Dante's Reviews > The Stranger

The Stranger by Albert Camus
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
726059
's review
Oct 13, 11

bookshelves: fiction, imaginative-lit, prose, novel, existentialism
Read from June 28 to July 13, 2011 — I own a copy

I actually read this book in July, so this is already a very late review. I didn't know how to review it then. This is already the second time that I've read this. It's not that I love it. I'm not even sure if I like it. For some reason, I failed to appreciate it. So I don't understand why many people consider it to be a classic.

But it's a profound book, I think. The story is very interesting, from my point of view as a Christian.

It's an existentialist novel. The main character is Meursault. He sees life as basically absurd. The novel opens with the news of his mother's death. But for him, it doesn't really mean anything. He has a significant other, Marie, and apparently she loves him. She even asks him if he'd want to marry her. But he says that it doesn't really make any difference!

I find the story very interesting because Meursault is an atheist. I think that's significant because your beliefs or worldview really has an influence on how you interpret the things around you. I think Meursault is just being honest. That's just the logical outworking of atheism, I think. If God does not exist, life is basically absurd. Life has no ultimate meaning, value and purpose, because everything ends at the grave. It wouldn't matter if you lived a saintly life or a sinful one, because there's no life beyond the grave and hence no accountability.

Therefore, for Meursault, there's no meaning to his mother's death, and there's no difference between his marrying Marie or not. It seems that there's really no such thing as "love" in an atheistic universe. There are only feelings, impulses and desires, all of which are unpredictable and temporary.

I like Marie. She's very lovable; she's very carefree and simple. It's just very unfortunate that he meets a man like Meursault.

I am moved by the scene where Salamano cries for his lost old friend, his dog.

I didn't like the priest character very much. He had a chance of consoling Meursault, of listening to him, understanding him, and even talking about the Christian faith with him and how it is absolutely relevant to his life, but he didn't know how to handle the conversation with him. His character is not even believable, because a priest would know about theology and would know how to talk about the issue of God's existence.

I think Meursault is wrong in thinking that God does not exist, and it's unfortunate that in the novel he did not pursue that issue further. Perhaps he did not think it was an important issue in the first place. But the implications of God's non-existence are very serious.
7 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Stranger.
sign in »

Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

Dante Thanks, K.D.!


K.D. Absolutely You're welcome, Dante. I read this book too.


message 3: by Angus (new)

Angus I also have a feeling that I didn't really get this book. And I find the events rather boring. And the protagonist's I-don't-care attitude is tiring. And the pointlessness that it is pointing out is a good point, but I don't want to make it my point. Oh well, haha.


Dante Angus wrote: "I also have a feeling that I didn't really get this book. And I find the events rather boring. And the protagonist's I-don't-care attitude is tiring. And the pointlessness that it is pointing out i..."

Hehehe... Yeah, the story is a bit boring and bleak... And the protagonist is not a very admirable man...


message 5: by Angus (new)

Angus Yes! He's too unconventional for a character during the time of the book's publication.


Dante Yeah, you're right.


Ryan "It seems that there's really no such thing as "love" in an atheistic universe. There are only feelings, impulses and desires, all of which are unpredictable and temporary."

"It wouldn't matter if you lived a saintly life or a sinful one, because there's no life beyond the grave and hence no accountability. "

With honestly no offense intended, you bare a strong resemblance with the priest in this book. Neither of you have a strong understanding of the main character or atheists as a whole.


Dante Hi Ryan,

Well, I'm a bit offended, actually, because I didn't like the priest character.

How have I misunderstood Meursault and atheists in general?


message 9: by Trevor (new)

Trevor Ikrath To say that you misunderstand atheism is an understatement. You seem to think that atheists think nothing matters because there's no afterlife, so "you might as well do whatever you want!!!!!!"

On the contrary, atheists recognize that THIS life is all we have, making our actions and all that transpires in it all the MORE meaningful.


