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The Stranger

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Published in 1942 by French author Albert Camus, The Stranger has long been considered a classic of twentieth-century literature. Le Monde ranks it as number one on its "100 Books of the Century" list. Through this story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on a sundrenched Algerian beach, Camus explores what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd."

159 pages, Paperback

First published May 19, 1942

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About the author

Albert Camus

799 books28.1k followers
Works, such as the novels The Stranger (1942) and The Plague (1947), of Algerian-born French writer and philosopher Albert Camus concern the absurdity of the human condition; he won the Nobel Prize of 1957 for literature.

Origin and his experiences of this representative of non-metropolitan literature in the 1930s dominated influences in his thought and work.

He also adapted plays of Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Lope de Vega, Dino Buzzati, and Requiem for a Nun of William Faulkner. One may trace his enjoyment of the theater back to his membership in l'Equipe, an Algerian group, whose "collective creation" Révolte dans les Asturies (1934) was banned for political reasons.

Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest, he came at the age of 25 years in 1938; only chance prevented him from pursuing a university career in that field. The man and the times met: Camus joined the resistance movement during the occupation and after the liberation served as a columnist for the newspaper Combat.

The essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), 1942, expounds notion of acceptance of the absurd of Camus with "the total absence of hope, which has nothing to do with despair, a continual refusal, which must not be confused with renouncement - and a conscious dissatisfaction."
Meursault, central character of L'Étranger (The Stranger), 1942, illustrates much of this essay: man as the nauseated victim of the absurd orthodoxy of habit, later - when the young killer faces execution - tempted by despair, hope, and salvation.

Besides his fiction and essays, Camus very actively produced plays in the theater (e.g., Caligula, 1944).

The time demanded his response, chiefly in his activities, but in 1947, Camus retired from political journalism.

Doctor Rieux of La Peste (The Plague), 1947, who tirelessly attends the plague-stricken citizens of Oran, enacts the revolt against a world of the absurd and of injustice, and confirms words: "We refuse to despair of mankind. Without having the unreasonable ambition to save men, we still want to serve them."

People also well know La Chute (The Fall), work of Camus in 1956.

Camus authored L'Exil et le royaume (Exile and the Kingdom) in 1957. His austere search for moral order found its aesthetic correlative in the classicism of his art. He styled of great purity, intense concentration, and rationality.

Camus died at the age of 46 years in a car accident near Sens in le Grand Fossard in the small town of Villeblevin.

Chinese 阿尔贝·加缪

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Profile Image for Trevor.
1,301 reviews22k followers
June 29, 2008
I don’t know what to do with these stars anymore. I give stars to books and then I think, ‘god, you give five stars to everything, people will think you are terribly undiscriminating’ – so then I give four stars or even three stars to some books. Then I look back and it turns out that that I’ve given four stars to Of Human Bondage and honestly, how could I possibly have thought it was a good idea to give that book less than five stars? It is the absurdity of human conventions that has us doing such things.

Now, that is what is called a segue, from the Italian ‘seguire’ – to follow.

For the last thirty years I have studiously avoided reading this book. I have done that because for the last thirty years I have known exactly what this book is about and there just didn’t seem any point in reading it. In high school friends (one of them even became my ex-wife) told me it was a great book about a man condemned to die because he was an outsider.

Later I was told that this book was a story about something much like the Azaria Chamberlain case. A case where someone does not react in a way that is considered to be ‘socially appropriate’ and is therefore condemned.

But after 30 years of avoiding reading this book I have finally relented and read it. At first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it. It didn’t really get off to the raciest of starts and the character's voice – it is told in first person – was a bit dull. He is a man who lives entirely in the present, how terribly Buddhist of him – although, really there doesn’t seem to be all that much to him.

My opinion of the book began to change at his mother’s funeral. I particularly liked the man who kept falling behind in the march to the cemetery and would take short cuts. Okay, so it is black humour, but Camus was more or less French – so black humour is more or less obligatory.

I really hadn’t expected this book to be nearly so funny as it turned out. I’d always been told it was a ponderous philosophical text – and so, to be honest, I was expecting to be bored out of my skull. I wasn’t in the least bit bored.

A constant theme in my life at present is that I read ‘classics’ expecting them to be about something and they end up being about something completely different. And given I’ve called this a ‘constant’ theme then you might think I would be less than surprised when a read a new ‘classic’ and it turns out to be completely different to my expectations. I’m a little more upset about this one than some of the others, as I’ve been told about this one before, repeatedly, and by people I’d have taken as ‘reputable sources’ – although, frankly, how well one should trust one’s ex-wife in such matters is moot.

I had gotten the distinct impression from all of my previous discussions about this book that the guy ends up dead. In fact, this is not the case – he ends up at the point in his life where he has no idea if he will be freed or not. The Priest who comes to him at the end is actually quite certain that he will be freed. Let’s face it, he is only guilty of having murdered an Arab, and as we have daily evidence, Westerners can murder Arabs with complete impunity.

The main point of the book to me is when he realises he is no longer ‘free’. He needs this explained to him – because life up until then had been about ‘getting used to things’ and one can 'get used to just about anything'. But the prison guard helpfully informs him that he is being ‘punished’ and the manifestation of that punishment is the removal of his ‘freedom’. Interestingly, he didn’t notice the difference between his past ‘free’ life and his current ‘unfree’ one.

The most interesting part of the book to me was the very end, the conversation with the priest. The religious often make the mistake of thinking that Atheists are one thing – I’ve no idea how they ever came to make this mistake, but make it they do. Given that there are thousands upon thousands of different shades of Christians – from Jesuit Catholics to Anti-Disney Episcopalians – it should be fairly obvious that something like Atheism (without any ‘organised’ church or even system of beliefs) could not be in anyway ‘homogeneous’.

I am definitely not the same kind of Atheist as Camus. To Camus there is no truth, the world is essentially absurd and all that exists is the relative truth an individual places on events and ideas. This makes the conversation with the priest fascinatingly interesting. To the priest the prisoner who is facing death is – by necessity – someone who is interested in God. You can play around with ideas like the non-existence of God when it doesn’t seem to matter (life is long and blasphemy can seem fun) – but surely when confronted with the stark truth of the human condition any man would turn away from their disbelief and see the shining light.

Not this little black duck. Now, if I was in that cell I would have argued with the priest too – but I would not have argued in the same way that Meursault argues. No, I do not believe in God, but I do believe in truth, and so Camus’ arguments are barred to me.

Meursault essentially says, “Look, I’m bored, I’m totally uninterested in the rubbish you are talking – now go away”. Now, this is a reasonable response. What is very interesting is that the priest cannot accept this as an answer. The world is not allowed to have such a person in it – if such a person really did exist then it would be a fundamental challenge to the core beliefs of the priest. So, he has to assume Meursault is either lying to him or is trying to taunt him. But it is much worse – he is absolutely sincere, he is not interested in this ‘truth’.

I don’t know that the world is completely meaningless, it is conventional rather than meaningless. That those conventions are arbitrary (decided by the culture we grew up in) doesn’t make them meaningless, it makes them conventional. I don’t think I would like to live in a world where people go up and kill Arabs pretty much at random and with impunity, but then again, we have already established this is precisely the world I do live in. My point is that it would be better if we did adhere to some sort of moral principles and that these should be better principles than ‘he should be killed because he didn’t cry at his mum’s funeral’.

Camus is seeking to say that all of our ‘moral principles’ in the end come to be as meaningless as that – we judge on the basis of what we see from the framework of our own limited experience. And look, yes, there is much to this – but this ends up being too easy.

The thing I like most about Existentialism, though it isn’t really as evident in this book as it is in the actual philosophy – although this is something that Meursault is supposed to have grown to understand (sorry, just one more sub-clause) even though this wasn’t something I noticed at all while reading the book, was the notion of responsibility. I didn’t think in the end Meursault was all that much more ‘responsible’ for his actions than he had been at the start. But I do think that ‘responsibility’ is a key concept in morality and one that seems increasingly to be ignored.

Better by far that we feel responsible for too much in our lives than too little – better by far that we take responsibility for the actions of our governments (say) than to call these governments ‘them’.

I’m not advocating believing in The Secret - but that if one must err, better to err on the side of believing you have too much responsibility for how your life has turned out, rather than too little.

So, what can I say? I enjoyed this much more than I expected – but I’m still glad I waited before reading it, I really don’t think I would have gotten nearly as much out of it at 15 as I did now.
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,378 reviews12k followers
April 3, 2023

Albert Camus’ 1942 classic. Here are the opening lines: “Mother died today Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The telegram from the Home says: YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY.”

A telegram, not a personal phone call or someone on staff from the old people’s home actually making the hour trip in person to inform her only son, but a terse three line businesslike telegram – cold, insensitive, almost callous; a telling sign of the mechanized times.

