Short and Sweet Reviews // The Stranger

“Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

// Albert Camus, The Stranger

The Stranger (or L’Étranger in French) by Albert Camus is a book that pushes the philosophies of existentialism and absurdism to extreme situations and conclusions. We follow the main character, Meursault from his mother’s funeral to his casual murder of a man he recognizes and his subsequent trial. All the while we witness him taking a passive role and we learn what can happen when a person has no passion for life and will not act to save his own skin.

Meursault is called The Stranger, or The Outsider, because he is indifferent to all that is around him. To live this life, or that life, or no life at all seems to be all the same to him.

“I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.”

// Albert Camus, L’Étranger

To be honest with you this was not one of my favorite books. I couldn’t tell if Meursault was indifferent by nature or just very depressed. I know Camus is trying to make a point. I agree that there was no intrinsic meaning to life but damn, I at least like living enough to fight to keep on doing it!

So, do I recommend it? Yeah, I do, but only if you’ve got nothing else more interesting lined up or you find it cheap in a thrift store or something. Camus does raise some interesting questions and the book will frustrate you enough to force you to examine what you would have done and why. The problem is Meursault sounds so bored with his life it makes you bored with it too!

“Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter.”

// Albert Camus, The Stranger

I did learn a few things: I learned not to get involved in other people’s domestic affairs. I learned to come in out of the heat if the sun feels too bright or you begin to feel dizzy. Finally, I learned that no matter what you must always take an active role in saving and preserving your own life. You have to care because no one in this world is more wants you to you go on living but you.

Or don’t. It doesn’t matter much either way I suppose :)

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Lisa

Hello! My name is Lisa. I find the human condition fascinating and I often write stuff about that. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and if you like what I do, consider signing up for my newsletter. Thanks :)

7 thoughts on “Short and Sweet Reviews // The Stranger”

  1. I remember loving that book in high school (the perfect age for nihilism), but I think it’s still an interesting read. I think Camus was asking questions about what was intrinsically valuable in life rather than providing answers. (Just entree nous though, you’ve misspelled the title in three places.)

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    1. I agree. This book was not meant to provide any answers. About the only thing I liked what that it invited you to answer the questions yourself. I still found it pretty bland though lol

      Thank you so much for pointing out the misspellings. How embarrassing :/

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    1. It’s an interesting topic for sure. We all get to a point in life where we have to think about the meaning of our existence. (Especially for those who don’t partake in religion.) I read this book for that reason. I want to face the darkness of an indifferent universe and still find a passion for being. This was the first of many books I’d like to read on the subject.

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  2. I haven’t read this, but I wrote a paper for a class a few years ago about existentialism and the world of theatre of the absurd. I focused on The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco – mostly because I played Mrs Martin in year 10 theatre and have fond memories of it. I think it would be quite difficult to convey absurdism in a relatable way without the character being talked about within the context of mental illness. There’s so much ‘out there’ that directs us to find purpose, meaning, etc (with religion or without) that to think about someone who finds no meaning almost automatically brings up this feeling ‘well there must be something wrong with you’.

    I might be on a tangent in a completely different direction, though, to what you were thinking when you wrote this. As much as I find the branches of existentialism very interesting (and I find it funny-but-right to identify so much with the absurdists), I don’t actually know a lot about it.

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