“The Stranger” is a novel written by Albert Camus, originally published in French as “L’Étranger” in 1942. The English translation of the novel was done by Stuart Gilbert. The story is a classic of existentialist literature and is considered one of the most influential works of the 20th century.
The stranger book summary: The novel follows the life of its protagonist, Meursault, a detached and emotionally indifferent Algerian. The narrative begins with the news of Meursault’s mother’s death, and the story unfolds as he navigates through the funeral and the events that follow. Meursault’s indifference and lack of emotional engagement with societal expectations set him apart from conventional norms.
The turning point in the novel comes when Meursault becomes involved in a violent incident on a beach. He shoots an Arab man under the scorching sun for seemingly trivial reasons, emphasizing the absurdity of human actions and the randomness of fate. The trial that ensues focuses not only on the crime but also on Meursault’s perceived lack of remorse and emotional response.
Throughout the novel, Camus explores existential themes, such as the absurdity of human existence, the meaninglessness of life, and the individual’s struggle for authenticity in a world that often imposes its own expectations and values.
- Absurdity of Life: Meursault’s indifferent and detached nature reflects the existentialist idea that life is inherently absurd and lacks inherent meaning.
- Freedom and Alienation: The novel explores the concept of individual freedom and the alienation that can come with it. Meursault’s refusal to conform to societal expectations isolates him from others.
- Authenticity: Meursault’s refusal to conform to societal norms highlights the existentialist theme of the individual’s search for authenticity and personal truth.
- Moral Ambiguity: The novel challenges conventional notions of morality. Meursault’s actions and attitudes defy societal expectations, leading to moral ambiguity and philosophical reflection.
“The Stranger” is a powerful exploration of the human condition, inviting readers to question the meaning of life, the nature of existence, and the role of individual choice in shaping one’s destiny. Albert Camus’s work continues to be studied and appreciated for its philosophical depth and literary impact.