response on my part, due to the way i identify with the main character...In Spanish the translation of the book takes another direction altogether... El Extranjero... that is, the "Foreigner"... which in many respects could be both a stranger and an outsider...or perhaps even a fusion of both... A better title for the book could have been THE MISFIT, because the idea for the main character is that he doesn´t fit in the world where he lives and the morality of that society.

If Camus wrote it now, the book presumably wouldn`t be published, or at best would be torn apart by the critics. A book where the non-white, non-Christian locals barely get a look-in. How absolutely appalling.

NB: Despite being, since the 1930s, a staunch defender of indigenous Algerians against the injustices of the French colonial system, Camus was against Algerian independence, fearing that there would be no place for European Algerians in an independent Algeria ruled by the FLN, and that it would be disastrous for the Algerians too. While his hopes for a more enlightened French approach were illusory, his fears were not misplaced. The challenges of semiotics can be rather intense, especially in relation to geniuses such as Camus... It's one of my favourite novels, and my copy has always been the British translation. ( )
  antao | Mar 24, 2018 |
That was how I explained the peculiar impression I had of being out of place, a bit like an intruder.

[?] ( )
  EroticsOfThought | Feb 28, 2018 |
This one is hard to peg down. It comes with such a reputation of sophistication and subtle power that I am somewhat nervous to express my initial reaction: It's good. A worthy little tale. But immediately after closing it, I don't think much beyond than that.

At times, I thought The Stranger might be a poor man's Crime and Punishment, in which case I don't understand the praise as the murder is actually rather incidental to the theme. But my current assessment is that it is a more-or-less straightforward satire of nihilism. Meursault thinks life is nothing and death is nothing and having friends is nothing and having women is nothing, except pleasure, and killing is nothing and so being sentenced to death is nothing. He refuses to play their game, so he shrugs at the death sentence. Who cares – the nihilist says – you'll die one day anyway so why not today. When Meursault snaps at the priest at the end, is this parodying the vigour and passion with which supposed 'nihilists' push their philosophy?

I like this reading – that of straight satire that has been over-analyzed – and it explains a lot. But not all. It doesn't explain the final few pages, nor does it fit in neatly with the evident theme in which Meursault scoffs at certainty (they pass the verdict on him with a certainty that has not been evidenced by the shambolic nature of his trial). I am probably wrong in my assessment, but I also think English readers are ill-served by the translations. They are not poor translations (I rather like Matthew Ward's punchy, Americanized rendition) but the dispute over crucial passages – is it Maman or Mother? Gentle indifference or benign indifference? – makes it even harder to assess what is already a subtle novel, or at least harder to assess with confidence. Each of those examples I have just given change the entire complexion of the story, and you can never be sure if you have got the authentic Camus. For all the words you might want to expend on Camus' philosophy, The Stranger also serves as an illustration of some of the perils of literary translation.

Regardless of whichever assessment of the story I shall eventually settle on, it certainly wouldn't be one that chastises the book. For it is a well-wrought book: punchy, concise and with plenty of black humour. (Camus is always readable even when talking about big philosophical themes, and that is his big draw as a writer.) Contrary to most, it seems, I actually preferred the first part to the second. In the first part, the black humour is stronger and I always like narrators who engage cynically with the world and the people around them. The second seemed to go off in a different direction, and I dwelt on the last few pages to try and find what other people have said is the brilliance there, but I have yet to find it.

So, yeah, I've wasted your time, reader. I don't really have an assessment of the book. At least not one of worth to anyone, and it's rare that I don't feel I can make even a small contribution to the discussion after I have read a book. But the sands here always seem to be shifting, and I think I'll have to come back to this beach someday. My inability to peg down The Stranger might even have an absurdist flavour to it that Camus would be pleased to hear. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Feb 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 289 (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 (62 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Camus, Albertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bree, GermaineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brenner, Hans GeorgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohen, Marc J.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunwoodie, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, StuartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goyert, GeorgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, BarnabyPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laredo, JamesTranslatorsecondary 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.
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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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.
Haiku summary
Je suis étranger.

Aujourd'hui, maman est morte.

Et je ne pleure pas.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679720200, Paperback)

The Stranger is not merely one of the most widely read novels of the 20th century, but one of the books likely to outlive it. Written in 1946, Camus's compelling and troubling tale of a disaffected, apparently amoral young man has earned a durable popularity (and remains a staple of U.S. high school literature courses) in part because it reveals so vividly the anxieties of its time. Alienation, the fear of anonymity, spiritual doubt--all could have been given a purely modern inflection in the hands of a lesser talent than Camus, who won the Nobel Prize in 1957 and was noted for his existentialist aesthetic. The remarkable trick of The Stranger, however, is that it's not mired in period philosophy.

The plot is simple. A young Algerian, Meursault, afflicted with a sort of aimless inertia, becomes embroiled in the petty intrigues of a local pimp and, somewhat inexplicably, ends up killing a man. Once he's imprisoned and eventually brought to trial, his crime, it becomes apparent, is not so much the arguably defensible murder he has committed as it is his deficient character. The trial's proceedings are absurd, a parsing of incidental trivialities--that Meursault, for instance, seemed unmoved by his own mother's death and then attended a comic movie the evening after her funeral are two ostensibly damning facts--so that the eventual sentence the jury issues is both ridiculous and inevitable.

Meursault remains a cipher nearly to the story's end--dispassionate, clinical, disengaged from his own emotions. "She wanted to know if I loved her," he says of his girlfriend. "I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn't mean anything but that I probably didn't." There's a latent ominousness in such observations, a sense that devotion is nothing more than self-delusion. It's undoubtedly true that Meursault exhibits an extreme of resignation; however, his confrontation with "the gentle indifference of the world" remains as compelling as it was when Camus first recounted it. --Ben Guterson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:42 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A young Algerian, Meursault, afflicted with a sort of aimless inertia, becomes embroiled in the petty intrigues of a local pimp and, somewhat inexplicably, ends up killing a man. Once he's imprisoned and eventually brought to trial, his crime, it becomes apparent, is not so much the arguably defensible murder he has committed as it is his deficient character. In the story of an ordinary man who unwittingly gets drawn into a senseless murder on a sun-drenched Algerian beach, Camus was exploring what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd". Now in a new American translation, the classic has been given new life for generations to come.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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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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