Dante Trevor: "On the contrary, atheists recognize that THIS life is all we have, making our actions and all that transpires in it all the MORE meaningful."

What do you mean by that, Trevor? How is life more meaningful if there is no life beyond the grave or if God does not exist?


message 11: by Shir (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shir Sharon I'll take up on that even though i don't exactly regard myself as an atheist but i certainly don't identify with the views of any of the three big monotheistic religions so here goes . the view that the afterlife gives our lives meaning is absurd, if there is an afterlife than it take away the unique one time opportunity of a mortal life, if there is an afterlife then why should we rush anything, the clock isn't really ticking, but if you accept that you have only one chance in this world you will be able to far better appreciate the experiences you go through, i believe death defines our lives, it's the thing that drives us to get off our asses and attain our goals in life, have kids etc., if you take this life as just a preparation for something else then you are actually the one who is robbing life of its meaning and its uniqueness, i bet if you think back on your past you can really fully appreciate thing only after they are over so how come you don't look at life itself in that way. i really could go on about this forever, if your interested to hear more of what i have to say about this you can send me a message


anarki I just noticed, been reading a few of your reviews, and I just found out that you're not really that empathic to anti-heroes. Hahaha. I know it's really so difficult to get in line with Meursault's state of mind. I'm rereading this one from a different translator, sooooo be right back. hahaha.


message 13: by Dante (last edited Jun 11, 2013 01:55AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dante Hi Nik,

Hahaha! Yeah, I guess I really couldn't sympathize with Meursault very much. But I could empathize with the protagonist (antagonist?) from Notes From Underground, sort of. He was an odious, annoying man, but I could feel for him; I could feel his pain, anxieties, and awkwardness because I could identify with him somewhat: I, too, was living in a kind of "underground" when I was younger, and I felt isolated from, and awkward around, people. Perhaps I still am, a little.


Dante Hi Shir,

Thank you for your comment. I'll think about what you said and maybe make a reply in the future. Right now I'm a bit busy, so I have very little time to pursue a long discussion on religion (I feel this issue will involve a long chat).


anarki The unnamed narrator was just so, too fucking intelligent, that's why. Hahaha. Intelligence was his curse, it's too much intelligence for a human mind can bear that it comes out bursting, pulsating in his brain, his brain bumps the walls of his skull. That is what happens when you become so aware of things, a human mind can't bear it, that's what leads him to so much mind-fucking, pretty intense to the point that he no longer understands what he's doing.


message 16: by anarki (last edited Jun 13, 2013 11:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

anarki "What do you mean by that, Trevor? How is life more meaningful if there is no life beyond the grave or if God does not exist?"

~I know this not a question for me, but I would just like to answer.. I am just soooo bored here at work. Hahaha. Sooo consider this an answer out of boredom. *clears throat. hahahaha... It really depends on how you look at it, if you're a person that is consequence or reward-oriented or punishment-oriented or whatever term is that, you're likely to think that way: to think that life is meaningless because there is no eternal life, or afterlife. But for me, that is disappointing. Because in line with that thinking, you learn to be unconsciously devious, you learn to be manipulative, you learn to be a schemer, because you can't let go of things--because you can't even bear that thought of your own mortality... Unconsciously, I mean. So that means, you may not be aware of it.

Caring too much about hell or heaven or putting too much focus on your final destination, or making it your goal in life (supposing that you believe that life would be meaningless if there's no afterlife), will beat the experience of life itself. Its genuine experience. You are gonna miss its whole point, since you put the meaning of life in its finality rather than its entirety and not the journey itself... You lose its genuineness... You are, at some point, dead right now. You are not here in this very moment, in this world, totally. So far religion had become nothing than the denial of human nature and reality. But I am not saying that afterlife is not real, it's just that I am not sure about it, and I don't really care much about it, because I'd rather live a life, a genuine life, pure human life than to live according to the reward-punishment in the end. I am a human being, and that is sufficient. For me, eternal life is the highest form of greed...