Then first-person narrator Monsieur Meursault has to deal with his manager so he can attend his mother’s funeral:

"I have fixed up with my employer for two days’ leave; obviously, under the circumstances, he couldn’t refuse. Still, I had an idea he looked annoyed, and I said, without thinking: 'Sorry, sir, but it’s not my fault, you know.'"

Ha! Camus’ subtle irony, a statement on how death is an irritating inconvenience in the urbanized modern world of shipping offices, where time is money and the highest value is utility and efficiency.

Then, when Meursault sits beside the Home’s keeper in the room with his mother’s coffin, we read:

“The glare of the white walls was making my eyes smart, and I asked him if he couldn’t turn off one of the lamps. “Nothing doing,” he said. 'They’d arranged the lights like that; either one had them all on or none at all.'”

Most revealing. This is the only time at the Home Meursault actually asks for something. And true to form as archetypal keeper, the answer is standard binary, that is, all or nothing, black or white, on or off; certainly not even considering engaging in a creative solution on behalf of Meursault, who, after all, is the son. Reading this section about the Home’s officious keeper and his world of expected behaviors and standardized, routinized procedures reminds me of the doorkeeper in Kafka’s tale, Before the Law.

The next day, the day of the funeral procession, Meursault observes, “The sky was already a blaze of light, and the air stoking up rapidly. I felt the first waves of heat lapping my back, and my dark suit made things worse. I couldn’t imagine why we waited so long before getting under way.” This is one of a number of his remarks on his sensations and feelings, and, for good reason – Meursault’s way of being in the world is primarily on the level of sensation and feeling.

Back in the city and after taking a swim with Marie, a girlfriend he ran into at the local swimming pool, there’s a clip of dialogue where Meursault relates: “While we were drying ourselves on the edge of the swimming pool she said: “I’m browner than you.” I asked her if she’d come to the movies with me that evening. She laughed again and said, “Yes,” if I’d take her to the comedy everybody was talking about, the one with Fernandel in it.” Meursault does acquiesce to her request. Big mistake. Turns out, according to society’s unwritten rules, taking Marie to Fernandel’s farcical comedy on the very next evening after his mother’s funeral was a colossal no-no, completely unacceptable behavior.

We as given laser-sharp glimpses of various facets of our enigmatic first-person narrator as he moves through his everyday routine in the following days and evenings, routine, that is, until the unforgettable scene with the Arab on the beach, one of the most famous scenes in all of modern literature. Here are Camus’ words via Stuart Gilbert’s marvelous translation:

The Arab didn’t move. After all, there was still some distance between us. Perhaps because of the shadow on his face, he seemed to be grinning at me.
I waited. The heat was beginning to scorch my cheeks; beads of sweat were gathered in my eyebrows. It was just the same sort of heat as my mother’s funeral, and I had the same disagreeable sensations – especially in my forehead, where all the veins seemed to be bursting through the skin. I couldn’t stand it an longer, and took another step forward. I knew it was a fool thing to do; I wouldn’t get out of the sun by moving on a yard or so. But I took that step, just one step, forward,. And then the Arab drew his knife and held it up toward me, athwart the sunlight.
A shaft of light shot upward from the steel, and I felt as if a long, thin blade transfixed my forehead. At the same moment all the sweat that had accumulated in my eyebrows splashed down on my eyelids, covering them with a warm film of of moisture. Beneath a veil of brine and tears my eyes were blinded; I was conscious only of the cymbals of the sun clashing on my skull, and, less distinctly, of the keen blade of light flashing up from the knife, scarring my eyelashes, and gouging into my eyeballs.
Then everything began to reel before my eyes, a fiery gust came from the sea, while the sky cracked in two, from end to end, and a great sheet of flame poured down through the rift. Every nerve in my body was a steel spring, and my grip closed on the revolver. The trigger gave, and the smooth underbelly of the butt jogged my palm.

This novel poses such provocative questions, I wouldn’t want to spoil any of those questions with answers, semi-original or otherwise. Rather, my suggestion is to read and reread this slim novel as carefully and attentively as possible.

One last reflection: one of my favorite scenes is where Meursault enters the courtroom and makes the following observation: “Just then I noticed that almost all the people in the courtroom were greeting each other, exchanging remarks and forming groups – behaving, in fact, as in a club where the company of others of one’s own tastes and standing makes one feel at ease. That, no doubt, explained the odd impression I had of being de trop here, a sort of gate-crasher.” Such a comment on the dynamics of the modern world: a man is about to go on trial with his life in the balance and he is the one who feels out-of-place.

How many times in life have you felt out-of-place entering a room? Have you ever considered yourself a stranger to those around you? Perhaps our modern world can be seen as The Stranger, thus making each and every one of us strangers. Love or hate it, Camus’ short novel speaks to our condition.

One final reflection: I would not be surprised if Albert Camus read this prose poem by Charles Baudelaire:


Tell me, enigmatic man, whom do you love best? Your father, your mother, your sister, or your brother?

"I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother."

Your friends, then?

"You use a word that until now has had no meaning for me."

Your country?

"I am ignorant of the latitude in which it is situated."

Then Beauty?

"Her I would love willingly, goddess and immortal."


"I hate it as you hate your God."

What, then, extraordinary stranger, do you love?

"I love the clouds—the clouds that pass—yonder—the marvelous clouds."

Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,101 reviews7,199 followers
October 7, 2017
A short review because there are so many other good reviews of this classic. When I first read this eons ago, I assumed “the stranger” was the Arab man that the main character kills on the beach. (It’s set in Algeria.) Not so.


Meursault, the main character, is a man without feelings and one incapable of feeling remorse. Those deficiencies show at his mother’s death when he does not cry and does not even seem terribly upset. They show again when he agrees to write a letter for a friend so that the friend can invite his ex-girlfriend back so he can beat her up. Mostly they are revealed when he shoots a stranger - an Arab – after an altercation on the beach. Five shots: first one, a pause, and then four more. The “four more” is what eventually gets him convicted.

He lives in a poor, violent neighborhood where, when one man’s wife dies, he starts beating his dog instead of his wife. “As for the dog, he’s sort of taken on his master’s stooped look, muzzle down, neck straining. They look as if they belong to the same species, and yet they hate each other.”

Meursault has a girlfriend that he likes, but mostly he doesn’t care about her one way or the other. These two passages say it all: “A minute later she asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so. She looked sad.” And “That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to.”

His boss at a shipping company asks him if he want to be transferred to a job in Paris. “Then he asked me if I wasn’t interested in a change of life. I said that people never change their lives, that in any case one life was as good as another…”

At his trial for the murder, he feels that the prosecutor and his lawyer are arguing in a way that has nothing to do with him. He has a surge of feeling that he is dying to say something but then thinks “But on second thought, I didn’t have anything to say.” When he’s convicted and sentenced to death, he also acts as if it’s no big deal. “But everybody knows life isn’t worth living….Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter.”

The book is a classic early modern work of anomie, alienation and a general indifference to life. It’s also perhaps a spin-off from Crime and Punishment. Today, a novel like this would take us back to Meursault’s childhood to show us why he turned out like this. Camus doesn’t do that, so we can only speculate – or, perhaps, attribute it to genetics.


As a classic in English translation a lot has been made of its opening and closing sentences. In the edition I read the first sentence is translated as “Maman died today.” Should it be “Today, mother died?” On the last page is a sentence: “…I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.” Should it be instead, “I laid my heart open to the gentle indifference of the universe?” I’m reminded of the review I did of Mogens by Jens Peter Jacobsen where the foreword tells us that the author felt it would be a different story if it began “It was summer,” rather than “Summer it was…” Still a great classic.

Beni Said Beach from skyscrapercity.com
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Profile Image for Ryan R.
21 reviews
June 3, 2008
The book is simply written and a rather quick read, but the depth Camus manages to convey through this simplicity is astounding. I think a problem a lot of people have with this book is that they fail to look beyond the whole "what is the meaning of life" message. While an interesting question, the book raises so many other philosophical questions beyond this. What I found the most interesting of these is "what truly defines humanity or makes someone human?" During Meursault's trial, he is constantly accused of not showing remorse and therefore as being cold and inhuman. He is most definitely human though, just rather detached. This raises the question of whether one should be expected to exhibit certain characteristics in certain situations to "keep their humanity".

Also it raises the question of whether much of our emotion is created by ourselves or the expectations of others to exhibit certain emotions in a given sitatuion. The book is also an indictment on people's efforts to dictate other people's lives. We are constantly told what is right and as a means to justify our own sense of "what it means to be human". We often impose these characteristics upon others, expecting them to fulfill similar traits and characteristics, as they have been already imposed on us. It is in a way, a self-justification of our actions as right or "humanly". Constantly, Meursault is being told he must live and/or act a certain way, whether it be by the judge, his lawyer, or the priest. Once he doesn't conform to these measures, he is marginalized and called "inhuman"; this is an attempt on the part of the others to rationalize their own ways of life and understandings. If they manage to declare him "inhuman", it allows them to call themselves human and justify their own means of living.

