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L'Étranger

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Narrateur de sa propre histoire, Meursault décrit avec un total détachement l'absurdité des actes de sa vie quotidienne, depuis l'annonce de la mort de sa mère jusqu'à l'acte définitif qu'il sera amené à commettre. Ce n'est qu'à l'heure de la mort que s'exprimeront sa passion de vivre et sa révolte. L'une des oeuvres majeures et des plus troublantes de la littérature du XXè Narrateur de sa propre histoire, Meursault décrit avec un total détachement l'absurdité des actes de sa vie quotidienne, depuis l'annonce de la mort de sa mère jusqu'à l'acte définitif qu'il sera amené à commettre. Ce n'est qu'à l'heure de la mort que s'exprimeront sa passion de vivre et sa révolte. L'une des oeuvres majeures et des plus troublantes de la littérature du XXème siècle.


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Narrateur de sa propre histoire, Meursault décrit avec un total détachement l'absurdité des actes de sa vie quotidienne, depuis l'annonce de la mort de sa mère jusqu'à l'acte définitif qu'il sera amené à commettre. Ce n'est qu'à l'heure de la mort que s'exprimeront sa passion de vivre et sa révolte. L'une des oeuvres majeures et des plus troublantes de la littérature du XXè Narrateur de sa propre histoire, Meursault décrit avec un total détachement l'absurdité des actes de sa vie quotidienne, depuis l'annonce de la mort de sa mère jusqu'à l'acte définitif qu'il sera amené à commettre. Ce n'est qu'à l'heure de la mort que s'exprimeront sa passion de vivre et sa révolte. L'une des oeuvres majeures et des plus troublantes de la littérature du XXème siècle.

30 review for L'Étranger

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    I don’t know what to do with these stars anymore. I give stars to books and then I think, ‘god, you give five stars to everything, people will think you are terribly undiscriminating’ – so then I give four stars or even three stars to some books. Then I look back and it turns out that that I’ve given four stars to Of Human Bondage and honestly, how could I possibly have thought it was a good idea to give that book less than five stars? It is the absurdity of human conventions that has us doing s I don’t know what to do with these stars anymore. I give stars to books and then I think, ‘god, you give five stars to everything, people will think you are terribly undiscriminating’ – so then I give four stars or even three stars to some books. Then I look back and it turns out that that I’ve given four stars to Of Human Bondage and honestly, how could I possibly have thought it was a good idea to give that book less than five stars? It is the absurdity of human conventions that has us doing such things. Now, that is what is called a segue, from the Italian ‘seguire’ – to follow. For the last thirty years I have studiously avoided reading this book. I have done that because for the last thirty years I have known exactly what this book is about and there just didn’t seem any point in reading it. In high school friends (one of them even became my ex-wife) told me it was a great book about a man condemned to die because he was an outsider. Later I was told that this book was a story about something much like the Azaria Chamberlain case. A case where someone does not react in a way that is considered to be ‘socially appropriate’ and is therefore condemned. But after 30 years of avoiding reading this book I have finally relented and read it. At first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it. It didn’t really get off to the raciest of starts and the character's voice – it is told in first person – was a bit dull. He is a man who lives entirely in the present, how terribly Buddhist of him – although, really there doesn’t seem to be all that much to him. My opinion of the book began to change at his mother’s funeral. I particularly liked the man who kept falling behind in the march to the cemetery and would take short cuts. Okay, so it is black humour, but Camus was more or less French – so black humour is more or less obligatory. I really hadn’t expected this book to be nearly so funny as it turned out. I’d always been told it was a ponderous philosophical text – and so, to be honest, I was expecting to be bored out of my skull. I wasn’t in the least bit bored. A constant theme in my life at present is that I read ‘classics’ expecting them to be about something and they end up being about something completely different. And given I’ve called this a ‘constant’ theme then you might think I would be less than surprised when a read a new ‘classic’ and it turns out to be completely different to my expectations. I’m a little more upset about this one than some of the others, as I’ve been told about this one before, repeatedly, and by people I’d have taken as ‘reputable sources’ – although, frankly, how well one should trust one’s ex-wife in such matters is moot. I had gotten the distinct impression from all of my previous discussions about this book that the guy ends up dead. In fact, this is not the case – he ends up at the point in his life where he has no idea if he will be freed or not. The Priest who comes to him at the end is actually quite certain that he will be freed. Let’s face it, he is only guilty of having murdered an Arab, and as we have daily evidence, Westerners can murder Arabs with complete impunity. The main point of the book to me is when he realises he is no longer ‘free’. He needs this explained to him – because life up until then had been about ‘getting used to things’ and one can 'get used to just about anything'. But the prison guard helpfully informs him that he is being ‘punished’ and the manifestation of that punishment is the removal of his ‘freedom’. Interestingly, he didn’t notice the difference between his past ‘free’ life and his current ‘unfree’ one. The most interesting part of the book to me was the very end, the conversation with the priest. The religious often make the mistake of thinking that Atheists are one thing – I’ve no idea how they ever came to make this mistake, but make it they do. Given that there are thousands upon thousands of different shades of Christians – from Jesuit Catholics to Anti-Disney Episcopalians – it should be fairly obvious that something like Atheism (without any ‘organised’ church or even system of beliefs) could not be in anyway ‘homogeneous’. I am definitely not the same kind of Atheist as Camus. To Camus there is no truth, the world is essentially absurd and all that exists is the relative truth an individual places on events and ideas. This makes the conversation with the priest fascinatingly interesting. To the priest the prisoner who is facing death is – by necessity – someone who is interested in God. You can play around with ideas like the non-existence of God when it doesn’t seem to matter (life is long and blasphemy can seem fun) – but surely when confronted with the stark truth of the human condition any man would turn away from their disbelief and see the shining light. Not this little black duck. Now, if I was in that cell I would have argued with the priest too – but I would not have argued in the same way that Meursault argues. No, I do not believe in God, but I do believe in truth, and so Camus’ arguments are barred to me. Meursault essentially says, “Look, I’m bored, I’m totally uninterested in the rubbish you are talking – now go away”. Now, this is a reasonable response. What is very interesting is that the priest cannot accept this as an answer. The world is not allowed to have such a person in it – if such a person really did exist then it would be a fundamental challenge to the core beliefs of the priest. So, he has to assume Meursault is either lying to him or is trying to taunt him. But it is much worse – he is absolutely sincere, he is not interested in this ‘truth’. I don’t know that the world is completely meaningless, it is conventional rather than meaningless. That those conventions are arbitrary (decided by the culture we grew up in) doesn’t make them meaningless, it makes them conventional. I don’t think I would like to live in a world where people go up and kill Arabs pretty much at random and with impunity, but then again, we have already established this is precisely the world I do live in. My point is that it would be better if we did adhere to some sort of moral principles and that these should be better principles than ‘he should be killed because he didn’t cry at his mum’s funeral’. Camus is seeking to say that all of our ‘moral principles’ in the end come to be as meaningless as that – we judge on the basis of what we see from the framework of our own limited experience. And look, yes, there is much to this – but this ends up being too easy. The thing I like most about Existentialism, though it isn’t really as evident in this book as it is in the actual philosophy – although this is something that Meursault is supposed to have grown to understand (sorry, just one more sub-clause) even though this wasn’t something I noticed at all while reading the book, was the notion of responsibility. I didn’t think in the end Meursault was all that much more ‘responsible’ for his actions than he had been at the start. But I do think that ‘responsibility’ is a key concept in morality and one that seems increasingly to be ignored. Better by far that we feel responsible for too much in our lives than too little – better by far that we take responsibility for the actions of our governments (say) than to call these governments ‘them’. I’m not advocating believing in The Secret - but that if one must err, better to err on the side of believing you have too much responsibility for how your life has turned out, rather than too little. So, what can I say? I enjoyed this much more than I expected – but I’m still glad I waited before reading it, I really don’t think I would have gotten nearly as much out of it at 15 as I did now.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Albert Camus’ 1942 classic. Here are the opening lines: “Mother died today Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The telegram from the Home says: YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY.” A telegram, not a personal phone call or someone on staff from the old people’s home actually making the hour trip in person to inform her only son, but a terse three line businesslike telegram – cold, insensitive, almost callous; a telling sign of the mechanized times. Then first-person narrat Albert Camus’ 1942 classic. Here are the opening lines: “Mother died today Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The telegram from the Home says: YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY.” A telegram, not a personal phone call or someone on staff from the old people’s home actually making the hour trip in person to inform her only son, but a terse three line businesslike telegram – cold, insensitive, almost callous; a telling sign of the mechanized times. Then first-person narrator Monsieur Meursault has to deal with his manager so he can attend his mother’s funeral: “I have fixed up with my employer for two days’ leave; obviously, under the circumstances, he couldn’t refuse. Still, I had an idea he looked annoyed, and I said, without thinking: ”Sorry, sir, but it’s not my fault, you know.”” Ha! Camus’ subtle irony, a statement on how death is an irritating inconvenience in the urbanized modern world of shipping offices, where time is money and the highest value is utility and efficiency. Then, when Meursault sits beside the Home’s keeper in the room with his mother’s coffin, we read: “The glare of the white walls was making my eyes smart, and I asked him if he couldn’t turn off one of the lamps. “Nothing doing,” he said. “They’d arranged the lights like that; either one had them all on or none at all.” Most revealing. This is the only time at the Home Meursault actually asks for something. And true to form as archetypal keeper, the answer is standard binary, that is, all or nothing, black or white, on or off; certainly not even considering engaging in a creative solution on behalf of Meursault, who, after all, is the son. Reading this section about the Home’s officious keeper and his world of expected behaviors and standardized, routinized procedures reminds me of the doorkeeper in Kafka’s tale, Before the Law. The next day, the day of the funeral procession, Meursault observes, “The sky was already a blaze of light, and the air stoking up rapidly. I felt the first waves of heat lapping my back, and my dark suit made things worse. I couldn’t imagine why we waited so long before getting under way.” This is one of a number of his remarks on his sensations and feelings, and, for good reason – Meursault’s way of being in the world is primarily on the level of sensation and feeling. Back in the city and after taking a swim with Marie, a girlfriend he ran into at the local swimming pool, there’s a clip of dialogue where Meursault relates: “While we were drying ourselves on the edge of the swimming pool she said: “I’m browner than you.” I asked her if she’d come to the movies with me that evening. She laughed again and said, “Yes,” if I’d take her to the comedy everybody was talking about, the one with Fernandel in it.” Meursault does acquiesce to her request. Big mistake. Turns out, according to society’s unwritten rules, taking Marie to Fernandel’s farcical comedy on the very next evening after his mother’s funeral was a colossal no-no, completely unacceptable behavior. We as given laser-sharp glimpses of various facets of our enigmatic first-person narrator as he moves through his everyday routine in the following days and evenings, routine, that is, until the unforgettable scene with the Arab on the beach, one of the most famous scenes in all of modern literature. Here are Camus’ words via Stuart Gilbert’s marvelous translation: The Arab didn’t move. After all, there was still some distance between us. Perhaps because of the shadow on his face, he seemed to be grinning at me. I waited. The heat was beginning to scorch my cheeks; beads of sweat were gathered in my eyebrows. It was just the same sort of heat as my mother’s funeral, and I had the same disagreeable sensations – especially in my forehead, where all the veins seemed to be bursting through the skin. I couldn’t stand it an longer, and took another step forward. I knew it was a fool thing to do; I wouldn’t get out of the sun by moving on a yard or so. But I took that step, just one step, forward,. And then the Arab drew his knife and held it up toward me, athwart the sunlight. A shaft of light shot upward from the steel, and I felt as if a long, thin blade transfixed my forehead. At the same moment all the sweat that had accumulated in my eyebrows splashed down on my eyelids, covering them with a warm film of of moisture. Beneath a veil of brine and tears my eyes were blinded; I was conscious only of the cymbals of the sun clashing on my skull, and, less distinctly, of the keen blade of light flashing up from the knife, scarring my eyelashes, and gouging into my eyeballs. Then everything began to reel before my eyes, a fiery gust came from the sea, while the sky cracked in two, from end to end, and a great sheet of flame poured down through the rift. Every nerve in my body was a steel spring, and my grip closed on the revolver. The trigger gave, and the smooth underbelly of the butt jogged my palm. This novel poses such provocative questions, I wouldn’t want to spoil any of those questions with answers, semi-original or otherwise. Rather, my suggestion is to read and reread this slim novel as carefully and attentively as possible. One last reflection: one of my favorite scenes is where Meursault enters the courtroom and makes the following observation: “Just then I noticed that almost all the people in the courtroom were greeting each other, exchanging remarks and forming groups – behaving, in fact, as in a club where the company of others of one’s own tastes and standing makes one feel at ease. That, no doubt, explained the odd impression I had of being de trop here, a sort of gate-crasher.” Such a comment on the dynamics of the modern world: a man is about to go on trial with his life in the balance and he is the one who feels out-of-place. How many times in life have you felt out-of-place entering a room? Have you ever considered yourself a stranger to those around you? Perhaps our modern world can be seen as The Stranger, thus making each and every one of us strangers. Love or hate it, Camus’ short novel speaks to our condition. One final reflection: I would not be surprised if Albert Camus read this prose poem by Charles Baudelaire: THE STRANGER Tell me, enigmatic man, whom do you love best? Your father, your mother, your sister, or your brother? "I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother." Your friends, then? "You use a word that until now has had no meaning for me." Your country? "I am ignorant of the latitude in which it is situated." Then Beauty? "Her I would love willingly, goddess and immortal." Gold? "I hate it as you hate your God." What, then, extraordinary stranger, do you love? "I love the clouds—the clouds that pass—yonder—the marvelous clouds."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ryan R

