The Stranger

The Stranger

Paperback - 1989 | 1st Vintage International ed
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Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd." First published in 1946; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 1989
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed
ISBN: 9780679720201
0679720200
Branch Call Number: PAPERBACK
Characteristics: 123 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Ward, Matthew 1950 or 1951-1990

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samesfoley
Jun 30, 2017

I read The Stranger at the behest of my cousin because she wanted me to read The Meursault Investigation, which probably doesn't make any sense to read by itself as it is an independently-written sequel of sorts. I had never read The Stranger and I typically don't like classics, so I honestly wasn't expecting much. It's a short read, so I figured I'd zip through it, read The Meursault Investigation, write brief reviews for both, and move on with my life. I do have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. (Just a quick content warning for domestic abuse. It won't be brought up in my review, but it is present in the book.)

The book is written in first person, which is typically off-putting for me, but it wouldn't have worked in any other format. I desperately wish I had read this in school because I'm positive there is so much I didn't pick up on that would have led me to appreciate it even more. The tone is relatively dry and matter-of-fact, which I disliked at the outset. It's kind of a "this happened, and then this happened, and then that happened" kind of story.

Camus starts off the book with the death of Meursault's mother, an event which seems to have little to no impact at all on the man. As the book continues, it becomes clear that Meursault moves through the world like an automaton: he goes about his daily life with barely a hint of emotions. He seems content, if contentedness differs from happiness.

Meursault started off as a flat, boring character, but he became fascinating to me. He has no moral code, he has no real sense of right or wrong. He's not malicious, he just doesn't seem to understand that the people around him feel. He mentions at one point that the deaths of others don't bother him because he'll just forget about them. He expects that when he eventually dies, that they'll forget about him too. He falls into the same trap that many of us sometimes fall into: he cannot comprehend what others are experiencing because that is not what he is experiencing.

I truly felt for him. Is it possible to feel empathy for someone who cannot feel? It's just a projection of my own feelings onto him. I place myself in his shoes and know how I would feel, so I feel that for him. But isn't that exactly what he's doing? He's placing himself in others' shoes and assuming they feel (or don't feel) the same way he does. I don't know, it was a fascinating concept, and very well-executed. The Meursault Investigation is next on my TBR, but I'll also probably look into some essays and articles on The Stranger so I can wrap my head around this all a little more.

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Nymeria23
Apr 22, 2016

Um okay. So not where I thought this book was going to go. We read this for our philosophy class' existentialism and absurdism units, looking at how Camus represents these philosophical ideals quite well in the events of this book and in his character Meursault. The book is pretty short, it has a lot packed into it, but I found very little to connect to. Meursault pretty much cares about nothing, given that he bellieves one life is as good as the next, so he shows no ambition, no trepidation, no <i> emotions </i> at all since he thinks, <i> well, why bother with them? </i> That was a bit frustrating for me because I like to connect emotionally with people and characters so reading about someone with no sadness, love, or remorse just felt strange. An alright classic, showing what happens when you become a stranger to society, looking at other people live their lives instead of going out an living your own.

c
clarmer
Jan 10, 2016

Of course this is a modern classic, so I liked the themes explored- complex stuff written in a deceptively simple style. But I can't say I enjoyed reading it and was glad that it was a short book. Oh well, can't be intellectual all the time!

l
labyrinthine
Dec 24, 2015

The Stranger by Albert Camus
Albert Camus’s “The Stranger” is by far one of his best known pieces and for good reason. It was long been considered the pinnacle of existential fiction. The story is a very simple one. It opens with Meursault losing his mother. His reaction to her death is by all accounts reasonable. He believes she had a long enough life and is not overly distressed by her passing. Meursault attends the funeral and quickly falls back into the cycle that is his normal life. The reader meets Meursault’s pal Raymond, his neighbor Salamano, and his lover Marie. However, it is these interactions that first cause one to question his mental state. Meursault is revealed to be a somewhat emotionless individual. His thoughts on most subjects (including moral behavior) are vague. Then without warning Meursault commits a heinous crime. Suddenly everyone around him is frantically searching for a motive. All feel compelled to answer the question, why? This thought provoking novel leads one not only to question the character’s decisions but to review one’s own. I had many questions as I read this book. I wonder was his life this way Maman’s death? Or did her passing trigger something? Camus paints a picture of a perfectly normal life being lived by a strange individual, or is it the other way around? Many of the questions one must ask when reading this book cannot be answered. However, is to ask them not the function of a great novel?

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sspaniolo
Sep 09, 2015

Okay book. Couldn't really get into some parts of it.

a
amctague
Jul 14, 2015

Content aside, I started reading this the moment I boarded the CTA to head back to my apartment on the north end of the city. Within seconds, a girl next to me asked what I was reading and started on a slew of praise as soon as she saw what it was. From there, another girl piped up and said she'd been intending to read it, and within minutes, the bulk of the train car was in discussion of this book. Whether you personally enjoy it or not, there's no doubt that it's certainly a conversation starter.

Levi_1 Nov 10, 2014

Well thought out and powerful. The very first line will have you mesmerized. Do yourself a favour and pick this masterpiece up. I truly envy this man's writing style.

Alluring if I had to choose one word to explain it.

s
STELMASZEK
Aug 15, 2014

From the opening paragraph, to the final statement this book was amazing. The writing style of Camus is incredibly easy to read.

I don't want to dumb down or discredit the author one bit, although the words were simple, the story was complex in of itself. I highly recommend it.

JCLJulieT Dec 13, 2013

I thought this was a lovely book!

I've spent time as an existentialist (Camus asserted that he was not existentialist, but many others claim that he is) and a nihilist and an absurdist. I think that means that nothing in this book was shocking or even depressing to me. Instead, I read these modernist prose like a fresh breath after all the musty (and adored!) classics and period fiction I've been into.

While reading, I was reminded of Saul Bellow and Raymond Chandler. And I love Raymond Chandler.

theorbys Nov 12, 2013

A brilliantly written milestone of world literature. Camus perfectly balances the structure of his novella with the creation of one of literature's most interesting characters, and in a perfect pitch of terse, yet strangely rambling prose. This is one of the great short novels of all time, not that it doesn't easily hold its own with longer novels. But read it in French if you can, it's not very difficult French.

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samesfoley
Jun 30, 2017

"I would have liked to have tried explaining to him cordially, almost affectionately, that I had never been able to truly feel remorse for anything."

s
samesfoley
Jun 30, 2017

"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 and that I wasn't dissatisfied with mine here at all."

SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure."

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Bluebird1298 May 07, 2012

Bluebird1298 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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