In the end, this book is one that raises many more questions than it answers, but in true philosophical fashion, they are really questions without answers.
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 9 books16.2k followers
August 24, 2021
Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.

الحياة لا تساوى أي عناء

هذا هو الشعار الأعظم لفلسفة اللامبالاة
تلك الفلسفة التي يتمسك بعضنا بها كطوق نجاة أخير
تلك الفلسفة التي أتمسك أنا بها كطوق نجاة أخير

لا يعرف أبدا أي بشري هذه الفلسفة حتى يتألم ألما عظيما
إما أن يقضي عليه
وإما يعيد بعثه من جديد

وميرسو هنا وضعه مختلف
إننا لا نعرف ما الذي أصابه ليصير هكذا‏
إنه يحمل كل أوجاع البشرية وكل سؤال أطلقه الانسان في ‏الفراغ

ربما لم يصبه شيء
ربما ولد كبش فداء ‏
ربما جاء إلى هذا العالم ليفعل ما لم يجرؤ الكثير منا على فعله

لقد أدركت أنه إذا قدر لي أن أعيش داخل جذع شجرة جافة من ‏‏غير أن يكون ثمة أي شيء يشغلني سوى النظر الى السماء ‏التي ‏تعلو رأسي ‏
فإنني حتما كنت سأتعود على ذلك بالتدريج .. ولانتظرت ‏مرور ‏الطيور والتقاء السحاب أيضا..‏

ميرسو لا يبالى بشيء‏
لا بموت أمه
لا بصديقته
لا بحياته
ولا بموته

كل الأمور تتساوى ‏لديه ‏
الله ,,الحب والزواج,, الموت والحياة،،النجاح والفشل ،،الخير ‏والشر
جسده هو المؤشر الوحيد الذي يعمل وفقا له
وهو الوحيد الذي يتأكد منه

إنه تضاءل حتى لم يعد يرى سوى حاجاته الأساسية
فقط جسده هو ما تضخم وأخفى كل ما ليس من متطلباته‏
يأكل ..يشرب ..يدخن..يقضي حاجته..يمارس الجنس
لا يجعل أحداث "تافهة" كموت أمه أو كحكم إعدامه تقف في ‏طريق تحقيق هذه الطلبات الضرورية


عندما سئل ميرسو لما قتل الرجل الجزائري ‏
أجاب ببساطة: الشمس
كانت حرارة الشمس تضايقه وتعكر مزاجه
ومرة أخرى ينتصر الجسد
الذي خضع لألمه المؤقت فأنهى حياة شخص آخر ‏

ميرسو لا يبالي بمن قتله
ولا بالدم الذي أراقه
قدر ما اهتم بذلك الوخز بداخله
كي يشرب ويتبرد بسبب الحرارة الشديدة


كل الكائنات التي يقابلها ميرسو تبدو كارتونية بالنسبة إليه
أمه.. ماري..المحامي ..القضاة ..الكاهن
إنه ينتظر أن ينهي أحدهم حديثه الذي لا يعنيه في شيء
حتى يأكل أو يشرب أو ينام
إنه منفصل تماما ‏عن المجتمع
يبدو إذن للعين الناقدة مجرد شخص أناني وكسول ومتبلد ‏العاطفة

‏ ولكن ميرسو لم يجد في حياته ما يثير ‏اهتمامه
وهو لا يستسلم عن ضعف
وإنما لغياب المعنى
إنه لامبالاته تلك تكنيك دفاعي لم يجد سواه يناسبه
بل لم يعرف حتى أنه تكنيك دفاعي
فهو لا يشغل دماغه بتحليل ما يفعل
أو بالأحرى ما لا يفعل

إنه شخص تحرر من كل سجن عاطفي أو إنساني
يودع أمه دار مسنين
لا يحزن على موتها ولو لدقيقة
لا يبالي بهذا العربي الذي قتله
ولا بأنه سيقتل بسبب فعلته
لا يتشبث بحياته ولا يحاول الدفاع عن نفسه
بل يغرق في حواراته الداخلية
ويصمت وينعزل عن الجميع

إنه إذن غريب ‏
يعيش فى عالم لا ينتمي ‏إليه
لا ‏يفهمه المجتمع
لا يتعاطف معه
بل ربما يحاكمه الجميع بسبب غرابته وبروده‏
لا بسبب جريمة قتل
إنه ‏اللامعنى الذي يسكنه ويخيف الآخرين
‏ الخواء الذي يستسلم له ويرعبهم
إنه الاختلاف يا سادة
هذا هو ما كان يحاكم عليه

وكأن تلك ‏الغضبة الكبرى قد خلصتني من الشر وأفرغتني من ‏الأمل
في ذلك ‏الليل الذي يفيض بالنجوم أحسست للمرة الأولى ‏بعذوبة ورقة ‏اللامبالاة وأحسست أنني كنت سعيدا في يوم من ‏الأيام ولازلت ‏حتى الآن
أتمنى أن ينتهي كل شيء وأتمنى أن أكون هناك أقل وحدة ‏من ‏هنا‎

‎‏ ‏
قال ميرسو هذه الكلمات لنفسه قبل إعدامه‏

فهل ياترى صار أقل وحدة هناك..؟
Profile Image for فهد الفهد.
Author 1 book4,835 followers
June 16, 2016

بدأ لدي خلال السنوات الأخيرة هاجس قرائي مقلق، نوع من الشعور بالنقص كلما مر أمامي عنوان مشهور لم اقرأه بعد، فمن روايات دستويفسكي التي جمعتها ولكني لم اقرأ منها إلا كتاباً واحداً، إلى كافكا وشتاينبك وتشيخوف وغيرهم ممن لم اقرأ لهم شيئاً أو قرأت عملاً وحيداً، وهذا بسبب أن مرحلة القراءة الجوهرية لدي – الثانوية والجامعة – كانت فقيرة، فالمكتبات لدينا في الرياض كانت لا تعرض إلا النادر من الكتب في التسعينات وبدايات الألفية، كما أنني كنت حينها بلا خارطة قرائية، فلا مكتبة في المنزل، ولا قارئ مهتم في العائلة يساعدني أمام هجمة العناوين، ولا حتى انترنت ومواقع محترفة تحدد لك ما يمكنك اقتنائه، وما يجب عليك تجاهله من كتب، الآن بالنسبة للجيل الجديد الفارق شاسع، يمكنهم في المرحلة الجوهرية – مرحلة ما قبل المسئولية والعمل والعائلة - الحصول على أهم الكتب، بأجمل الطبعات، وبأبسط الطرق والوسائل، وقراءتها في مرحلة التشكل العمرية هذه، بحيث لا يصل أحدهم لمنتصف عشريناته إلا وقد قرأ أهم وأجمل الكتب، وتفرغ لقراءة الجديد أو سد الفراغات البسيطة، أو التعمق في قراءة من أعجبه من الكتاب.

على أي حال الشكوى لا تفيد، والعمر لازال في مقتبله – إن طال -، فلذا بدأت لحل هذه المشكلة بفهرسة كتبي، وتقييم أهميتها وقيمتها الفكرية والأدبية، ومن ثم وضعت قوائم بما يجب علي قراءته أولاً بأول، بحيث يكون لدي مئة كتاب، ومن ثم مائة تالية، وهكذا، وتكون كل مائة منها خطة قرائية مستقلة يمكن تطعيمها مع الوقت بالكتب الجديدة، والمزاجية – أي التي توافق مزاجاً ما فيميل عليها -، طبعاً لا أتوقع من نفسي الالتزام بهذه الخطط بحذافيرها، فلاقتراحات الأخوة في الجودريدز، وللأفكار الصغيرة التي تأتي بها الأيام، ولتدفق تيار القراءة الذي قد يجرفك لكتب توقعت أنها ستعتق في الرفوف بلا قراءة، كل هذا سيجعل الفكرة تنفذ على مدى سنوات، ربما تزيد على الخمس، ولكن في النهاية كل هذا جزء من المتعة والتجربة والعالم الجميل الذي تخلقه لنا الكتب.

هذه المقدمة لا علاقة لها بهذا الكتاب، إلا لأنه فقط كان من الكتب المؤرقة، هو وكتاب كامو الآخر (الطاعون)، وكلاهما من قائمة المئة رواية التي تنتظر، وها قد أنقصت بقراءته القائمة.

كامو هو الأديب الفرنسي الوجودي الشهير، ولد في الجزائر المحتلة حينها من فرنسا في سنة 1913 م، فلذا تدور روايته هذه هناك، وكذا روايته الأخرى الطاعون، كل من قرأوا هذه الرواية تحدثوا تقريباً عن شيئين الأول هو العبث، والثاني هو الغربة، عبثية ما يحدث في الرواية للبطل، وكذلك غربة البطل وعدم فهم المجتمع له.