    The book is simply written and a rather quick read, but the depth Camus manages to convey through this simplicity is astounding. I think a problem a lot of people have with this book is that they fail to look beyond the whole "what is the meaning of life" message. While an interesting question, the book raises so many other philosophical questions beyond this. What I found the most interesting of these is "what truly defines humanity or makes someone human?" During Meursault's trial, he is const The book is simply written and a rather quick read, but the depth Camus manages to convey through this simplicity is astounding. I think a problem a lot of people have with this book is that they fail to look beyond the whole "what is the meaning of life" message. While an interesting question, the book raises so many other philosophical questions beyond this. What I found the most interesting of these is "what truly defines humanity or makes someone human?" During Meursault's trial, he is constantly accused of not showing remorse and therefore as being cold and inhuman. He is most definitely human though, just rather detached. This raises the question of whether one should be expected to exhibit certain characteristics in certain situations to "keep their humanity". Also it raises the question of whether much of our emotion is created by ourselves or the expectations of others to exhibit certain emotions in a given sitatuion. The book is also an indictment on people's efforts to dictate other people's lives. We are constantly told what is right and as a means to justify our own sense of "what it means to be human". We often impose these characteristics upon others, expecting them to fulfill similar traits and characteristics, as they have been already imposed on us. It is in a way, a self-justification of our actions as right or "humanly". Constantly, Meursault is being told he must live and/or act a certain way, whether it be by the judge, his lawyer, or the priest. Once he doesn't conform to these measures, he is marginalized and called "inhuman"; this is an attempt on the part of the others to rationalize their own ways of life and understandings. If they manage to declare him "inhuman", it allows them to call themselves human and justify their own means of living. In the end, this book is one that raises many more questions than it answers, but in true philosophical fashion, they are really questions without answers.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    If You Exist "The Stranger" dramatises the issues at the heart of existentialism. The same issues are probably at the heart of life, whether or not you believe in a god. Being Judged It's interesting that there has been a crime and now Meursault is being "judged". The judgement is symbolic not only of the justice system, but of God's judgement of humanity. Defending Yourself You would normally expect the defendant to assert their innocence or plead not guilty in the criminal justice system (cue Law and If You Exist "The Stranger" dramatises the issues at the heart of existentialism. The same issues are probably at the heart of life, whether or not you believe in a god. Being Judged It's interesting that there has been a crime and now Meursault is being "judged". The judgement is symbolic not only of the justice system, but of God's judgement of humanity. Defending Yourself You would normally expect the defendant to assert their innocence or plead not guilty in the criminal justice system (cue Law and Order theme song). Both options require the defendant to take a positive step, only they differ in degree. To assert your "innocence" is to positively state that "I didn't do it". A plea of "not guilty" would place an onus on the prosecutor to prove the defendant's guilt (although there are significant differences between the French system of justice and that of the UK/USA/Canada/Australia/etc). To plead not guilty can mean a number of things. It could mean that "I did actually do it", but you, the prosecutor, have to prove to the Judge or Court that I did it. It could mean that "I did actually do it", but I have a defence or justification that means it is not a punishable crime (e.g., self-defence or provocation). Asking Forgiveness This process is partly analogous to the situation when a Christian dies and meets their God. If they have sinned, you would expect them to ask forgiveness. Having been forgiven, they would expect to go to Heaven. Not Defending Yourself One of the dilemmas of "The Stranger" is that morally and legally there might be issues that Meursault could put to the Judge that would excuse his action and allow the Judge to find him not guilty. He could then go "free". He could have argued that his action was self-defence or the result of provocation. He could have "got off", if he had taken a positive step on his own behalf. However, he fails to take the step. If he was a Christian (i.e., if he believed in God), he might have wanted to prolong his life on Earth. His life would have had some meaning and he would have wanted more of it. Similarly, if he was a Christian, he would have been motivated to seek eternal life in Heaven. So he would have taken the positive step. What's the Point? Instead, against all expectation, he doesn't defend himself. We are left to wonder why. We have to assume that Meursault effectively asked the questions of himself, "What is the point? Why should I bother?" And we have to assume that he answered the questions, "There is no point". Achieving Your Own Mortality There was no point in prolonging his life and, not believing in Heaven, there was no point in seeking eternal life. He had lived a life (however long or short, however good or bad, however satisfying or unsatisfying) and it didn't really matter that his life might come to an end. The point is that, sooner or later, all life must come to an end. By failing to take a "positive" step on his own behalf, he effectively collaborated in and achieved his own mortality. He existed while he was alive, he would have ceased to exist when he was executed. If he wasn't executed, he would have died sooner or later. Ultimately, he "enjoyed" his life while he had it, he didn't care enough to prolong it and he accepted the inevitability of his own death. Is Despair the Explanation? This doesn't necessarily mean that he embraced despair as a way of life (or death). In a way, he accepted responsibility for his own actions during life and he accepted responsibility for the inevitability of his own death as well. Ultimately, this is why "The Stranger" and Existentialism are so confronting to Christianity and Western Civilisation. It makes us ask the question "what is the point?" and it permits an answer that "there is no point". Responsibility This doesn't mean that life is meaningless and everybody else should live their lives in despair. Quite the opposite. We should inject our own meaning into our own lives. We are responsible for our own fulfilment. Life is short and we should just get on with it. (Or as a friend of mine says, everybody is responsible for their own orgasm.) Such is life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    A short review because there are so many other good reviews of this classic. When I first read this eons ago, I assumed “the stranger” was the Arab man that the main character kills on the beach. (It’s set in Algeria.) Not so. Meursault, the main character, is a man without feelings and one incapable of feeling remorse. Those deficiencies show at his mother’s death when he does not cry and does not even seem terribly upset. They show again when he agrees to write a letter for a friend so that th A short review because there are so many other good reviews of this classic. When I first read this eons ago, I assumed “the stranger” was the Arab man that the main character kills on the beach. (It’s set in Algeria.) Not so. Meursault, the main character, is a man without feelings and one incapable of feeling remorse. Those deficiencies show at his mother’s death when he does not cry and does not even seem terribly upset. They show again when he agrees to write a letter for a friend so that the friend can invite his ex-girlfriend back so he can beat her up. Mostly they are revealed when he shoots a stranger - an Arab – after an altercation on the beach. Five shots: first one, a pause, and then four more. The “four more” is what eventually gets him convicted. He lives in a poor, violent neighborhood where, when one man’s wife dies, he starts beating his dog instead of his wife. “As for the dog, he’s sort of taken on his master’s stooped look, muzzle down, neck straining. They look as if they belong to the same species, and yet they hate each other.” Meursault has a girlfriend that he likes, but mostly he doesn’t care about her one way or the other. These two passages say it all: “A minute later she asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so. She looked sad.” And “That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to.” His boss at a shipping company asks him if he want to be transferred to a job in Paris. “Then he asked me if I wasn’t interested in a change of life. I said that people never change their lives, that in any case one life was as good as another…” At his trial for the murder, he feels that the prosecutor and his lawyer are arguing in a way that has nothing to do with him. He has a surge of feeling that he is dying to say something but then thinks “But on second thought, I didn’t have anything to say.” When he’s convicted and sentenced to death, he also acts as if it’s no big deal. “But everybody knows life isn’t worth living….Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter.” The book is a classic early modern work of anomie, alienation and a general indifference to life. It’s also perhaps a spin-off from Crime and Punishment. Today, a novel like this would take us back to Meursault’s childhood to show us why he turned out like this. Camus doesn’t do that, so we can only speculate – or, perhaps, attribute it to genetics. As a classic in English translation a lot has been made of its opening and closing sentences. In the edition I read the first sentence is translated as “Maman died today.” Should it be “Today, mother died?” On the last page is a sentence: “…I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.” Should it be instead, “I laid my heart open to the gentle indifference of the universe?” I’m reminded of the review I did of Mogens by Jens Peter Jacobsen where the foreword tells us that the author felt it would be a different story if it began “It was summer,” rather than “Summer it was…” Still a great classic. Beni Said Beach from skyscrapercity.com Photo of the author from port-magazine.com