Everything is forever temporary, ironic, yes. But isn't it because of impermanence that we know how much life is worth? If you have eternal life, you killed all the possibility of life itself. Why? Without death, life will never be life, it's the reality of life, the natural order. I think that is a good thing.. Because one life, one chance, is all I ever needed. I need not to live twice, let alone live forever... If the end will punish me for what I had done or become, then let it be. I have lived my life, my own way.. My life was real.


*drinks coffee. Hahahaha


Dante Hi Nik,

Interesting thoughts. :) But I am not sure I understand you.

Let me just clarify what I meant. I was thinking more along these lines:

Suppose there is nothing beyond the grave: no life, no God, no reality beyond death.

Now, I am free to choose how I will live my life. I can choose to live well, live honestly, do good to others, help people, pursue excellence, achieve great things through my profession, write books, contribute to humanity's legacy through art and literature, etc.

I can also choose not to live well, to live dishonestly, be mean to others, bring down people, exploit them, settle for mediocrity, live in idleness and dissipation, etc.

Which path would I choose? Grating atheism is true (that there is no life beyond death, etc.), would it matter? Obviously, no. Because whatever I do, I will still end up in the grave, and all my achievements and accomplishments will be buried with me, and will eventually be forgotten, sooner or later.

Of course, I can claim that these things that I do, these things that I pursue, are meaningful *for me*. In that way my life *is* meaningful subjectively. But objectively it is meaningless because again, everything ends at the grave.


message 18: by Shir (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shir Sharon nik wrote: ""What do you mean by that, Trevor? How is life more meaningful if there is no life beyond the grave or if God does not exist?"

~I know this not a question for me, but I would just like to answer...."

you sir, got it right! rock on


message 19: by anarki (last edited Jun 15, 2013 02:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

anarki That unconscious desire to make oneself immortal and to avoid death. You fear that all of the things you did will be forgotten, where's faith in that? You are even afraid of your own mortality, your being human. Strip off the idea of eternity, who are you?

That's the real you. Your own choices uninfluenced by the idea of reward and punishment. Your existence. So what if you'll be forgotten when you die? Is that the only reason that you're living? To leave a legacy, and if you don't, then your life is meaningless? Like what I've said, it's the experience itself that puts meaning to life. The gift of experience...

It depends on how you see the world... coz for me...

Life per se is life enough....


Dante "That unconscious desire to make oneself immortal and to avoid death. You fear that all of the things you did will be forgotten, where's faith in that? You are even afraid of your own mortality, your being human."

Those fears and desires are only normal for human beings to have. :)

"Strip off the idea of eternity, who are you?"

No one, and that is the point. If life does not continue on beyond the grave, would it matter that while alive you strove to be a good, virtuous person, instead of a bad, evil one? No, because no matter how you live, you will still die. It wouldn't matter if you did good, did bad, or did nothing, because everything ends when you cease to exist. Your actions and decisions would lack significance or purpose.

"That's the real you. Your own choices uninfluenced by the idea of reward and punishment. Your existence."

We can set aside the idea of reward and punishment for now. The question is, if this life is all there is, would it matter that I did good instead of bad, or did evil instead of good?

"So what if you'll be forgotten when you die? Is that the only reason that you're living?"

Not really. There's are many reasons for living. :)

"To leave a legacy, and if you don't, then your life is meaningless? Like what I've said, it's the experience itself that puts meaning to life. The gift of experience..."