برأيي هاتين الملاحظتين تنقصهما ملاحظة ثالثة لا تقل أهمية، ويمكننا اعتبارها قاسم مشترك بين العبثية والغربة، ألا وهي مدى تأثير وتركز الوجود المادي للبطل عليه وعلى أفكاره وتصرفاته، وهذه بالنسبة لي هي عبقرية الرواية، حيث هذا الجانب مهمل لدى أغلب الروائيين، كما أنه مهمل لدى كل من يحكي حكاية، إننا نركز على الأحداث، على الأقوال والأفعال وننسى ما انتبه له كامو في روايته.

أعرف أن كلامي السابق غامض، ولتوضيحه سأروي قصة شخصية، قبل سنوات حضرت جنازة حزينة، كانت أول حالة موت مباشرة، أول جنازة أحضرها ويكون المدفون شخص أعرفه، مجرد تلك الفكرة بأن إنسان كان يذهب ويجيء، يتحرك، يتكلم، يأكل، يضحك ويغضب، ومن ثم انتهى، هذه الفكرة الهائلة ملأت قلبي ففاض بحزن جديد، حزن لم أعرفه ولم أجربه من قبل، وحيث وقفت هناك في المقبرة الجرداء، تسفيني الريح، وتصليني الشمس، ويدفعني الزحام، وتغرقني أصوات الناس من حولي، شعرت بقلقٍ غريب، فالحزن في داخلي سماوي شفاف، أريد أن أفهمه، أن أتملاه، ولكن فوضى الناس من حولي، والحرارة والعطش، جعلت الحزن يتراجع قليلاً ليحل محله وجودي أنا، جوعي وعطشي وتعبي، كان ذلكم الشعور بالنسبة لي مخزياً، كيف يمكن لهذا أن يكون !! ألا يمكنني في مثل تلكم اللحظات التخلص من تلك الأحاسيس التافهة؟ ومنذ ذلكم اليوم، كلما حضرت جنازة أو عزاءً، أعاني من هذا الشعور، لا أفهم كيف يبتسم الناس في المقبرة؟ كيف يتحدثون أحاديث جانبية وهم يدفنون عزيزاً، ولا كيف يعودون ليتناولوا غداءً لذيذاً، فالحزن الذي أفهمه، هو حزن انفصالي، يفصلني عن الواقع، عن الجسد ولو لساعات قليلة، إنها أبسط ما أبذله لإنسان أحببته، أن أخلي روحي وقلبي لساعات أتذكره فيها، ولا أنشغل بذاتي ولا بالآخرين.

ميرسو في الرواية كان هذا الرجل، الرجل الذي لا يجيد إخفاء ذاته، لا يجيد التظاهر بالانفصال ليعيش بين الناس، إنه يتصرف وفقاً لما يشعر به، فلذا تكثف وجوده وشعوره في الرواية، فهو يتعب ويعطش، يحتاج إلى القهوة والسجائر حتى في جنازة أمه، ويخرج مع صديقته إلى الشاطئ، إنه غريب، لا يمكن للمجتمع أن يفهمه، ولأنه كذلك، لا يجد أي تعاطف من المجتمع معه، فلذا عندما يقع، ويرتكب جريمة قتل، لا يحاكمه المجتمع على جريمته، بقدر ما يحاكمه على غرابته، وهو في خضم المحاكمة وفي خضم الحكم وتنفيذه وأيامه في السجن، لازال كما هو، لا يمكن لخوف اللحظات الأخيرة أن يقنعه، فيجعله يتظاهر بشيء لا يؤمن به حتى ينال خلاصاً ما.

ميرسو إذن مختلف، غريب، فماذا إذن عن العبثية؟ إنها ضاربة في الرواية، فالجريمة التي ارتكبها ميرسو، كان يمكن تجنبها، لقد قتل شخصاً لا علاقة له به، من أجل شخص لا تربطه به علاقة قوية، لقد ساعد ميرسو إنساناً منحطاً بلا دوافع كافية، فقط لأنه طلب منه ذلك !! ولحظة قتل ميرسو للشاب الجزائري لو استعدناها، تعبر بالضبط عن الفكرة التي أشرت إليها، فميرسو تحت الحرارة الشديدة، والشمس المسلطة عليه، ولمعة خنجر الشاب الذي لم يكن يهدده جدياً، قام بإطلاق النار وقتل الشاب، فلذا عندما سُأل في المحكمة عن سبب قتله للشاب، كانت إجابته حقيقية، إنها الشمس، لقد كانت الشمس تضايقه بالفعل، لقد أثرت على اتخاذه للقرار، ولن نفهم هذا من دون فهم تأثير الوجود المادي للإنسان على روحه وتصرفاته وأفكاره.

هل يعني هذا أن نتعاطف مع ميرسو؟ لا بالطبع، فهو قاتل، والرصاصة التي أطلقها أتبعتها أربع رصاصات أخرى، في هذه الرواية لا تهم مشاعرنا تجاه ميرسو، ما يهم هو رؤيتنا له، هل هو مختلف؟ أم هو مخبول؟ يمكننا أن نجرم كل ما فعله ميرسو، ويمكننا أن نتفهم شيئاً من أفعاله، ولكن المهم هو أن ندرك أن ميرسو وقع تحت حكمنا عليه، وأن اختلافه وغرابته ستجعله يدفع ثمناً، ربما لم يكن سيدفعه لو لم يختلف، لو كان نسخة منا.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,265 followers
October 30, 2021
If You Exist

"The Stranger" dramatises the issues at the heart of existentialism.

The same issues are probably at the heart of life, whether or not you believe in a god.

Being Judged

It's interesting that there has been a crime and now Meursault is being "judged".

The judgement is symbolic not only of the justice system, but of God's judgement of humanity.

Defending Yourself

You would normally expect the defendant to assert their innocence or plead not guilty in the criminal justice system (cue Law and Order theme song).

Both options require the defendant to take a positive step, only they differ in degree.

To assert your "innocence" is to positively state that "I didn't do it".

A plea of "not guilty" would place an onus on the prosecutor to prove the defendant's guilt (although there are significant differences between the French system of justice and that of the UK/USA/Canada/Australia/etc).

To plead not guilty can mean a number of things.

It could mean that "I did actually do it", but you, the prosecutor, have to prove to the Judge or Court that I did it.

It could mean that "I did actually do it", but I have a defence or justification that means it is not a punishable crime (e.g., self-defence or provocation).

Asking Forgiveness

This process is partly analogous to the situation when a Christian dies and meets their God.

If they have sinned, you would expect them to ask forgiveness.
Having been forgiven, they would expect to go to Heaven.

Not Defending Yourself

One of the dilemmas of "The Stranger" is that morally and legally there might be issues that Meursault could put to the Judge that would excuse his action and allow the Judge to find him not guilty.

He could then go "free".

He could have argued that his action was self-defence or the result of provocation.

He could have "got off", if he had taken a positive step on his own behalf. However, he fails to take the step.

If he was a Christian (i.e., if he believed in God), he might have wanted to prolong his life on Earth.

His life would have had some meaning and he would have wanted more of it.

Similarly, if he was a Christian, he would have been motivated to seek eternal life in Heaven.

So he would have taken the positive step.

What's the Point?

Instead, against all expectation, he doesn't defend himself. We are left to wonder why.

We have to assume that Meursault effectively asked the questions of himself, "What is the point? Why should I bother?"

And we have to assume that he answered the questions, "There is no point".

Achieving Your Own Mortality

There was no point in prolonging his life and, not believing in Heaven, there was no point in seeking eternal life.

He had lived a life (however long or short, however good or bad, however satisfying or unsatisfying) and it didn't really matter that his life might come to an end.

The point is that, sooner or later, all life must come to an end.

By failing to take a "positive" step on his own behalf, he effectively collaborated in and achieved his own mortality. He existed while he was alive, he would have ceased to exist when he was executed.

If he wasn't executed, he would have died sooner or later.

Ultimately, he "enjoyed" his life while he had it, he didn't care enough to prolong it and he accepted the inevitability of his own death.

Is Despair the Explanation?

This doesn't necessarily mean that he embraced despair as a way of life (or death).

In a way, he accepted responsibility for his own actions during life and he accepted responsibility for the inevitability of his own death as well.

Ultimately, this is why "The Stranger" and Existentialism are so confronting to Christianity and Western Civilisation. It makes us ask the question "what is the point?" and it permits an answer that "there is no point".


This doesn't mean that life is meaningless and everybody else should live their lives in despair. Quite the opposite.

We should inject our own meaning into our own lives. We are responsible for our own fulfilment.

Life is short and we should just get on with it. (Or as a friend of mine says, everybody is responsible for their own orgasm.)

Such is life.

Profile Image for s.penkevich.
965 reviews6,841 followers
July 16, 2023
It was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.