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    y'know it's quite impressive that Camus managed to write a whole novel from the perspective of that guy who you always avoid at house parties.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luca Ambrosino

    English (The Stranger) / Italiano "The Stranger" was suggested to me by the protagonist of another book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Actually, many books are cited in "The Perks of being a Wallflower", but "The Stranger" is the book that intrigued more the protagonist and me.Meursault is a modest employee of French extraction who lives in Algiers. He lives his daily routine with indifference, unable to openly manifest even the simplest emotions. And it is with apathy that English (The Stranger) / Italiano "The Stranger" was suggested to me by the protagonist of another book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Actually, many books are cited in "The Perks of being a Wallflower", but "The Stranger" is the book that intrigued more the protagonist and me.Meursault is a modest employee of French extraction who lives in Algiers. He lives his daily routine with indifference, unable to openly manifest even the simplest emotions. And it is with apathy that he learns the news of the death of his mother, who lived her last years in a hospice."Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure."And it is again with apathy that one day, going to the beach with friends, Meursault kills an Arab. Emotionless, he undergoes the arrest and the consequent process, calmly accepting the inevitability of his destiny. Not a hero or an antihero, Meursault is the stranger par excellence, alien to all the emotional manifestations that are common to humans, more similar to an Asimovian android than to a man.A small book that is consumed in one day, but it eats away at you for weeks.Vote: 8 "Lo Straniero" mi è stato suggerito dal protagonista di un altro libro, Noi siamo infinito di Stephen Chbosky. In realtà se ne citano tanti di libri, in "Noi siamo Infinito", ma "Lo Straniero" è quello che più ha incuriosito il protagonista ed il sottoscritto.Meursault è un modesto impiegato di origine francesi che vive ad Algeri. Vive la routine quotidiana con indifferenza, incapace di manifestare apertamente perfino le emozioni più semplici. Ed è con apatia che apprende la notizia della morte della madre, da tempo relegata in un ospizio."Oggi è morta mamma. O forse ieri, non so."Ed è sempre con apatia che un giorno, recatosi in spiaggia con amici, Meursault uccide un arabo. Impassibile, subisce l'arresto ed il conseguente processo, accettando con calma l'ineluttabilità del suo destino. Né eroe né antieroe, Meursault è lo straniero per antonomasia, estraneo a tutte le manifestazioni emotive comuni agli esseri umani, simile più a un androide asimoviano che ad un uomo.Un piccolo libro che si consuma in un giorno, ma che continua a roderti dentro per settimane.Voto: 8

  8. 4 out of 5

    karen

    THIS MAN'S MOM DIES HE FEELS NOTHING. come to my blog!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I just finished reading this famous - classic story. All this time I had no idea what it was about. What an interesting little book. I enjoyed reading in the same way that I have "Siddartha", by Herman Hesse, or "The Alchemist", by Paulo Coelho. It's a brilliant small book - especially knowing it was written so long ago: 1942..... but it's timeless. Is everything the same as everything else? Does it matter who we marry or if we marry? Does it matter if we live or die? Must murder have a meaning? I just finished reading this famous - classic story. All this time I had no idea what it was about. What an interesting little book. I enjoyed reading in the same way that I have "Siddartha", by Herman Hesse, or "The Alchemist", by Paulo Coelho. It's a brilliant small book - especially knowing it was written so long ago: 1942..... but it's timeless. Is everything the same as everything else? Does it matter who we marry or if we marry? Does it matter if we live or die? Must murder have a meaning? Whose challenge is it when a person's behavior- is much less traditional than popular opinion? His? Or...everyone else around him? And who decides what is meaningful and purposeful in life anyway? Is it possible things are simply 'made up'.... and then we agree what is more important than something else? This book reminds me- "that life is a game". It is what it is. The game is how we play it: we add our beliefs - thoughts - feelings - choices. We 'add' meaning to "what is". Life is interpretation.... and Camus's main character, Meursault, doesn't blindly accept conventional meaning which is often impose on the world. He accepts his fate - yet not passively. He's clear he did something wrong. He's expecting others to be outraged. It accepts it all. So... we, the reader, are left to draw many of our own conclusions-or not -but we are certainly invited to take a look at the deeper meaning of life. Love the simple straightforward prose.....and personally I found Meursault charming and likable. I liked his strangeness!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    If every few words of praise I’ve seen for “The Stranger” over my lifetime materialized into small chunks of rock in space, there’d be enough sh!t to conjure up the Oort Cloud. Much like this distant collection of debris bordering the outer solar system, I can’t really comprehend the acclaim heaped on this story, but luckily, like the Cloud, it’s usually out of sight, out of mind, and has absolutely no discernable current influence on my life. And just like the Oort can occasionally spit a chunk If every few words of praise I’ve seen for “The Stranger” over my lifetime materialized into small chunks of rock in space, there’d be enough sh!t to conjure up the Oort Cloud. Much like this distant collection of debris bordering the outer solar system, I can’t really comprehend the acclaim heaped on this story, but luckily, like the Cloud, it’s usually out of sight, out of mind, and has absolutely no discernable current influence on my life. And just like the Oort can occasionally spit a chunk of sh!t at the earth and devastate all life upon it, so too can I hear/read some lip service paid to “The Stranger” resulting in my transition to Freak-Out Mode, resulting in me slapping someone in the face, usually someone I have to deal with again at some point in time (if only in court). Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. Armed with a 100-word vocabulary, a meager 123 pages to bore one with, and a character who simply doesn’t seem to give much of a damn, Camus somehow shook the world of literature with this inane garbage. I haven’t sat down to conduct a thorough analysis, but using some reasonable guesstimation I will say that the average sentence in this book is about eight words long. I’m not asking that every sentence in a book run the length of a page, but the end result when employed by Camus was that either a twelve year old or some sort of retarded robot wrote this. (Cue robot voice) It struck me as strange. The sentences were so short. It was very peculiar. This could be read very fast. I began to read this on the train on my in to work. I finished it on my way back home. Who the hell writes like that? More importantly, who the hell reads a book like that and suspects therein lay some complexity? Each time I noticed how condensed everything was it occurred to me that somehow the literati had spent all this time adoring the published equivalent of a commercial. Here’s a snapshot of the dude we’re supposed to give a hoot about. He doesn’t readily assimilate to or accept the conventional mores everyone else seems accustomed to. He’s not overly concerned, but he seemingly knows there’s some kind of disconnect. He’s also not out to go f#ck with the system for lack of anything better to do or in some attempt to make a statement. He’s pretty emotionless, he shows some genuine concern for himself at times, but even those close to him really aren’t too significant in his grand picture. His testicles are extremely small and sterile, and he fondles them often. Not long after the death of his mother, Our Hero is chilling on the beach when some Arabs come around looking to start sh!t with an acquaintance of his, and after a small skirmish earlier in the day, Our Man goes back down to the beach and shoots an Arab. He gets arrested and pretty much just goes with the flow, he rolls over and let’s the prosecution have their way with his scrawny white ass. The whole time he pretty much just thinks it’s all pretty ridiculous and isn’t too concerned with the proceedings. I wasn’t too concerned about the book. More than anything I was just bored with it. There was no build up, there was no action, there was no climax. There was nothing funny, nothing exciting, nothing interesting, and nothing to really take away from the book; just the same words repeating over and over, grouped in strings of seven or eight. The longest sentence in the book was also the only thing which I found even remotely amusing: “Finally I realized that some of the old people were sucking at the insides of their cheeks and making these weird smacking noises”. That isn’t particularly funny, but compared to the rest of the book it was comedic gold. “The Stranger” is some seriously weak shit. I’ve gotten more enjoyment from looking a map of Kentucky.

