Elliot Ratzman's Reviews > The Stranger

The Stranger by Albert Camus
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Aug 07, 11

Read in August, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 2

It has been years since I read the Stranger for the first time and this new (1988) English translation is fine enough to recapture my memories of feeling I was reading something very “important”. This short novel, which put Camus on the map of European literature, is a spare tale of Meursault, a French Algerian who sort of drifts through his life—a passive and apathetic observer of the world until he is put on trial more for his lack of feeling than for a murder. The godless, purposeless Meursault is our vehicle for wrestling with Camus’s idea of “the absurd”. As with The Cure’s song “Killing an Arab” Meursault stares at the sun, “I’m alive/I’m dead/I’m the Stranger”. More so are the Arabs here, nameless, faceless, outsiders, props in the European mind…just sayin’. The meanings that the novel generated, from Sartre and Existentialism, from thousands of high school essays, from recent postcolonial critics makes it a classic of angst for mid-century Europe and for teenaged readers today.
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