Even if we exist in a world devoid of meaning, why is it that our actions still bear so much weight? The crime and punishment of Nobel Prize winning author Albert Camus’ academically canonized The Stranger depicts the ironies of enforcing meaning in a void and the absurdities that surround us as humans walking towards the same cold, lifeless fate. ‘Since we're all going to die,’ writes narrator Meursault, ‘it's obvious that when and how don't matter.’ Yet, when and how define a life, especially when the the why is a direct consequence of a life lived, though do our lives truly matter at all? These questions rattle across the pages of this fantastic character study revolving around a courtroom character judgement of the narrator, a courtroom of suits flanking a judge that might as well be angels flanking the pearly gates of Christian lore. The Stranger is a lesson in absurdity and investigative analysis of a life faced with the ‘benign indifference of the world’.

There is not love of life without despair about life.

Meursault is a man of few words or convictions beyond those that choices rarely make much difference in the grand scheme of the world. Yet it is his choices that damn him in this world, especially by those who believe that his actions damn him in a next world that probably doesn’t even exist according to our narrator. While most decisions really don’t amount to much of a difference, there are still those which inevitably set life in different directions, such as to pull the trigger or not to pull the trigger, ‘To stay or to go, it amounted to the same thing’. This is a man not unsatisfied with life but feeling on the outside of it, moving through the world as he sees fit, and being denied life by men with a God-like arrogance for believing their word and opinions are firm law when really they are as meaningless and insignificant as any other creature. However, this is not a story of the condemners, but of the condemned. It is important to note that Meursault is, for all intents and purposes, an ‘everyman’, one that exists in all of us even if we surpress or deny it. ‘I felt the urge to reassure him that I was like everybody else, just like everybody else,’ and it isn’t Meursault on trial, but all of us. It is the collective human soul with all our errors, intentional or not, on trial for existing in a world that probably doesn’t matter or care.

Maman died today,’¹ begins The Stranger’, an event setting everything into motion. Part One of the novel focuses on the funeral, and more importantly its aftermath. As we watch Meursault awkwardly press through a funeral he feels detached from, more inclined to discuss how the weather and present company ill-effect him than the loss of a mother.
It occurred to me anyway that one more Sunday was over, that Maman was buried now that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed.
Following the funeral The Stranger chronicles Meursault’s relations with the living and the natural world, most critically concerning his courtship of Marie. Marie, it would seem, figures as an Oedipal substitute for his Maman². Whereas the relationship with Maman is cold and detached, the two of them separating much out of boredom with one another, his relationship with Marie is full of excitement and hot-blooded sexual flair, yet the text is full of imagery nudging towards Oedipal impulses. There is a fixation with her breasts, which are frequently mentioned and sought after by the motherless Meursault, or the tender moment when he seeks out Marie’s scent on the pillow and falls asleep in the warm embrace of bed and scent, a fairly childlike and soul-bearing act.

Meursault’s relationships lead him down a path that ends with senseless murder (as senseless as everything else may be a question worth considering), and while we put a moral weight on the difference between intentionally pulling the trigger or the trigger going off from being overcome by the sun and heat, is there truly any difference at all since both lead to a body bleeding out on the beach? This murder, and the absolutely brilliant final line of ‘knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness’—one of my favorites in all of literature—propels the reader into Part Two. Here we have find Meursault denied the sunsoaked scenes of nature and friendship of the outside world, and the sexuality so rampant in part one as he finds himself now beset by the cold indifferent stone walls of prison. The world of part one only whispers through the bars. There is still the overwhelming warmth, but this is more akin to hellfire in a judgement scene where mortal flesh takes on the role of an Almighty judge in an investigation of Meursault’s character. Meursault describes the utter absurdity of being the true focus of the trial, but being forced to sit silent as others do all the deciding and discussing as if he didn’t matter one bit. It also seems strange that the murder is not the primary discussion, but the actions of relations leading up to it. Did Meursault love his mother, was he in the circle of criminals, and other moral characteristics of the man seem to be the deciding factor of his fate, a trial that reads like a Holy decision into either Heaven or Hell while actually being a decision that would remove him from this worldly courtroom to the immortal courtroom, if that is to be believed (certainly by the lawyers but denied by Meursault).
I realized then that a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison. He would have enough memories to keep him from being bored.
Being left with only having your past life, full of its joys and transgressions, to either comfort or haunt you for what feels like eternity reads much like an expression of an afterlife. If there is one, then life has meaning, but what if there isn’t one and we don’t have to atone for our actions?

It is better to burn than to disappear.

The Stranger is a probing look into the folds of existence, and one that forces you to consider your own life and it’s place under all those indifferent stars. The writing is crisp and immediate, and the effect is nearly overwhelming and all-encompassing in its beauty and insight. I read this in high school and have now re-read it in preparation for The Meursault Investigation. I found it to be much more meaningful to me as an adult as I found it then, though I enjoyed it equally both times. When a reader is young, the ideas seem engaging and attractive, but more like a hat one can put on and remove when they are done and move on. As an adult, having been through much more and having experienced bleak moments and bottom-of-the-well nights where life truly felt absurd and devoid of meaning or warmth, Meursault didn’t seem so distant or theoretical but like a life we’ve all lived and tried to forget. The Stranger has earned it’s place in the literary canon as well as deep within my heart.


I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.

¹ There is a fascinating article from the New Yorker discussing the various translations of the opening line. I tend to prefer their own version, which has never been put into the novel that it should read ‘Today, Maman died’ as Meursault exists in the here and now, and that the death of his mother is an interruption of his ‘today’, which should be first and foremost as in the original French ‘Aujourd’hui, maman est morte’, especially since placing Maman first assumes a closeness to her that doesn’t present itself through the rest of the novel. Note as well the quote above where Sunday passing is placed before mention of burying his mother.

² Is it possible, too, that the absence of Maman reflects the absence of God?

How could I neglect to mention the song Killing an Arab by the Cure, inspired by this novel.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
1,028 reviews17.7k followers
September 25, 2023
“Camus, you have a Beautiful Soul!”

So conceded Albert Camus’ longtime friend, confidante, and fellow agent provocateur, Jean-Paul Sartre, at the time of the much-publicized rift that ended their felicitous comradeship.

Well, and you know what? Camus always had something Sartre didn’t - a warm, caring HUMANNESS.

THAT’s why everyone who reads this book admires it. Camus was for REAL.

Camus, like so many mid-century existentialists, was alienated from traditional societal roles and structures.

But, unlike them - and so many of us - he WASN’T alienated from his Real SELF!

That’s because, unlike Sartre, he didn’t live in his Head. He lived in his Soul, which, in becoming a persona non grata, knew positive LIBERATION from his Self.

Because he knew the phony Self to be only the Origin of Darkness.

But like Sartre and Beckett, though himself Algerian, he learned his lessons under the Vichy French. “Et les soldats faisent la haie?” Then throw sand in their faces! Liberté, fraternité, égalité all the way...

But politics divides, as our essential humanity unifies, and it is on the latter quality that I’ll focus, for Camus was essentially a voice for Unification.

This novel is about one man’s reentry into his Humanity. Much MORE than about Life’s meaninglessness.

And for Camus, too, I think, who might just have said:
That is not what I mean to say at all...
(for) It is IMPOSSIBLE to say just what I mean!

But though it is notoriously difficult to communicate it, Camus had found his Answer in the end:

That the clear and calm Eye of the Storm is right at the centre of its fury.

Once you see that, it is enough.

Just look at the old B&W stills of him at the height of his fame - surrounded by cooing coeds! Doesn’t seem much to me like he wasn’t loving his life...

But I guess maybe - just maybe - before his own, much like Merseault’s, existential somersault (his hero’s takes place in the blinding glare of the dry sun that hot day on the beach), he was just an automaton.

Look at that devilish grimace on his young face, cigarette dangling rebelliously from his scowling lips, in that infamous early mug shot!

Going vaguely through the motions. Like so many of us, if we are still in the workforce. Not much giving a darn. About anything.

I too was a robot - till the day I retired. That was the day all my chickens came home to roost.

You know, someone who is still working said to my wife that it’s best to keep busy when you retire - so your mind won’t wander.

I got news for that person.

It wanders willy-nilly - all by itself. Stop it, and you’ll slowly shrivel up and die.

But there’s one thing you can do.

You can always try to connect the dots, slowly and patiently. Remember E.M Forster’s Howards End? “Only connect!” Recover your Lost Humanity.

Well, that’s what I did - and what happened to Merseault that day on the beach, happened to me, sitting on my rocking chair. A huge prise de conscience.

All at once, it fell into place.

I wasn’t mad, most Noble Festus, no - but my two feet were back on the ground for the first time in ages. I was free.

And alive.

For we are all part of a Huge and Vibrant Human Reality in the midst of whose ceaseless action is the only Peace that’s real.

And that’s what happened to Merseault, and so what did he do?