  11. 5 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    ‘It was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.’ Even if we exist in a world devoid of meaning, why is it that our actions still bear so much weight? The crime and punishment of Nobel Prize winning author Albert Camus’ academically canonized The Stranger depicts the ironies of enforcing meaning in a void and the absurdities that surround us as humans walking towards the same cold, lifeless fate. ‘Since we're all going to die,’ writes narrator Meursault, ‘it's obvious that when ‘It was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.’ Even if we exist in a world devoid of meaning, why is it that our actions still bear so much weight? The crime and punishment of Nobel Prize winning author Albert Camus’ academically canonized The Stranger depicts the ironies of enforcing meaning in a void and the absurdities that surround us as humans walking towards the same cold, lifeless fate. ‘Since we're all going to die,’ writes narrator Meursault, ‘it's obvious that when and how don't matter.’ Yet, when and how define a life, especially when the the why is a direct consequence of a life lived, though do our lives truly matter at all? These questions rattle across the pages of this fantastic character study revolving around a courtroom character judgement of the narrator, a courtroom of suits flanking a judge that might as well be angels flanking the pearly gates of Christian lore. The Stranger is a lesson in absurdity and investigative analysis of a life faced with the ‘benign indifference of the world’. ‘There is not love of life without despair about life.’ Meursault is a man of few words or convictions beyond those that choices rarely make much difference in the grand scheme of the world. Yet it is his choices that damn him in this world, especially by those who believe that his actions damn him in a next world that probably doesn’t even exist according to our narrator. While most decisions really don’t amount to much of a difference, there are still those which inevitably set life in different directions, such as to pull the trigger or not to pull the trigger, ‘To stay or to go, it amounted to the same thing’. This is a man not unsatisfied with life but feeling on the outside of it, moving through the world as he sees fit, and being denied life by men with a God-like arrogance for believing their word and opinions are firm law when really they are as meaningless and insignificant as any other creature. However, this is not a story of the condemners, but of the condemned. It is important to note that Meursault is, for all intents and purposes, an ‘everyman’, one that exists in all of us even if we surpress or deny it. ‘I felt the urge to reassure him that I was like everybody else, just like everybody else,’ and it isn’t Meursault on trial, but all of us. It is the collective human soul with all our errors, intentional or not, on trial for existing in a world that probably doesn’t matter or care. ‘Maman died today,’¹ begins The Stranger’, an event setting everything into motion. Part One of the novel focuses on the funeral, and more importantly its aftermath. As we watch Meursault awkwardly press through a funeral he feels detached from, more inclined to discuss how the weather and present company ill-effect him than the loss of a mother. It occurred to me anyway that one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed. Following the funeral The Stranger chronicles Meursault’s relations with the living and the natural world, most critically concerning his courtship of Marie. Marie, it would seem, figures as an Oedipal substitute for his Maman². Whereas the relationship with Maman is cold and detached, the two of them separating much out of boredom with one another, his relationship with Marie is full of excitement and hot-blooded sexual flair, yet the text is full of imagery nudging towards Oedipal impulses. There is a fixation with her breasts, which are frequently mentioned and sought after by the motherless Meursault, or the tender moment when he seeks out Marie’s scent on the pillow and falls asleep in the warm embrace of bed and scent, a fairly childlike and soul-bearing act. Meursault’s relationships lead him down a path that ends with senseless murder (as senseless as everything else may be a question worth considering), and while we put a moral weight on the difference between intentionally pulling the trigger or the trigger going off from being overcome by the sun and heat, is there truly any difference at all since both lead to a body bleeding out on the beach? This murder, and the absolutely brilliant final line of ‘knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness’—one of my favorites in all of literature—propels the reader into Part Two. Here we have find Meursault denied the sunsoaked scenes of nature and friendship of the outside world, and the sexuality so rampant in part one as he finds himself now beset by the cold indifferent stone walls of prison. The world of part one only whispers through the bars. There is still the overwhelming warmth, but this is more akin to hellfire in a judgement scene where mortal flesh takes on the role of an Almighty judge in an investigation of Meursault’s character. Meursault describes the utter absurdity of being the true focus of the trial, but being forced to sit silent as others do all the deciding and discussing as if he didn’t matter one bit. It also seems strange that the murder is not the primary discussion, but the actions of relations leading up to it. Did Meursault love his mother, was he in the circle of criminals, and other moral characteristics of the man seem to be the deciding factor of his fate, a trial that reads like a Holy decision into either Heaven or Hell while actually being a decision that would remove him from this worldly courtroom to the immortal courtroom, if that is to be believed (certainly by the lawyers but denied by Meursault). I realized then that a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison. He would have enough memories to keep him from being bored. Being left with only having your past life, full of its joys and transgressions, to either comfort or haunt you for what feels like eternity reads much like an expression of an afterlife. If there is one, then life has meaning, but what if there isn’t one and we don’t have to atone for our actions? ‘It is better to burn than to disappear.’ The Stranger is a probing look into the folds of existence, and one that forces you to consider your own life and it’s place under all those indifferent stars. The writing is crisp and immediate, and the effect is nearly overwhelming and all-encompassing in its beauty and insight. I read this in high school and have now re-read it in preparation for The Meursault Investigation. I found it to be much more meaningful to me as an adult as I found it then, though I enjoyed it equally both times. When a reader is young, the ideas seem engaging and attractive, but more like a hat one can put on and remove when they are done and move on. As an adult, having been through much more and having experienced bleak moments and bottom-of-the-well nights where life truly felt absurd and devoid of meaning or warmth, Meursault didn’t seem so distant or theoretical but like a life we’ve all lived and tried to forget. The Stranger has earned it’s place in the literary canon as well as deep within my heart. 4.5/5 ‘I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.’ ¹ There is a fascinating article from the New Yorker discussing the various translations of the opening line. I tend to prefer their own version, which has never been put into the novel that it should read ‘Today, Maman died’ as Meursault exists in the here and now, and that the death of his mother is an interruption of his ‘today’, which should be first and foremost as in the original French ‘Aujourd’hui, maman est morte’, especially since placing Maman first assumes a closeness to her that doesn’t present itself through the rest of the novel. Note as well the quote above where Sunday passing is placed before mention of burying his mother. ² Is it possible, too, that the absence of Maman reflects the absence of God? How could I neglect to mention the song Killing an Arab by the Cure, inspired by this novel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    The Stranger was first published by Albert Camus in the original French in 1942. I cannot help comparing the hollowness, the emptiness in Meursault’s soul to the soldier in Hemingway’s short story “Soldier's Home”. But in that story, Hemingway describes a change from the war and his reactions are connected with his recent martial experiences. Camus makes no mention of Meursault’s past experience, his emptiness is fundamental to his soul, and his reaction is to the world in general. Camus introdu The Stranger was first published by Albert Camus in the original French in 1942. I cannot help comparing the hollowness, the emptiness in Meursault’s soul to the soldier in Hemingway’s short story “Soldier's Home”. But in that story, Hemingway describes a change from the war and his reactions are connected with his recent martial experiences. Camus makes no mention of Meursault’s past experience, his emptiness is fundamental to his soul, and his reaction is to the world in general. Camus introduces us to his ideas about absurdity, abut how futile it is for us to try, desperately and mostly irrationally, to make sense out of the universe, to try and parcel out a small lot of order amidst a sea of chaos. Such ideas of family, justice, religion and nationality appear in Camus’ perspective to be pale and insignificant abstractions in a furnace like hell of indifference. The closing scenes between Meursault and the priest are in rare, high and thin air in the world of literature and I could only think of the final confrontation between Raskolnikov and Porfiry in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment for an adequate comparison. This is a short and easy read, but heavy with inference and provocation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    İntellecta

    The novel begins with the words: "Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know." The laconic style sets an invariable counterpoint to the poetic, occasionally ornamented artistic language. Albert Camus gilded as one of the most important literary and philosophical thinkers of the post-war period. The Nobel Prize laureate of 1957, which also focused on political questions before. The novel is an absurd work, up to the last sentence. He is also in the position in which the death-journey of a The novel begins with the words: "Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know." The laconic style sets an invariable counterpoint to the poetic, occasionally ornamented artistic language. Albert Camus gilded as one of the most important literary and philosophical thinkers of the post-war period. The Nobel Prize laureate of 1957, which also focused on political questions before. The novel is an absurd work, up to the last sentence. He is also in the position in which the death-journey of a man who has already stagnated in life, who recalls, at the moment of the expected death, that life whose level is not retarded, war for many the conscience of France. An absolute classic of world literature!

  14. 5 out of 5

    P-eggy

    Mersault, a twenty-something clerk of great intelligence but no ambition, little expressed emotion and the attitude of why bother changing or making a choice, there's nothing wrong with the status quo. But if pushed, by his girlfriend into marriage he will go along with it. Or whe his violent pimp of a neighbour wants him to compose a letter to his mistress that is meant to result in extreme nastiness towards her (but backfires), he will act. It's as if inertia is his default. The only time he r Mersault, a twenty-something clerk of great intelligence but no ambition, little expressed emotion and the attitude of why bother changing or making a choice, there's nothing wrong with the status quo. But if pushed, by his girlfriend into marriage he will go along with it. Or whe his violent pimp of a neighbour wants him to compose a letter to his mistress that is meant to result in extreme nastiness towards her (but backfires), he will act. It's as if inertia is his default. The only time he really shows emotion is when he is annoyed at the heat and glare of the sun, a major annoyance for such a commonplace event. It's the only time he acts of his own volition too. His crime: Mersault is on the beach where he had been invited by his friend, the pimp, and sees one of the Arabs, brother to his friend's ex-mistress. The Arab has just stabbed his friend after the pimp attacked him. Mersault stares at him, he is annoyed to see him and annoyed that the sun is so hot, as hot as it was at his mother's funeral and it annoyed him then too, upset him more than his mother's death. The Arab flashes a knife. Mersault remembers he has the pimp's gun he took to prevent violence, and he shoots him. Then a few seconds later, he shoots the dead body four times more. He is arrested. Once he has adjusted to prison life, he finds that he gets pleasure from his memories and looking at the small square patch of blue sky he can see from his cell. He says that if a person had one day only of freedom, it would create enough memories to live on for the rest of their life. But freedom or imprisonment, it's all the same to him. He is sure things will go his way. He refuses to help his lawyer, denies the existence of god, has no belief in Jesus and shows no remorse at all. It is all the same to him. This, here and now, is all there is, he says, but although he says that, he wants more. Too late, the death knell rings and at the last moment he expresses emotion. When he is led to the guillotine he wants there to be a large and noisy crowd of people who hate him. The same people who were bemused that a law-abiding clerk could commit such a senseless, such an absurd murder. What is the purpose of this angry crowd? Why does he want them there? How else, without religion, can he expiate his sin? Mersault is finely-drawn as one who watches but whose participation is limited to when it suits him. His lack of emotion means he is not immersed in situations, throwing his whole self into things as the very emotional people around him do. These people, his late mother's aged fiance, the pimp, his angry boss, the girlfriend who loves him, the mistress who fights back, the Arabs full of thoughts of revenge, the religious lawyer, are full of passion. But he is the outsider. He observes much and acts little. Except for the once. Existentialism is, it isn't a philosophical choice, and Mersault, while holding those views, doesn't do so through conviction or acceptance, but more because of his damaged personality. Perhaps that is why Camus denied this was an existentialist book. 5 stars, plus 2 extra for genius writing and the strength of emotional involvement of the reader, or this reader at least.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    “Camus, you have a Beautiful Soul!” So conceded Albert Camus’ longtime friend, confidante, and fellow agent provocateur, Jean-Paul Sartre, at the time of the much-publicized rift that ended their felicitous comradeship. Well, and you know what? Camus always had something Sartre didn’t - a warm, caring HUMANNESS. THAT’s why everyone who reads this book admires it. Camus was for REAL. Camus, like so many mid-century existentialists, was alienated from traditional societal roles and structures. But, unl “Camus, you have a Beautiful Soul!” So conceded Albert Camus’ longtime friend, confidante, and fellow agent provocateur, Jean-Paul Sartre, at the time of the much-publicized rift that ended their felicitous comradeship. Well, and you know what? Camus always had something Sartre didn’t - a warm, caring HUMANNESS. THAT’s why everyone who reads this book admires it. Camus was for REAL. Camus, like so many mid-century existentialists, was alienated from traditional societal roles and structures. But, unlike them - and so many of us - he WASN’T alienated from his own SELF! Like Sartre and Beckett, though himself Algerian, he learned his lessons under the Vichy French. “Et les soldats faisent la haie?” Then throw sand in their faces! Liberté, fraternité, égalité all the way... But politics divides, as our essential humanity unifies, and it is on the latter quality that I’ll focus, for Camus was essentially a voice of Unification. This novel is about one man’s reentry into Humanity. Much MORE than about Life’s meaninglessness. And for Camus, too, I think, who might just have said: That is not what I mean to say at all... (for) It is IMPOSSIBLE to say just what I mean! But though it is notoriously difficult to communicate it, Camus had found his Answer in the end: That the clear and calm Eye of the Storm is right at the centre of its fury. Once you see that, it is enough. Just look at the old B&W stills of him at the height of his fame - surrounded by cooing coeds! Doesn’t seem much to me like he wasn’t loving his life... But I guess maybe - just maybe - before his own, much like Merseault’s, existential somersault (his hero’s takes place in the blinding glare of the dry sun that day on the beach), he was just an automaton. Look at that devilish grimace on his young face, cigarette dangling rebelliously from his scowling lips, in that infamous early mug shot! Going vaguely through the motions. Like so many of us, if we are still in the workforce. Not much giving a darn. About anything. I too was a robot - till the day I retired. That was the day all my chickens came home to roost. You know, someone who is still working said to my wife that it’s best to keep busy when you retire - so your mind won’t wander. I got news for that person. It wanders willy-nilly - all by itself. Stop it, and you’ll slowly shrivel up and die. But there’s one thing you can do. You can always try to connect the dots, slowly and patiently. Remember E.M Forster’s Howards End? “Only connect!” Recover your Lost Humanity. Well, that’s what I did - and what happened to Merseault that day on the beach, happened to me, sitting on my rocking chair. A huge prise de conscience. All at once, it fell into place. I wasn’t mad, most Noble Festus, no - but my two feet were back on the ground for the first time in ages. I was free. And alive. For we are all part of a Huge and Vibrant Human Reality in the midst of whose ceaseless action is the only Peace that’s real. And that’s what happened to Merseault, and so what did he do? He “sang in his chains like the Sea!” For - Imprisoned, he is now Human.. Condemned, he’s now Alive. He has the inestimable freedom of the Eternal Present Moment of his Life... And NOBODY can take it away from him.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sanjay Gautam

