In the story of an ordinary man who unwittingly gets drawn into a senseless murder on a sun-drenched Algerian beach, Camus was exploring what he ...Show synopsisIn the story of an ordinary man who unwittingly gets drawn into a senseless murder on a sun-drenched Algerian beach, Camus was exploring what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd". Now in a new American translation, the classic has been given new life for generations to come.Hide synopsis
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The Stranger is, alas, the title which is most often used for L'Étranger, the novel written by the randy Albert Camus, but that's misleading as the meaning in French is 'The Foreigner,' or by metaphoric implication, one can say, 'The Outsider.'
The individual and society was one of the issues that came out of mid 20th century French Existentialism and Structuralism. Writers such as Camus and Arabal took the notions of Satre, Foucault and Lacan to great lengths in looking at the underlying social and psychological issues that affect people in their social settings. Here, Camus looks at an individual and his alientation from the larger social group using the story as a model.
Though short, this book packs much frusration into it's pages. I have never encountered a character like this before. It's as if he has embodied nihilism, only moreso. The main character does not appear to respond to emotional reactions, but physical ones. There is an anxiety in reading about this bizarre character because he shows no feelings at all, no love. He only reacts to physical elements like light and heat. He becomes very wearisome and one has the urge to yell at him because he is ruining his own life. I could not read this book again because I would rather not approach this character once more.
This book won Camus the Nobel Prize in 1957. It is a tale that must be analyzed on two levels. The first level is the simple relating of mans misadventures: Meursault is the young man who makes choices that affect his ultimate destiny, beginning with his mothers funeral, a friends request and a senseless murder on a beach. Underlying the action are the tenets of Camus' absurdism and existentialism. The world is uncaring and his choices are inexorably leading to disaster. He is not understood, nor supported in his troubles: he is alone. How he faces his trial, conviction and possible executiion are the most intense narratives in the book. He rejects the final catholic "confession", and furiously threatens the priest. Camus' insights into the plight of the french algerian colonist, his tribulations in employment and in the judicial system are poignantly described in the book. How Meursault faces death, and finally faces the indifferent world "in the eye", is a thrill to read, but a "downer" in some ways ! A great story however !
Camus wastes no time is striking his reader with awe. No grief strikes Mersault upon discovering his mother's death. He is modern literature's most low-energy character and the greatest representative of absurdity in philosophy. Camus followed the work with an ideological explanation shortly after in "the Myth of Sisyphus." In it he emphasizes that "in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger." Mersault, like the theoretical absurd man in Camus' ideology, is without expectation and lives his life governed mostly by present desires and instincts. He murders an Arab on a beach because, he claims, the sun was striking his eyes. The implications of this metaphor are indirect as Mersault is entirely apathetic all through his trial. Yet it is a calm apathy; one that is not even self-reflexive. Only upon being agitated by a priest does Mersault respond with ferocity. He "lays his heart open to the benign indifference of the universe."
The design of this novel is not for any particular kind of person, but aims rather at a fearlessness when approaching the "futility" of human existence and endeavor. This is not an uplifting book, but it is an edifying one. It provokes meditation upon the everydayness, as Heidegger might have it, of life and the human's response to his condition on this earth.
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