He “sang in his chains like the Sea!”

For -

Imprisoned, he is now Human..

Condemned, he’s now Alive.

He has the inestimable freedom of the Eternal Present Moment of his Life...

And NOBODY can take it away from him.
Profile Image for Chris.
91 reviews443 followers
May 11, 2008
If every few words of praise I’ve seen for “The Stranger” over my lifetime materialized into small chunks of rock in space, there’d be enough sh!t to conjure up the Oort Cloud. Much like this distant collection of debris bordering the outer solar system, I can’t really comprehend the acclaim heaped on this story, but luckily, like the Cloud, it’s usually out of sight, out of mind, and has absolutely no discernable current influence on my life. And just like the Oort can occasionally spit a chunk of sh!t at the earth and devastate all life upon it, so too can I hear/read some lip service paid to “The Stranger” resulting in my transition to Freak-Out Mode, resulting in me slapping someone in the face, usually someone I have to deal with again at some point in time (if only in court).

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. Armed with a 100-word vocabulary, a meager 123 pages to bore one with, and a character who simply doesn’t seem to give much of a damn, Camus somehow shook the world of literature with this inane garbage. I haven’t sat down to conduct a thorough analysis, but using some reasonable guesstimation I will say that the average sentence in this book is about eight words long. I’m not asking that every sentence in a book run the length of a page, but the end result when employed by Camus was that either a twelve year old or some sort of retarded robot wrote this. (Cue robot voice) It struck me as strange. The sentences were so short. It was very peculiar. This could be read very fast. I began to read this on the train on my in to work. I finished it on my way back home.

Who the hell writes like that? More importantly, who the hell reads a book like that and suspects therein lay some complexity? Each time I noticed how condensed everything was it occurred to me that somehow the literati had spent all this time adoring the published equivalent of a commercial.

Here’s a snapshot of the dude we’re supposed to give a hoot about. He doesn’t readily assimilate to or accept the conventional mores everyone else seems accustomed to. He’s not overly concerned, but he seemingly knows there’s some kind of disconnect. He’s also not out to go f#ck with the system for lack of anything better to do or in some attempt to make a statement. He’s pretty emotionless, he shows some genuine concern for himself at times, but even those close to him really aren’t too significant in his grand picture. His testicles are extremely small and sterile, and he fondles them often.

Not long after the death of his mother, Our Hero is chilling on the beach when some Arabs come around looking to start sh!t with an acquaintance of his, and after a small skirmish earlier in the day, Our Man goes back down to the beach and shoots an Arab. He gets arrested and pretty much just goes with the flow, he rolls over and let’s the prosecution have their way with his scrawny white ass. The whole time he pretty much just thinks it’s all pretty ridiculous and isn’t too concerned with the proceedings.

I wasn’t too concerned about the book. More than anything I was just bored with it. There was no build up, there was no action, there was no climax. There was nothing funny, nothing exciting, nothing interesting, and nothing to really take away from the book; just the same words repeating over and over, grouped in strings of seven or eight. The longest sentence in the book was also the only thing which I found even remotely amusing: “Finally I realized that some of the old people were sucking at the insides of their cheeks and making these weird smacking noises”. That isn’t particularly funny, but compared to the rest of the book it was comedic gold.

“The Stranger” is some seriously weak shit. I’ve gotten more enjoyment from looking a map of Kentucky.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
July 27, 2021
(Book 579 from 1001 Books) L’Étranger = The Outsider = The Stranger, Albert Camus

The Stranger is a 1942 novel by French author Albert Camus. Its theme and outlook are often cited as examples of Camus' philosophy of the absurd and existentialism.

Part 1: Meursault learns of the death of his mother, who has been living in a retirement home. At her funeral, he expresses none of the expected emotions of grief. When asked if he wishes to view the body, he declines and instead, smokes and drinks coffee in front of the coffin. Rather than expressing his feelings, he comments to the reader only about the aged attendees at the funeral. It takes place on an unbearably hot day. ...

Part 2: Meursault is now incarcerated, and explains his arrest, time in prison, and forthcoming trial. His general detachment makes living in prison tolerable, especially after he gets used to the idea of being restricted and unable to have sex with Marie. He passes the time sleeping, or mentally listing the objects he owned in his apartment.

At the trial, the prosecuting attorney portrays Meursault's quietness and passivity as demonstrating guilt and a lack of remorse. The prosecutor tells the jury more about Meursault's inability or unwillingness to cry at his mother's funeral and the murder. He pushes Meursault to tell the truth, but the man resists. Later, on his own, Meursault tells the reader that he simply was never able to feel any remorse or personal emotions for any of his actions in life. The dramatic prosecutor denounces Meursault, claiming that he must be a soul-less monster, incapable of remorse, and thus deserves to die for his crime. ...

عنوان: بیگانه؛ نویسنده: آلبر کامو؛ انتشاراتیها: (فرخی، نیلوفر، نگاه، معرفت، گلشائی، کتابسرا، نشر مجید، نشر مرکز، ماهی، هرمس، کوله پشتی، دنیای نو، جامی) ادبیات فرانسه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه ژانویه سال 1977میلادی

مترجم: علی شیبانی؛ تهران، موسسه انتشاراتی فرخی، 1344، در 147ص؛ چاپ دیگر جامی، 1391؛ در 144ص؛ شابک 9786001760709؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسه - سده 20م

مترجم: علی اصغر خبره زاده؛ تهران، نگاه، 1345، در 141ص؛ چاپ دوم کانون معرفت؛ در 111ص؛ چاپ ششم در 148ص؛ انتشارات نگاه 1364، در 141ص؛ چاپ هشتم 1366؛ چاپ دهم 1375؛ شابک 9643510042؛ و ...؛

مترجم: جلال آل احمد و علی اصغر خبره زاده؛ تهران، کتابهای جیبی، چاپ دوم 1335؛ چاپ سوم 1341، در 148ص؛ چاپ دیگر کانون معرفت، سال1345، در 148ص؛ و بارها چاپ شده است

مترجم: هدایت الله میرزمانی؛ تهران، گلشائی، 1361، در 132ص؛ چاپ دوم 1362؛

مترجم: امیرجلال الدین اعلم؛ تهران، کتابسرا، 1366، در 155ص؛ چاپ نهم 1381؛ شابک 97646364209؛

مترجم: پرویز شهدی؛ تهران، مجید، 1389، در 118ص، شابک 9789644531101؛ چاپ سوم 1394؛ چاپ چهارم 1396؛

مترجم: لیلی گلستان؛ تهران، نشرمرکز، 1386، در 171ص، شابک 9789643059149؛ چاپ چهارم 1388؛ چاپ بیست و هفتم 1397؛

مترجم: خشایار دیهیمی؛ تهران، ماهی، 1388، در 128ص، شابک 9789649971599؛ چاپ چهاردهم 1396؛

مترجم: محمدرضا پارسایار؛ تهران، هرمس، 1388، هشت و 112ص، شابک 9789643635633؛ چاپ ششم 1397؛

مترجم: محمد حاج کریمی؛ تهران، کوله پشتی، 1390، 88ص، شابک 9786005816617؛

مترجم: شادی ابطحی؛ تهران، دنیای نو، 1392، در 134ص، شابک 9789641720690؛ چاپ دوم 1399؛

مترجم: امیر لاهوتی؛ تهران، جامی، چاپ اول دوم 1393، در 176ص، شابک 9786001760990؛ چاپ سوم 1396؛

کامو در مقدمه‌ ای بر این رمان می‌نویسند: (دیرگاهی است که من رمان «بیگانه» را، در یک جمله، که گمان نمی‌کنم زیاد خلاف عرف باشد، خلاصه کرده‌ ام: «در جامعهٔ ما هر کس که در تدفین مادر نگرید، خطر اعدام تهدیدش می‌کند؛ منظور این است، که تنها بگویم قهرمان داستان از آنرو محکوم به اعدام شد، که در بازی معهود مشارکت نداشت؛ در این معنی از جامعه ی خود بیگانه است، و از ��تن برکنار؛ در پیرامون زندگی شخصی، تنها و در جستجوی لذت‌های تن سرگردان؛ از این رو خوانشگران او را خودباخته‌ ای دستخوش امواج یافته‌ اند»)؛

چکیده: داستان یک مرد درونگرا به نام «مرسو» است، که مرتکب قتلی می‌شود، و در سلول زندان، در انتظار اعدام خویش است؛ داستان در دهه ی سی سده بیستم میلادی، در «الجزایر» رخ می‌دهد؛ داستان به دو قسمت تقسیم می‌شود؛