    It came as something quite shocking which left me dazed for days. I don't consider myself worthy enough to review this book because I won't be doing justice to this book, at all. This book has left me in a certain distress with so many questions to ponder upon. And sometimes I think if this book can be reviewed at all. The prose of Camus is very simple and eloquent, and is a pleasure to read, but he raises some philosophical questions a layer beneath his beautifully crafted novella which leaves It came as something quite shocking which left me dazed for days. I don't consider myself worthy enough to review this book because I won't be doing justice to this book, at all. This book has left me in a certain distress with so many questions to ponder upon. And sometimes I think if this book can be reviewed at all. The prose of Camus is very simple and eloquent, and is a pleasure to read, but he raises some philosophical questions a layer beneath his beautifully crafted novella which leaves you pondering deeply. Its a book that doesn't give any answers rather it raises profound questions about The Nature of Truth- through a man, with all his imperfection and innocence, who becomes an Outsider, a stranger to the world, just because he only speaketh the truth, and nothing else.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jr Bacdayan

    The Stranger by Albert Camus, though quite regarded by many as a great philosophical/existentialist novel (I'm gonna be a non-conformist here.) is not quite right for me. I'm really quite at odds here. Before anything else, I would like to state that I was rather pleased with the first half of the novel, but sadly not by the second. Sure, this novella exposes certain absurdities in our society. I'd agree to that. But for me, the truths that this book expounds upon is not enough to make up for th The Stranger by Albert Camus, though quite regarded by many as a great philosophical/existentialist novel (I'm gonna be a non-conformist here.) is not quite right for me. I'm really quite at odds here. Before anything else, I would like to state that I was rather pleased with the first half of the novel, but sadly not by the second. Sure, this novella exposes certain absurdities in our society. I'd agree to that. But for me, the truths that this book expounds upon is not enough to make up for the negativeness that it entails upon its readers. In the way that I understand it, one of the point of his message in the end states that: What we do is not important, because we will all perish anyway. Why invest in morality, in relations, in feelings, when all that awaits us is certain death? Sure, life can be absurd at times. Sure, we'll all die. But just because of these known realities, should we throw away things that make sense? Throw away our life? Should the negative destroy the positive? It comes to me like this. Because we urinate what we drink, then it doesn't matter whether we drink muddy water or urine or orange juice. We'll all urinate them later just the same. Sick. Why do we live? Do we live because there might be a slight chance of immortality? Do we live because everything makes sense? We live in-spite of everything. We live because we do. Our consciousness is being insulted, our intelligence trampled, and our life spit-upon by this very grim way of thinking. His insistence that one can just about get used to anything shows man's innate capability to adjust. That we plow on through obstacles and hardships. That we fight even if we encounter difficulties and absurdities. He suggests we shouldn't. That we lay useless and wait for death. Not for me. Go do that yourself. His very pessimistic and rather narrow way of looking at life and death rather pissed me off. Secondly, the very glaring message of indifference rather fires back against Camus's message of non-conformity. You see, indifference, transforms a person in a passive state. And this passive state will easier conform to the norms of society than resist. Personally for me, it is the worst kind of attitude that a person can attain. Intellectually, Camus makes a point. But in the real world, indifference is what destroys this planet. Indifference causes global warming, causes pollution, causes mass extinction. People who don't care are more dangerous than crazy people. Why? Because there are few really crazy people, but there are billions of people who simply don't give a shit. Hitler was mad as hell, all the German soldiers were just indifferent. Indifference is tricky because you're stranded in a solid state of passivity and it's very hard to sway you from one view to another. A person who thinks that littering is good is better than a person who doesn't care if he litters. At least, the former can be persuaded to change his views, but the latter won't under any circumstances. Indifference is a problem without a solution. And this particular message is the worst for me. Now, we've come to a part where I partly agree with Camus but still not quite. That no matter what truths are, all that matters is what each individual's personal choice is. That we shouldn't impose upon others. He equips Meursault with a sort of a Moral Relativism belief (that truths are essentially based on each person's paradigms/cultures/construct) while the Priest that of Moral Realism (that truths are based on a certain definite, universal set). He uses this clash of beliefs to set a stage for his final act and I expected/wanted a rather different outcome. I was rather disappointed. I agree that Meursault found some sort of solitude in losing hope, in his final indifference. But I expected Meursault to find some sort of closure in the acceptance of death as a necessary and meaningful event. That death allows us to appreciate life. I expected that in the end even though I knew it had no chance of happening. The surrealist/existentialist Camus would never do that. But I never expected that it would be as grim and bleak as it was. “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? Couldn't he see, couldn't he see that? Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people. The others would all be condemned one day. And he would be condemned, too.” I ate, but I wasn't nourished. I was poisoned.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    “Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.” The protagonist, Meursault, just doesn’t give a fuck about anything. He just doesn’t care; he is totally indifferent about where he is and who he is with, and it’s terrifying. He has no emotional responses. He is, without a doubt, dead inside. He can’t feel and he cannot empathise. He lives in the now, utterly unable to comprehend tomorrow or the past: he simply exists in the moment, experiencing all that his sense “Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.” The protagonist, Meursault, just doesn’t give a fuck about anything. He just doesn’t care; he is totally indifferent about where he is and who he is with, and it’s terrifying. He has no emotional responses. He is, without a doubt, dead inside. He can’t feel and he cannot empathise. He lives in the now, utterly unable to comprehend tomorrow or the past: he simply exists in the moment, experiencing all that his senses can detect. And those senses are limited to his own physical sensations. He murders because the sun is in his eyes. He attends his mother’s funeral and all he can think about is his own tiredness and need for sleep. His fiancé greets him with love in her eyes and he doesn’t see a person, all he sees is a pair of tits. That’s it, whenever she comes near him all he remarks on is the shape of her breasts. She is just a body to him, a means for him to sate his own bodily needs. He cannot understand that she has emotions and that his cold behaviour will affect them. And this makes me think he may be somewhere on the autism spectrum, an extreme pole of the autism spectrum I should say. He struggles socially and engages in a lot of preformative behaviour simply saying things because he must: it is required of him. He doesn’t understand the feelings of others, offering only indifferent comments that are unintentionally cold and quite hurtful to those he speaks to. Though in depicting such a character, Albert Camus has opened one of the biggest literary mysteries of all time: what happened to this man? Why is he like this? We see his story in its endgame, but there are no mentions as to why he is so detached. Was he born this way? Is this an extreme case of a social disorder? Did someone break his heart? What ever happened to him? I could speculate about this all day. There are so many possible answers, and so many ways a man could become so lifeless. In a way, he reminded me of an awkward child or teen. He has no voice and no way of forming his own opinions or conversation. He’s just drifting through life, acting the motions he doesn’t really understand. And in such it’s reminiscent of Kafka’s work. It’s certainly more normal. There’s no sense of the macabre or unusual, but there is a sense of detachment, alienation and the feeling of loneliness in an overbearing world. In a way, the book has an almost haunting like quality to it. Well, it certainly has left me feeling unnerved and puzzled as I ponder over what caused such a situation. Meursault just seemed a little bit lost to me, different to all those around him with his introverted personality. He seemed trapped, living in a world he cannot fully comprehend or relate to. The Outsider is a very strong piece of writing; however, it is ever so subtle. It lacks a certain power and purpose. Some readers think Meursault’s lack of conformity was purposeful, a refusal to be like everyone else and experience the same emotions, though I see him as more of a victim of his own terrible coldness: it’s simply who he is, and this is the story of how he suffered because of it. FBR | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nishat