If atheism is true, all experience ends at the grave. Would it matter that I strove for a good kind of experience instead of a bad one? Because there's nothing beyond the grave, all kinds of experience, whether good or bad, are basically equal, so no kind of experience is better or worse than another kind of experience. That robs our actions with meaning, because no matter what we will do, it will amount to absolutely nothing.


message 21: by Shir (last edited Jun 15, 2013 01:12PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shir Sharon Dante wrote: ""That unconscious desire to make oneself immortal and to avoid death. You fear that all of the things you did will be forgotten, where's faith in that? You are even afraid of your own mortality, yo..."

look, life dosen't ultimately have to mean anything, we ascribe meaning to our lives to get ourselves going and to ease the pain, and i think the things that means the most to all of us are love and unity and if we choose to act good and help others in this rare opprutinity that we got to live, breath and make our own choices then it means that in the intewoven massive web of coomunication we have stirred lives towards those things and it has the potential to make us feel that we have stirred our lives in that direction as well as a result of our actions.

it's convenient by the way try and avoid making this discussion about reward and punishment cause i think you know that morality which is based on those things isn't morality at all.


anarki until you realize that life and death are one, and that you can't appreciate the other without the other, you will never know what life means...

reading everything you've wrote, I must say you "lacked" faith in human nature, the natural world. You are so weak that you chose live in an idea rather than what's real... imnan nalang tani uyy. kapuy type. hahahahaha


message 23: by Dante (last edited Jun 16, 2013 02:01AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dante Shir: "look, life dosen't ultimately have to mean anything..."

Well, as I've said, without afterlife or immortality, life doesn't have ultimate meaning. You seem to agree with me on that point.

"we ascribe meaning to our lives to get ourselves going and to ease the pain, and i think the things that means the most to all of us are love and unity and if we choose to act good and help others in this rare opprutinity that we got to live, breath and make our own choices then it means that in the intewoven massive web of coomunication we have stirred lives towards those things and it has the potential to make us feel that we have stirred our lives in that direction as well as a result of our actions."

I agree. That's what I've been saying. Even if life has no ultimate meaning (granting atheism is true), we can still ascribe *subjective* meaning to our lives by helping and loving others. In other words, even if life is *objectively* meaningless, granting atheism is true, we can still create *subjective* meanings for our lives. But the latter is really pointless and futile. It is really just exercising in self-delusion, because what you are doing is living your life *as if* life has objective, ultimate meaning when in reality life is objectively meaningless.

"it's convenient by the way try and avoid making this discussion about reward and punishment cause i think you know that morality which is based on those things isn't morality at all."

We can set it aside for now because it will entail the topic of morality. We can discuss it if you like.

So let me clarify, what do you mean "morality which is based on (rewards and punishments) isn't morality at all"?


Dante Nik: "until you realize that life and death are one, and that you can't appreciate the other without the other, you will never know what life means..."

Not sure what you are trying to get at, bro. It doesn't seem relevant to what I've been saying. Or maybe I missed something. Care to clarify further? :)

"reading everything you've wrote, I must say you "lacked" faith in human nature, the natural world."

Well, I thank you for spending some time reading what I've written. But I don't see how I "lacked faith" in human nature and the natural world. These statements seem remote to the things I've said in my earlier comments. Or else I misunderstood you. Would appreciate further clarifications so we can continue a more fruitful conversation. :)

"You are so weak that you chose live in an idea rather than what's real... imnan nalang tani uyy. kapuy type. hahahahaha "

Again, bro, you are rather vague in your statements. Would appreciate some clarity and precision. :)


Wiley Casey Dante, I think your review is very insightful. Very well thought out, especially considering your Christian perspective. I was raised Evangelical Christian, and find this book to be very inspiring. I have since gravitated, the older I've gotten, more towards agnosticism, as the most intellectually honest approach. We know nothing for sure. And while I applaud you for your faith, you are very correct. This is definitely the logical conclusion of a world without God. There is no purpose, no reason, no reason to care about anything. I feel like Mersault is like the man standing against predestination. God has pre-condemned us to hell. So, let's just take it. He has doomed most of humanity.


Dante Hi Wiley,

Thank you for the kind words.

What do you mean though when you said that God pre-condemned us to hell? If we assume that Meursault's worldview is true, then there's no hell and no God.


back to top