در قسمت اول: «مرسو»، در مراسم تدفین مادرش شرکت می‌کند، و در عین حال هیچ تأثر، و احساس ویژه ای از خود نشان نمی‌دهد؛ داستان با ترسیم روزهای پس از آنروز، از دید شخصیت اصلی داستان ادامه می‌یابد؛ «مرسو» به عنوان ��نسانی بدون هیچ اراده، برای پیشرفت در زندگی، ترسیم می‌شود؛ او هیچ رابطه ی احساسی، بین خود و افراد دیگر برقرار نمی‌کند، و در بی تفاوتی خود و پیامدهای حاصل از آن، زندگی اش را سپری می‌کند؛ او از اینکه روزهایش را بدون تغییر در عادت‌های خود می‌گذراند، خشنود است؛ همسایه ی «مرسو» که «ریمون سنته» نام دارد، و متهم به فراهم آوردن شغل، برای روسپیان است، با او رفیق می‌شود؛ «مرسو» به «سنته» یاری می‌کند، تا یکی از معشوقه های او را، که «سنته» ادعا می‌کند دوست دختر پیشین او بوده است، به سمت خود بکشد؛ «سنته» به آن زن فشار می‌آورد، و او را تحقیر می‌کند؛ مدتی بعد «مرسو» و «سنته» کنار ساحل، به برادر آن زن (مرد عرب)، و دوستانش برمیخورند؛ اوضاع از کنترل خارج می‌شود، و کار به کتک کاری می‌کشد؛ پس از آن «مرسو» بار دیگر، «مرد عرب» را در ساحل می‌بیند، و اینبار کس دیگری جز آن‌ها در اطراف نیست؛ بدون دلیل مشخص «مرسو» به سمت مرد عرب تیراندازی می‌کند، که در فاصله ی امنی از او، از سایه ی صخره‌ ای از گرمای سوزنده لذت می‌برد.؛

در قسمت دوم: محاکمه ی «مرسو» آغاز می‌شود؛ در اینجا شخصیت اول داستان، برای نخستین بار، با تأثیری که بی اعتنایی، و بی تفاوتی برخوردش بر دیگران می‌گذارد، روبرو می‌شود؛ اتهام راستین بیخدا بودنش را، بدون کلامی می‌پذیرد؛ او رفتار «اندولانت (اصطلاح روانشناسی برای کسی که در مواقع قرار گرفتن در وضعیت‌های ویژه از خود احساس متناسب نشان نمی‌دهد و بی اعتناء باقی می‌ماند- از درد تأثیر نمی‌پذیرد؛ یا آن را حس نمی‌کند)» خود را به عنوان قانون منطقی زندگی اش تفسیر می‌کند؛ به اعدام محکوم می‌شود؛ «آلبر کامو» در این رمان، آغازی برای فلسفهٔ پوچی خود، که بعدها به چاپ می‌رسد، فراهم می‌آورد...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 27/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 04/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Guille.
784 reviews1,748 followers
October 9, 2018
Como conclusión: encantado en lo literario, escéptico en lo filosófico.

Más que una obra literaria, que lo es, "El extranjero" es un tratado filosófico sobre cómo vivir, cómo sobreponerse al sin sentido de vivir y cómo enfrentarse al absurdo de la muerte. No comparto su existencialismo pasivo, el conformismo aceptante de lo que hay. Quizás haya quien pueda llegar a vivir esa conformidad alejado de todos y de una forma satisfactoria e incluso feliz, pero a mí, más allá del egoísmo y la insolidaridad que implica, se me hace un imposible.

Pero, filosofías aparte, la escritura me ha parecido magnífica. La personalidad del personaje casa perfectamente con la sobriedad del texto, su economía de medios, la neutralidad fría que se mantiene hasta casi el final. Solo lo imprescindible debe ser dicho. Hay un esmerado mimo por el detalle, por la palabra precisa, por trasmitir el hedonismo de los pequeñísimos placeres; las descripciones son contenidas, muy visuales, remitiendo siempre a las sensaciones físicas. Y ese fantástico estallido final, rápido, implosivo al que le sigue una calma reflexiva, feliz. Brillante.

Asocio esta obra con la famosa novela kafkiana del insecto. Pareciera como si Camus hubiera querido reescribir el final de aquella.

A ver si no (cuidado, a partir de aquí destripo el argumento de la novela):

Antes del suceso que lo cambia todo, las vidas de los protagonistas de ambas novelas transcurren en una monotonía apacible, nada apasionante pero tampoco desagradable, incluso placentera en sus pequeñas cosas. Tras el acontecimiento, los dos protagonistas se descubren entes inhumanos en los ojos de quienes los rodean, uno en apariencia y progresivamente en todo su ser y el otro por su absoluta falta de deseos, sentimientos, moral, por su indiferencia absoluta ante los otros y la vida. En ambos casos, bicho y extraño, producen repulsa en aquellos que los juzgan, en una sociedad que los ve como individuos de otra especie, distintos e inquietantes y, por tanto, peligrosos. En ambos casos, el veredicto es la condena a muerte.

En las dos obras el acontecimiento que inicia el cambio es ajeno a ellos. En el caso de El extranjero es menos evidente. Aunque Meursault dispara, al menos el primero de los disparos lo acomete como ido, como si la cosa no fuera con él, como si, de la misma forma que se produce, pudiera no haber sucedido, sin motivación alguna, como algo que le ocurre.

Tras el suceso, en su celda, Meursault despierta al absurdo de la misma forma que Sansa lo hizo en su habitación. Pero ese descubrimiento no es instantáneo en el extranjero. En un principio mantiene sus hábitos acomodaticios, pasivos, de conformidad con las circunstancias en un mundo donde nada importa mucho y todo es lo mismo.

“si me hubiesen hecho vivir en el tronco de un árbol seco sin otra ocupación que la de mirar la flor del cielo sobre la cabeza, me habría acostumbrado poco a poco. Hubiese esperado el paso de los pájaros y el encuentro de las nubes”

A medida que trascurre el juicio, Meursault descubre la mirada de los otros (hecho que ya empezó a producirse en el entierro de la madre) y con ello su vida, que había consistido en un tranquilo y sosegado día a día, sensible únicamente a las sensaciones físicas, sin ningún tipo de reflexión pero sin estar sujeto a normas ajenas a él, cambia con el enfrentamiento consigo mismo, con él en medio de los otros, con él en la vida y, por encima de todo, con él ante la muerte. Descubre el sin sentido, el absurdo. Toda esperanza no crea más que dolor. Cambiar de vida es una completa ilusión. Nada importa, las relaciones humanas son fantasmas sin trascendencia, nada es relevante, da igual una cosa que otra.

Pero, y aquí está el gran cambio, la respuesta de Meursault ante su recién descubierta “inhumanidad” no podía diferir más de la del insecto de Kafka. Si Sansa se deja morir, sintiéndose separado del mundo, infeliz, el personaje de Camus se revela, estalla ante la muerte próxima, su indiferencia desaparece y su primera reacción ante el absurdo es de cólera

“¡Qué me importaban la muerte de los otros, el amor de una madre! ¡Qué me importaban su Dios, las vidas que uno elige, los destinos que uno escoge, desde que un único destino debía de escogerme a mí y conmigo a millares de privilegiados que, como él, se decían hermanos míos! ¿Comprendía, comprendía pues? Todo el mundo era privilegiado. No había más que privilegiados. También a los otros los condenarían un día. También a él lo condenarían. ¿Qué importaba si acusado de una muerte lo ejecutaban por no haber llorado en el entierro de su madre?”

Y tras la tormenta, vuelve la calma, una calma que es ya muy distinta a la que hasta ese momento había caracterizado su vida; en estos últimos momentos la calma se hace reflexiva, propia en un sentido profundo. Había, por primera vez, tomado los mandos

“Como si esa gran cólera me hubiese purgado del mal, vaciado de esperanza, delante de esta noche cargada de signos y de estrellas, me abría por primera vez a la tierna indiferencia del mundo. Al encontrarlo tan semejante a mí, tan fraterno al cabo, sentí que había sido feliz y que lo era todavía”

Al fin y al cabo, había comido cuando había sentido hambre, había bebido cuando había sentido sed, había follado cuando había sentido deseo. Y ahora, en su momento final, Meursault se presenta orgulloso, fuerte como para no necesitar las mentiras consoladoras que el hombre ha inventado para afrontar su vida y su muerte (el ateísmo de Meursault es el más perfecto posible: no se rebela ante la idea de la existencia de Dios, no lo niega, simplemente no lo considera, es un problema inexistente, irrelevante, sin importancia alguna), y repudiando a esta sociedad ciega e ignorante de la que se siente orgullosamente distanciado se enfrenta con su final.

“Para que todo sea consumado, para que me sienta menos solo, me quedaba esperar que el día de mi ejecución haya muchos espectadores y que me reciban con gritos de odio.”
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews605 followers
July 2, 2017
I just finished reading this famous - classic story. All this time I had no idea what it was about.

What an interesting little book. I enjoyed reading in the same way that I have
"Siddartha", by Herman Hesse, or "The Alchemist", by Paulo Coelho.