    L'Étranger is an exemplary work of literary art presenting an amalgam of apathy and humanity, in such a manner that is paradoxical, yet profoundly fulfilling. This laudable writing explores the numerous possibilities of human life while acknowledging its absurdities. Albert Camus brilliantly introduces the indifference of the world towards its inhabitants through the title character, Meursault's withdrawal from his surrounding society. Meursault, devoid of ordinary sentiments, is tried before tri L'Étranger is an exemplary work of literary art presenting an amalgam of apathy and humanity, in such a manner that is paradoxical, yet profoundly fulfilling. This laudable writing explores the numerous possibilities of human life while acknowledging its absurdities. Albert Camus brilliantly introduces the indifference of the world towards its inhabitants through the title character, Meursault's withdrawal from his surrounding society. Meursault, devoid of ordinary sentiments, is tried before trial on account of a bizarre murder. Naturally the wrath of the society comes upon Meursault, for he is not inclined to demonstrate or is merely incapable of remorse. Meursault embodies Camus's philosophical notion of absurdity. Meursault's thoughts and actions have no rational order and cannot be explained. Yet the society forces rational explanations on Meursault's doing and makes decisions for his life. Our comprehension of life is overshadowed by the inevitability of our eventual demise. As death spares neither the fool nor the wise, individual lives stand to have no inherent meaning. As Meursault realises there is indeed no higher value to his or any human life and that happiness has nothing to do with this revelation, he rejects illusory hopes and intends to make the best of the days left to him.. "It was as 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."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I wonder sometimes if it takes a man of extreme sensitivity to imagine a man with no conscience? There is no room in my heart for indifference, and I struggle to see myself writing about Meursault without at some point bursting out in a stream of invectives. Albert Camus, most elegantly, describes the protagonist's carelessness in his caring prose - a prose of such stylistic perfection that it almost hurts to combine in your mind the beautiful words with their ugly meaning in his classic story. I wonder sometimes if it takes a man of extreme sensitivity to imagine a man with no conscience? There is no room in my heart for indifference, and I struggle to see myself writing about Meursault without at some point bursting out in a stream of invectives. Albert Camus, most elegantly, describes the protagonist's carelessness in his caring prose - a prose of such stylistic perfection that it almost hurts to combine in your mind the beautiful words with their ugly meaning in his classic story. Few people knew humanity as well as Camus did, and few people dared to describe it as honestly and accurately as he did. There is pity in his voice where most people would use their pseudo-Christian self-righteousness to condemn fully and without mercy. There is love for humanity in his account of its most undignified flaw: its lack of emotional connection to its habitat and fellow earth dwellers. The stranger is inside all of us, and it is our human duty to keep him at bay, or to make sure we know him well enough not to let him loose on others. That is the absurdity of Camus' universe, and because it is so absurd, it is soothing in its bleak outlook.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    The Stranger is considered by many to be one of the most important philosophical novels of the 20th Century. In most college courses on Existentialism (a philosophy which holds that human beings create the meaning and essence of their own lives) The Stranger is usually the first thing you will read. If you're interested in philosophy, or Existentialism specifically, The Stranger is a great place to start. Camus describes Meursault, the main character, only sparingly; and for the majority of the n The Stranger is considered by many to be one of the most important philosophical novels of the 20th Century. In most college courses on Existentialism (a philosophy which holds that human beings create the meaning and essence of their own lives) The Stranger is usually the first thing you will read. If you're interested in philosophy, or Existentialism specifically, The Stranger is a great place to start. Camus describes Meursault, the main character, only sparingly; and for the majority of the novel Meursault holds no real opinion about anything, and neither does anything (even the death of his own mother) effect him very much. The lack of description, motivation, and action causes Meursault to become something of a literary Rorschach test. The reader ends up filling this vacuum with their own prejudices and societal preconceptions, making the reader as involved in building the world as the author. The Stranger probably isn't what you would typically expect from most novels. The whole story is a deliberate exercise in absurdity; and while the plot is very simple, and the characters are seemingly one dimensional, it all works together to create a great philosophical work. The Stranger peels like an onion, and the further between the lines you read, the more there is to find. There is an amazing amount of meaning and content packed into its 150 pages. I've found it to be worth reading over and over again, and it's short enough to read cover to cover in just an hour or two.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mutasim Billah

    “Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure.” The Stranger is a 1942 novel by Albert Camus, often cited as a prime example of Camus' philosophy of the absurd and existentialism. The story's protagonist Meursault is an indifferent French Algerian, who hardly partakes of the traditional Mediterranean culture. Meursault's initial musings at the very beginning of the story are the groundwork of the plot, as his indifference at his mother's funeral baffles everyone present there. As a m “Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure.” The Stranger is a 1942 novel by Albert Camus, often cited as a prime example of Camus' philosophy of the absurd and existentialism. The story's protagonist Meursault is an indifferent French Algerian, who hardly partakes of the traditional Mediterranean culture. Meursault's initial musings at the very beginning of the story are the groundwork of the plot, as his indifference at his mother's funeral baffles everyone present there. As a matter of fact, Meursault lack of emotional response is the basis of the novel. "In our society any man who does not weep at his mother's funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death." -Albert Camus on L’Étranger The story tells us of a world where a man who doesn't play the game(i.e. does not bow down to social norms) is most likely to be shunned by society and even persecuted for his choices. The world's Meursaults are each a stranger to society and they're met with disbelieving eyes, even if they're honest. "When she laughed I wanted her again. A minute later she asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn't mean anything but that I didn't think so. She looked sad." “Mostly, I could tell, I made him feel uncomfortable. He didn't understand me, and he was sort of holding it against me. I felt the urge to reassure him that I was like everybody else, just like everybody else. But really there wasn't much point, and I gave up the idea out of laziness.” The novel explores deeply into the world of absurd as we confront a realm of apathy and alienation as Meursault is condemned to a tragic end. Meursault's thoughts and actions are shown to lack rational order, but the society chooses to rationalize his actions in its own way. I found the book short and mind-bending. The character of Meursault, and how this persona of his seals his fate have been some of the things that I've pondered on many times relating to the story. A very short book, but one that will stay and eat at you for a long time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gaurav

    The Outsider Albert Camus In spite of my willingness to accept this glaring certainty, I simply couldn't. Because, in reality, from the moment judgement was passed, the evidence my sentence was based on seemed ridiculously out of proportion to its inevitable conclusion. What or perhaps who is an Outsider? One who doesn’t conform to the norms set out by society. Who makes his choices irrespective of contemplating their probables outcomes as per society or simply one who acts as life props up. Mo The Outsider Albert Camus In spite of my willingness to accept this glaring certainty, I simply couldn't. Because, in reality, from the moment judgement was passed, the evidence my sentence was based on seemed ridiculously out of proportion to its inevitable conclusion. What or perhaps who is an Outsider? One who doesn’t conform to the norms set out by society. Who makes his choices irrespective of contemplating their probables outcomes as per society or simply one who acts as life props up. Monsieur Meursault is an outsider to the society, a stranger to himself. He is not fond of playing games or telling lies rather accept life as it comes to him without any underlying sense of morality, prejudice or conformity. The character of Meursalt is hard to come by, as, being conscious and emotional beings we tend to have opinions, prejudices. We have an almost natural tendency to have belief systems, form ethics, define morality or rather simply we need some sort of order in our life. But this very tendency of ours we call natural, is it really natural? Perhaps it is, probably it is not. Meursault sees that there is no inherent meaning of life. Is it really so? Is there no grand design or meaning of life? If it is so then why are we living? What is whole point of our existence? Does it mean we are living an inauthentic existence or we are living in some sort of simulation as some of modern physicists quite enthusiastically suggest? According to Camus, there is ever going conflict between inclination of human beings to seek inherent meaning and value in life and the ever present inability of us to find any. Camus says that once we become conscious of our absurd life, we should embrace it and should continue to explore and search for meaning of life. The protagonist, Meursault, here doesn’t possess any of the seemingly natural tendencies. He is a man without feelings and one incapable of feeling remorse. The book onsets with one of the most profound starting lines of the literature - My mother died today. Or may be yesterday, I don’t know. I received a telegram from the old people’s home: ’Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Very sincerely yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. It might have been yesterday. The narrator may come across as someone quite oblivious to the world and it seems to be quite abhorrent to most of the people, for one is supposed to behave in a certain way on certain occasions and when someone loses his mother, he is supposed to show emotions which are considered natural as per society. But our narrator, to the dismay to all, amidst the profound loss (or seemingly) of her mother is consciously aware of absurdness of the life. He depicts the ironies of enforcing meaning in a void and the absurdities that surround us as humans walking towards the same cold, lifeless fate. Though people around him feel stunned at such display of coldness towards the loss of her mother. Perhaps they have been conditioned to behave so. We have become civilized (as least we think so) quite a long time ago but since the dawn of civilization we have amass so much that, in a way, we are going away from natural aspects. We have so conditioned ourselves to different dogmas, belief systems over the centuries that if someone doesn’t abide by them- he come across simply an outsider to our society. Our narrator has a sense of innocence towards life, he is naïve (However certainly not novice in his understanding of life) in the sense that he finds it astonishing when people looks horrific on his display of air of indifference towards life- its conformists. He is a man of few words or feelings past those that decisions seldom have much effect in the great plan of the world. However it is his decisions that effect him in this world, particularly by the individuals who trust that his decisions would come gnawing at him in a next world that presumably doesn't exist as indicated by the narrator. The narrator is shown unsympathetic attitude by the members of society over his choices in life, choices which don’t adhered to life as per them, but in reality their norms or laws are as pointless as they themselves are. And that is the absurdness of life. The narrator is well aware of the absurdness of life and his acts are in accordance to the same. The unintended murder by Meursault puts him in an awkward situation among the society as he says the trigger going off from being overcome by the sun and heat. Does it make any difference- the intention- since nevertheless it leads to a murder whatever may be the intention? Perhaps it does, since if it is not so then there is no difference between jury and a killer. But this presumption acts as priori for the trial of Meursault as it is proved eventually that murder was an intended one. Meursault describes the trial rather absurd since he is cornerstone of the whole trial and he is not allowed to express himself in the matter as if he doesn’t exist and a mere entity rather a conscious being. The trial which is based more on his conduct during funeral of his mother rather than the act of murder, the trial room gradually becomes symbolism of justice based on values considered akin to human beings. The one who does not conforms to these values condemned to death in the eternal trail room of justice, justice which appears to be equally absurd since it seems to be driven by some sort of dogma rather than any evidences. While he is ready to accept his fate- the punishment- but he finds the judgement rather ridiculous, he doesn't plead for mercy since he takes life as it comes even if it's hiding something as profound (or seem so) as death underneath its folds. The book ends with a sort of philosophical doctrine by the narrator which resembles Christ as Camus himself called Meursault "a man who… agrees to die for the truth" and characterised him as "the only Christ that we deserve". And I as well, I too felt ready to start life all over again. As if this great release of anger had purged me of evil, emptied me of hope; and standing before the symbolic night bursting with stars, I opened myself for the first time to the tender indifference of the world. To feel it so like me, so like a brother, in fact, I understood that I had been happy, and I was still happy. So it might be finished, so that I might feel less alone, I could only hope there would be many, many spectators on the day of execution and that they would greet me cries of hatred. We may observe that even at the verge of death, Meursault doesn’t demand sympathy from anyone rather he wants the world to greet him with hatred since he doesn’t regret at all. Camus once said that he did not want to ridicule any belief system per se rather he wanted to put forth the underlining absurdity of life. He says that there is only one philosophical problem in the life and that is suicide. According to him, the only question worth asking is the great choice that whether life is worth living or not. Camus points out, however, that there is no more meaning in death than there is in life, and that it simply evades the problem yet again. Camus concludes that we must instead "entertain" both death and the absurd, while never agreeing to their terms. He had been regularly labeled with existentialism though not to his wish. While existentialism suggests that there is no inherent meaning in life and we should accept it, thereby should define our lives and take responsibility to live by it; absurdism says that the very acceptance the absurd condition of life is the onset of true existence since while accepting the absurd situation one must not stop search for meaning for life. In that sense, the philosophy of camus is more humanitarian in approach while existentialism is a systematic philosophy. The Outsider is a classic story about absurd nature of life. I absolutely loved it. And It is highly recommended to someone who is keen to explore the absurd nature of life or rather life in general. 4.5/5 *edited to remove bloopers.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Writing about your favourite and the most influential single book of your life—not that that means anything—is a little like staring into the sun, the same sun here in an Australian suburb as that of an Algerian beach: so I shall squint, if you don’t mind. Firstly, Sandra Smith’s work is excellent. I have read all four English translations of L’Étranger that I am aware of (Stuart Gilbert, Joseph Laredo, and Matthew Ward being the other three. If you know of another, please let me know…) at least Writing about your favourite and the most influential single book of your life—not that that means anything—is a little like staring into the sun, the same sun here in an Australian suburb as that of an Algerian beach: so I shall squint, if you don’t mind. Firstly, Sandra Smith’s work is excellent. I have read all four English translations of L’Étranger that I am aware of (Stuart Gilbert, Joseph Laredo, and Matthew Ward being the other three. If you know of another, please let me know…) at least once over the years. Each has its own life, appropriately; which could be just as much to do with me as it does with the translation itself. I am learning French, starting this year, with the express intention of one day reading this book as the author wrote it. It’s a five year plan. I have particular imaginings related to Camus’ writing this. He wrote it between 1939-40, but it was not published until the Spring of 1942 in occupied Paris. This is a story about how someone lives. Meursault is an ordinary enough office clerk, with a strange kind of anti-social sincerity that the reader immediately encounters in the first two sentences, one of the most famous opening lines in literature. Meursault talks to us in a very candid manner, as if he’s talking to himself. As if, sometimes, he’s trying to re-assure himself. Is he a sociopath? No: he is aware of how people react to him, and he genuinely wants people to not be upset. But he also wants to engage with people clearly and openly. He is disinterested—in that kind of scientific manner—but not uncaring. His way of caring is to be honest. Most of all, it is to experience that he leans. He is a caring hedonist, a hedonist who wishes to experience pleasure, but doesn’t wish any more meaning be ascribed to it than the universe offers. Which is none. Marie: ‘A moment later, she asked me if I loved her. I told her that didn’t mean anything, but I didn’t think so.’ But he sees her pain, and responds as best he can. It surprises him when he answers genuinely and others are so surprised. He is capable of lying, and he does so several times, when someone is bothering him and he realises what they want to hear and so he gives them it so they will go away. But to people he cares for, he is himself. When he looks at the world his descriptions of a plain Sunday afternoon are almost like a beautiful impressionist painting. ‘It was truly a Sunday.’ He likes smoking. He likes chocolate. He likes swimming and women. He tells the Judge in Part II: ‘One of the characteristics of my personality was that physical sensations often get in the way of my emotions.’ He shoots and kills a knife-wielding Arab on a beach. Later, in the courtroom, he says it was because of the sun. The ever present heat overhead, the inevitability of life, that-which-cannot-be-avoided-and-beats-down-on-us-all. This was not before he stopped his friend from doing the same thing earlier. But: ‘The sky seemed to split apart from end to end to pour its fire down upon me. My whole body tensed as I gripped the gun. It set off the trigger.’ ‘…and it was then, with that sharp, deafening sound, that it all began.’ Until he is on the way to the guillotine and ‘…it might be finished…’ That journey is Meursault’s journey towards an acceptance of the Absurd: to put simply, Camus’ notion that human beings live in an essentially meaningless universe where they are compelled—as part of that ‘living’—to search for (and often demand) some sort of essential meaning. It is not until his last outburst at a chaplain purges him of evil, and empties him of hope, that he can finally, for the first time, open himself ‘…to the tender indifference of the world.’ This indifference—tender indifference—is an understanding of how to live in that gap, to be happy, to allow for happiness, within that Absurd gap. He is happy on the path to death, and he is willing the participation of others in it, even if they are hateful. Meursault is the '...only Christ we deserve.'

  25. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    I was so amped about this book when I tore through it a few weeks ago; alas, in that yawning chasm of time between then and when I first sat down to start this review (as opposed to this most recent effort -- I think at least my fourth?), I found that I’d forgotten a lot of the specific reasons why it had hit all the right spots for me. Fortunately, since Goodreads has instilled in me the need to take notes on, emphatically underline passages from and analyze the pants off every book I read thes I was so amped about this book when I tore through it a few weeks ago; alas, in that yawning chasm of time between then and when I first sat down to start this review (as opposed to this most recent effort -- I think at least my fourth?), I found that I’d forgotten a lot of the specific reasons why it had hit all the right spots for me. Fortunately, since Goodreads has instilled in me the need to take notes on, emphatically underline passages from and analyze the pants off every book I read these days, a quick revisit to my thorough defacing of this novel got me right back in the mindset of being unexpectedly taken by a deceptively disinterested narrator. This is a work that got under my skin and burrowed deep into my brain in slightly disturbing but mostly welcome ways right from the first sentence. I am not a terribly literal person. I love hyperboles and understatement and metaphors because they allow for elasticity of interpretation. It lets people impose their own inner landscapes on the seemingly uniform outside world, just as it leaves room for individual interpretations of message, intent, subtext, whatever. People do not perceive and interact with the world the same way, so why should they be expected to hear the same things, pick up on the same cues, follow the same logic of thought? To me, that’s how you get to the core of a person and their internal workings: Let them show you how they operate by giving them enough variables to put in comprehensible order as they see fit. Of course, forcing the observer to do some creative thinking on the fly (or trusting them to observe at all, in some cases) has a tendency to backfire more often than simply saying what's on your mind to eliminate all doubt, but that's how you suss out the mental midgets. Or, you know, wind up with a death sentence. Like life, it's all a gamble and not always worth the risk. As odd (though probably unsurprising, given the nature of my reviews) as it is to say, I found a certain kinship with Meursault. True, there’s not much to the fellow when you observe him as an outsider (that is, outside his head), but when I let myself roll around in the vast implications of what he says and the fathoms of unspoken depth in what impels him to behave as he does, I started to recognize so many of my own leaps of logic and nonsensical-without-an-explanation reactions. To me, Meursault is just a guy who just doesn't process the world in the same rank-and-file way as others do. He's an open book, an adaptable entity and honest to a fault, a man who doesn't subscribe to societal norms -- not because it's cool to be That Guy but because he truly seems to process events and impulses with a sense of sincerely stoic reservation. How many people haven't cried at a loved one's funeral, only to crumble under the emotional weight days or weeks or months later after some mundane event hammers home the finality of loss? Or have taken up an unpleasant task to relieve a friend from its terrible burden? Or shrugged their shoulders in the face of an ugly truth because nothing can change the course of fate once the momentum reaches its unstoppable peak? What, really, is the point of getting emotional when it's not going to change a damn thing? Meursault knows he is powerless to change things. He knows he has no business making assumptions about other people and their behaviors based solely on his own. What's so wrong with that? Fighting death is the most hopeless of causes so don't even bother wasting the effort; similarly, he knows that crying over his mother's death won't bring her back. Besides, what we know about their relationship is only what Meursault reveals, overtly or not, so who are we to judge him strange for not reacting as histrionically as we would? Isn't it awfully presumptuous to impose our sense of "normal" on a stranger? But by the time he shares his belief that no one has a right to cry over his Maman when being so close to death allowed her a peace that simply does not exist in the bloom of life, Meursault's own minimal relevancy to the world is nearing its close. We are not supposed to get to the heart of him but we sure can appreciate where he's coming from with just enough effort to realize that the example made of him misses the point by a shamefully vast distance. This book touched on a lot of things that annoy me about society, mainly the need to cling to misconceptions when confronted with an individual or circumstance that can't be neatly cataloged as a "type" or doesn't fall into a inflexibly prefabricated black-or-white category. Why is it so difficult for the staggering masses to extend the courtesy and minimal exertion of critical thinking to appreciate and be educated by a deviation from the norm? I appreciated the opportunity to judge that which I cannot stand in a cathartic, safely isolated way. It allowed me to focus on feeling just awful for Meursault. I mean, c'mon -- someone had to, right? He's the victim of the dangers of monochromatic thinking in a world painted in every hue, common or not. (Alternate read is that Meursault is an emotionally stunted Maman's boy who can't cope with life sans mommy, throws himself at this woman he barely knows and then gets himself legally killed so he doesn't have to do it himself, but that's so... so.... nope, not even gonna consider that one.)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I didn't feel anything except that he was beginning to annoy me. Well, this book was fucking amazing. It's smart, short, quick, and funny. I'd highly recommend it to anyone. BASIC STORY This book is about an autistic man who ends up on trial for murder. THOUGHTS Camus famously said "In our society any man who does not weep at his mother's funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death." This basically sums up the whole novel. Our protagonist, Meursault, is pretty apathetic to anyone else's feelings I didn't feel anything except that he was beginning to annoy me. Well, this book was fucking amazing. It's smart, short, quick, and funny. I'd highly recommend it to anyone. BASIC STORY This book is about an autistic man who ends up on trial for murder. THOUGHTS Camus famously said "In our society any man who does not weep at his mother's funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death." This basically sums up the whole novel. Our protagonist, Meursault, is pretty apathetic to anyone else's feelings and only cares about his own comfort and happiness. He's not a greedy or angry person. But he is vulnerable to suggestion and goes along with what anyone suggests to him if it isn't any skin off his teeth. He's also almost physically unable to tell a lie or be dishonest. This ends up getting him in trouble - that, and not being able to understand basic neurotypical emotions. He can't understand what everyone is getting so worked up about. Let's take the beginning of the novel in which Meursault's mother dies in the Home. Meursault is condemned, hated and believed to be soulless for two reasons here: ONE: He put his mom in a Home in the first place. This seems perfectly reasonable to me. It's nice to keep your elderly parents at home, but often you can't care for them and/or they are too demented to keep living at home. For instance, Meursault works. I don't see anything wrong with him putting his mom in the Home. It's hard to just leave her alone for eight hours a day with no care and then come home to care for her instead of go out with his woman or with his friends. Besides, he said he and his mom have nothing more to say to each other. This is reasonable. For the first few days she was at the home she cried a lot. But that was because she wasn't used to it. A few months later and she would have cried if she'd been taken out. She was used to it. This is so true. I am very familiar with the elderly and persons with dementia. Often old folks cry and despair upon being put in a Home, but after a few months they have friends, they have bingo every Sunday and movie-night every Friday, they have their friends, they have their flirtations, and everything is fine. This doesn't ALWAYS happen, but I've found it generally to be true. TWO: He didn't cry at his mom's funeral, and he did things like drink coffee and smoke a cigarette. The day after his mom's death he started a sexual relationship with a woman. That also seems understandable to me. Oftentimes if your parent has dementia then you say 'goodbye' to them and mourn their death much much earlier than when they actually physically die. The mom-part of his mom could have died years ago. I'm very familiar with looking at a person you once loved and who loved you back but is now merely a shell of a human being. *shrug* I hope people don't hate me or condemn me as they do Meursault, but that's how it is. That is what the demons of Alzheimer's and dementia do to people. Kill them long before they are even dead. The way Meursault sees it, is that she's dead, nothing's going to bring her back. Why shouldn't he drink coffee at her funeral or have a cigarette? Why should he not take up with a woman when he gets back home? Are you defending what Meursault did? No. He killed a man and then shot his corpse four times for good measure. True, the man had a knife, but you know what they say about bringing a knife to a gunfight. Meursault is obviously a man who has no concept of the future and no concept of the consequences of his actions. He just kills the guy. Due to sensory overload - it was hot, the sun and the heat and the oppressiveness of the day was just too much for him. Again with the autism. He's also unable to lie at his trial. His lawyer suggests he say he was holding in his emotions at his mom's funeral instead of just having no emotions. Meursault flatly states that he cannot do this because it is untrue and he's not going to say something that isn't true. Is Meursault a guy you'd want to be friends with? Obviously not. For one thing he only cares about himself. For another thing, he can't understand that emotions of others. For a third thing, he is willing to do whatever anyone suggests of him as long as it doesn't cause himself any discomfort. For a fourth thing, he takes everything that people tell him at face value. This isn't a man you can love or trust. That being said, he's not an inherently malicious guy like his friend Raymond, who is a pimp and a wife-beater who does stuff like has sex with his ex-girlfriend after pretending to make-up with her, then spit in her face. Then beat her to a bloody pulp. He is obviously someone in the book who is a sick fuck. It's my personal opinion that pimps are the lowest forms of human life. I would have thought you'd have said 'rapists.' Pimps are fucking rapists. They are rapists plus. Rapists and worse. I fucking hate pimps. HATE THEM. What bothered him was that he "still had sexual feelings for her." But he wanted to punish her. Classic hallmark of a sick fuck. If any person, fictional or real expresses this kind of sentiment, then you know you are already dealing with a sick fuck. It's like a calling card. But Meursault isn't a sick fuck like Raymond. He's just an autistic guy who got caught up in the wrong thing at the wrong time. Like I said, he's not a GOOD guy. And he has no sense of the future, no sense of right and wrong, and no sense of human feelings - especially any feelings that are not his own. RELIGIOUS FRANCE It was super-interesting to me to be transported back to a time when France was religious. France is such a secular country now. It was weird to be back in a time when crucifixes were being waved in people's faces and things like a lack of belief in God could be held against you in a court of law. Meursault's thoughts on and dealings with the Christian Coalition were the funniest parts of the novel, I was cracking up reading them. Of course he has no interest in God or religion and hearing him argue with the priest and even the uber-religious magistrate was too funny. He wanted to talk to me about God again, but I went up to him and made one last attempt to explain to him that I had only a little time left and I didn't want to waste it on God. PHILOSOPHY Of course this book is famous for being a philosophical text and there's plenty of discussion on the meaning of life, the meaning of death, God, existence, etc. etc. etc. If you like that kind of stuff, this is a gold mine. But everybody knows life isn't worth living. Deep down I knew perfectly well that it doesn't much matter whether you die at thirty or at seventy, since in either case other men and women will naturally go one living - and for thousands of years. In fact, nothing could be clearer. Whether it was now or twenty years from now, I would still be the one dying. Camus also skewers and explores law and the legal system, which is interesting and at times amusing. In a way, they seemed to be arguing the case as if it had nothing to do with me. Everything was happening without my participation. My fate was being decided without anyone so much as asking my opinion. I also like how Camus explores the fact that prison is more or less tolerable to Meursault because of his autism. Maman used to say that you can always find something to be happy about. In my prison, when the sky turned red and a new day slipped into my cell, I found out that she was right. There are hints throughout the text that his mom was on the spectrum as well. It's interesting to think about how differently Meursault's trial might have gone today with modern psychiatry and a secular France. STYLE Camus is writing in a sparse style here, in the vein of Hemingway. This lends to Meursault's voice and unique outlook on life and is very effective. It also makes the novel a quick and easy read. Meursault's everyday life is boring - as is everyone's - and Camus captures this well without losing his readers' interest, which I think is quite a feat. Tl;dr - An excellent novel that I recommend highly. Whether you like humor, philosophy, need to read a classic for a challenge or just for street cred, whether you have an interest in reading a French novel - this book is good for so many purposes. Besides that, it is enjoyable and quick. Ward's new American translation is wonderful and I think captures a certain something that Gilbert's more British and more interpretive version missed. (Gilbert's version is the one I read in high school.) A book I would recommend to anyone who has even the slightest interest.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Apathy is this man's primary way of dealing with the world. His mother dies and he goes to her funeral, yet he feels nothing, except tired and hot and drowsy. He is hungry and so he eats. He is aroused and has sex with a girl. He has a gun and the sun is hot and irritates him so he shoots a man 5 times and kills him. That is the first part of the book. In the second part of the book, comes the trial.The man is human in form, but does not feel emotions or empathy towards others. He is honest about Apathy is this man's primary way of dealing with the world. His mother dies and he goes to her funeral, yet he feels nothing, except tired and hot and drowsy. He is hungry and so he eats. He is aroused and has sex with a girl. He has a gun and the sun is hot and irritates him so he shoots a man 5 times and kills him. That is the first part of the book. In the second part of the book, comes the trial.The man is human in form, but does not feel emotions or empathy towards others. He is honest about this. His lawyer does not appreciate his truthfulness, as it hurts his case. At least, he has not learned to hide his inhumanity. He creates no false mask. You or society must take him as he is. Society decides to kill him. Isn't this as inhuman as what the man has done? Cold and calculating, the court finds him deficient and so he must die.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Strange, emotionally damaged man, lacking in affect and with an ambiguous attitude to religion, falls into bad company and ends up shooting an Arab for reasons that aren't clear even to himself. It was hot, and he wasn't thinking straight. Now why would George W Bush not merely read this shortly after the Iraq War, but go to some lengths to let the world know he had done so? A minor literary mystery that will perhaps never be fully resolved. Personally, I think Laura had something to do with it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    My first encounter with Camus and with the stranger that had been hiding inadvertently within me during all these years left me quite perplexed. Is the title of Camus’s novel that obvious? Who is truly “The Stranger” here? The disenchanted narrator of a story with no real plotline and no definite answers? The faceless mass of people who loathe and condemn him according to arbitrary morality? The alien countenance that stares back at me in the mirror on a muddled succession of monotonous Mondays? My first encounter with Camus and with the stranger that had been hiding inadvertently within me during all these years left me quite perplexed. Is the title of Camus’s novel that obvious? Who is truly “The Stranger” here? The disenchanted narrator of a story with no real plotline and no definite answers? The faceless mass of people who loathe and condemn him according to arbitrary morality? The alien countenance that stares back at me in the mirror on a muddled succession of monotonous Mondays? Aren’t we all strangers in this confusing world where time is an agreed convention that really doesn’t exist? “It occurred to me that somehow I’d got through another Sunday, that Mother now was buried, and tomorrow I’d be going back to work as usual. Really, nothing in my life had changed.” (p.18) I could never get to the bottom of Mr. Meursault’s psyche. An indolent bon vivant who didn’t cry at his Mother’s funeral or who was incapable of repentance after having killed an Arab at the shores of an Algerian beach because his presence annoyed him and because it was scorchingly hot. Incarcerated and deprived from his liberty, Mr. Meursault’s apathy gradually transforms into a wish to cling to life amidst the congenial indifference of the universe surrounding him. He learns to find contentment “gazing up at the patch of sky just overhead” or “watching for the passing birds or drifting clouds” or “waiting for dusk to come as a mournful solace”. The little window of Meursault’s cell and his accumulated memories grow to be his only means to mental freedom while the concept of time dissolves and becomes senseless and indivisible. Whether he lives or dies is indifferent to him and he accepts his “being” only in the present undisturbed by past or future. An opaque reflection of an aseptic man defined by a sequence of actions is all the reader gets, for Meursault becomes an impenetrable character with no other principle than to accept the organized chaos of existence and his own nothingness. One won’t find answers in this moralistic novel, only an orchestra of painstakingly chosen words that compose a concise and compressed prose, which in turn describes detailed scenes and casts many obscure shadows. Words are hollow and don’t carry essence. It is in the silences between the haltering sentences or in the passages with sporadic lyricism when the void of Meursault’s existence can be heard rather than understood. If both the main character and the prose remain elusive, what can be inferred then from mere acts? A condemned man whose biggest crime is refusing to behave accordingly to political correctness and to human nature, if something as such exists. He showed no feeling when his Mother passed away! Guilty. “An inhuman monster wholly without a moral sense”. Guilty. “A criminal at heart”. Guilty. “A menace to society”. Guilty. Meanwhile the remorseless assassin reads a scrap of newspaper that contains the story of a prodigal son murdered by his own Mother. The irony of it all. Enlightened atheist? Pacifist revolutionary? This novel breathes out all the false contradictions that are in fact a reflection of an extreme coherence amidst the absurdity of existence. The term “Absurdity” is much more than a word but a bit less than a concept. It is the unequivocal rupture between mankind’s obsession to find meaning in the mute response of the universe. “Absurdity” might be unacceptable as an abstract idea or a doctrine, but when it is experienced rather than studied, one can learn to accept it in quiet rebellion, like Meursault did. I can’t claim I understood his actions but the outsider in me did. Similarly, I can’t corroborate Camus being a philosopher, but I admire this spontaneous freethinker who jumped into the abyss of reality with nothing else than his ruffian hunger for living and the gutsy insolence of not accepting a thoughtless existence. In the absurd then, I learn to live.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Fabian {Councillor}

    It is almost impossible to describe Camus' The Stranger to people who haven't read this book yet. L'Étranger is so unlike many other novels with philosophical themes that you can easily see why it has received its position among books people say everyone should read once in their life. If you get around to reading this surprisingly short novel, don't do so with the wrong expectations. In a more common book, the plot would leave much to be desired; and Camus doesn't invent characters you care suc It is almost impossible to describe Camus' The Stranger to people who haven't read this book yet. L'Étranger is so unlike many other novels with philosophical themes that you can easily see why it has received its position among books people say everyone should read once in their life. If you get around to reading this surprisingly short novel, don't do so with the wrong expectations. In a more common book, the plot would leave much to be desired; and Camus doesn't invent characters you care such a great deal about that you want to desperately learn more about them. This book is not about what's happening on the outside; it focuses on what happens on the inside of a human's mind in a surprisingly subtle way. A reviewer called this book "intellectually stimulating", which does perhaps come the closest to describing the essence of The Stranger. While in the beginning the story may seem boring and uninspired, the words suddenly begin to grap your attention and pour their way into your thoughts, raising tons of questions on the way. What exactly allows our lives to be meaningful; do they even have a meaning? Shouldn't it rather be argued that since we are all equally going to face death sooner or later, all our lives are equally meaningless? This story about a man alienated from his surroundings may bore some of its readers, but above all, it bears food for your thoughts, and as long as you don't expect enjoyment from Camus' most famous novel, then The Stranger is surely going to make you think.

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