It's a brilliant small book - especially knowing it was written so long ago: 1942..... but it's timeless.

Is everything the same as everything else? Does it matter who we marry or if we marry? Does it matter if we live or die? Must murder have a meaning?

Whose challenge is it when a person's behavior- is much less traditional than popular opinion? His? Or...everyone else around him?

And who decides what is meaningful and purposeful in life anyway? Is it possible things are simply 'made up'.... and then we agree what is more important than something else?

This book reminds me- "that life is a game". It is what it is. The game is how we play it:
we add our beliefs - thoughts - feelings - choices. We 'add' meaning to "what is".

Life is interpretation.... and Camus's main character, Meursault, doesn't blindly accept conventional meaning which is often impose on the world. He accepts his fate - yet not passively. He's clear he did something wrong. He's expecting others to be outraged. It accepts it all.

So... we, the reader, are left to draw many of our own conclusions-or not -but we are certainly invited to take a look at the deeper meaning of life.

Love the simple straightforward prose.....and personally I found Meursault charming and likable. I liked his strangeness!
Profile Image for فايز غازي Fayez Ghazi .
Author 2 books3,911 followers
May 27, 2023
- الرواية-السؤال، ذلك السؤال الأزلي لما نحن هنا وما الغاية او المعنى من وجودنا. الجواب (حسب كامو): لا سبب، لا شيئ، صدفة وعدمية!

- يأتي كامو بشخص (ميرسول) يجرده من الإحساس، يعطيه بعض المنطق في التفكير (كلنا سنموت يوماً ما)، يسحب اي تفكير روحي منه ويجعله مادياً خالصاً (كل حاجاته كانت مادية من مآكل ومشرب ونوم وصولاً الى الجريمة بسبب تافه كالشمس)، يعدّل من ردات فعله لتصبح تجريدية بحتة، فنكون عندها امام انسان زجاجي بارد لا يأبه لما مضى وغير مهتم بما سيأتي، انسان عدمي يجسد فلسفة كامو بالكامل.

- يضع هذه الشخصية في قالب روائي ويترك الأحداث تجري مبتدئاً من موت والدة "ميرسول" حيث ردة الفعل عادية (كلنا سنموت) لا مشاعر او عاطفة او حنين او رهبة امام الموت او اي شعور انساني بل برودة تامة ولامبالاة، حتى بعد الجنازة كان مرهقاً فنام مطمئناً... ادخال "ماري" الى حياته كان من قبيل الصدفة، الصدفة التي اخذتهم للفراش لاحقاً وكادت ان تأخذهم للزواج بمحض قرار (لنتزوج) من دون اي شعور فقط غريزة او حاجة جسدية لتشبع او لا تشبع فلا فرق عنده. جريمة القتل اتت ايضاً "صدفة" بتضافر عناصر مادية ووهم او خدعة بصرية انشأت ردة فعل عصبية في اصابعه فأنطلق الرصاص لا ارادياً لقتل "عربي" لكنه لم يبالي او يشعر بالندم فأطلق اربع رصاصات اخرى. المحكمة والسجن مسرحية سريالية حاولت الربط بين غياب الشعور والجريمة وحاولت الجواب على الأسئلة القديمة عن القدر وخطته وفهم الحياة ووجود الله او "الحاجة لوجوده"...

- رغم اختلافي التام مع فلسفة كامو الا ان هذا العمل كتجسيد للفلسفة العدمية اتى متقناً، صادماً، بارداً عن غريب بين نسخ متشابهة، وعن بارد بين دماء حارة، وعن مادي بين ارواح متشردة، وعن لامبالي بالحياة بين المتعلقين بها!
Profile Image for Luís.
1,945 reviews610 followers
August 24, 2023
The Stranger by Camus - which I picked up randomly from my library - is a classic of the 20th century, and I had never read it. Why? I do not know. Just as I did not know, or even nothing, precisely what this masterpiece of contemporary literature concealed.
The discovery was, therefore, complete. And that's what I like when I tackle real work. To know nothing about it, expect nothing, be guided only by its author, and experience only my feelings without previously being driven by outside opinions.
I was taken aback by these short, jerky, cold sentences that didn't betray emotion from the first pages. How well seen from Camus! Because, through his pen, it is his Meursault who expresses himself, who tells himself, who tells us.
Camus very cleverly withdrew, so he left me alone with Meursault. And, nothing to do. I can't feel
sympathy, empathy, or even antipathy for this guy. He is impenetrable. He leaves me outside. The wall he has erected between him and me is impassable, even worse, between him and me.
As Meursault recounts, I learned Alexithymia is a term that existed long ago in particular circumstances.
Alexithymia is a personality construct characterized by the inability to identify and describe emotions in oneself. Individuals suffering from this dysfunction also find it difficult to distinguish and appreciate the feelings of others, which leads to a hopeless and ineffective psychological response.
Here is the drama of Meursault. He is a stranger. Stranger to himself. Stranger to others. Stranger to life. A stranger to everything. He passes and does pass. He walks past us, next to himself. Like a breath. Neither hot nor cold, impalpable, inconsistent, and without more consciousness.
Awesome Camus!
Profile Image for Luca Ambrosino.
83 reviews13.7k followers
February 3, 2020
English (The Stranger) / Italiano

"The Stranger" was suggested to me by the protagonist of another book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Actually, many books are cited in "The Perks of being a Wallflower", but "The Stranger" is the book that intrigued more the protagonist and me.

Meursault is a modest employee of French extraction who lives in Algiers. He lives his daily routine with indifference, unable to openly manifest even the simplest emotions. And it is with apathy that he learns the news of the death of his mother, who lived her last years in a hospice.

"Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure."
And it is again with apathy that one day, going to the beach with friends, Meursault kills an Arab. Emotionless, he undergoes the arrest and the consequent process, calmly accepting the inevitability of his destiny. Not a hero or an antihero, Meursault is the stranger par excellence, alien to all the emotional manifestations that are common to humans, more similar to an Asimovian android than to a man.

A small book that is consumed in one day, but it eats away at you for weeks.

Vote: 8


"Lo Straniero" mi è stato suggerito dal protagonista di un altro libro, Noi siamo infinito di Stephen Chbosky. In realtà se ne citano tanti di libri, in "Noi siamo Infinito", ma "Lo Straniero" è quello che più ha incuriosito il protagonista ed il sottoscritto.

Meursault è un modesto impiegato di origine francesi che vive ad Algeri. Vive la routine quotidiana con indifferenza, incapace di manifestare apertamente perfino le emozioni più semplici. Ed è con apatia che apprende la notizia della morte della madre, da tempo relegata in un ospizio.

"Oggi è morta mamma. O forse ieri, non so."
Ed è sempre con apatia che un giorno, recatosi in spiaggia con amici, Meursault uccide un arabo. Impassibile, subisce l'arresto ed il conseguente processo, accettando con calma l'ineluttabilità del suo destino. Né eroe né antieroe, Meursault è lo straniero per antonomasia, estraneo a tutte le manifestazioni emotive comuni agli esseri umani, simile più a un androide asimoviano che ad un uomo.

Un piccolo libro che si consuma in un giorno, ma che continua a roderti dentro per settimane.

Voto: 8

Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,194 reviews1,815 followers
November 27, 2022

Il film di Visconti è del 1967. Mersault è Marcello Mastroianni.

Già l’incipit è memorabile:
Oggi la mamma è morta. O forse ieri, non so. Ho ricevuto un telegramma dall’ospizio: “Madre deceduta. Funerali domani. Distinti saluti.” Questo non dice nulla: è stato forse ieri.

Continua tutto così questo librino, non perde un colpo, sarebbe da citare per intero, da mandarlo a mente, Lo straniero non si leva più dalla testa, ritorna a galla nel tempo, anche a distanza di anni, è ipnotico. Ma è anche un tarlo.
L’ho letto venticinque anni fa la prima volta. Da anni ho voglia di riprenderlo, la sua atmosfera e il suo umore mi tornano a galla – la recente lettura di Atti osceni in luogo pubblico mi ha finalmente spinto a farlo.

Il protagonista Mersault non tenta mai di descrivere le proprie sensazioni né di spiegare le proprie azioni, è spiazzante con la sua onestà lucida, è incapace di difendersi, di dire quello che gli altri vorrebbero sentirgli dire: per esempio, che gli dispiace, che è pentito.
Mersault direbbe che in un modo o nell’altro si è sempre un po’ in colpa, quindi perché pentirsi e dispiacersi?

Anna Karina con Mastroianni.

Basterebbe poco per evitare la condanna a morte, basterebbe anche una semplice confessione d’angoscia, basterebbe dire, ho sparato ma non volevo farlo, l’arabo era armato, mi ha spaventato, ho solo voluto difendermi – in fondo Mersault è bianco, ha ucciso un arabo, il giudice e i giurati sono pronti a riaccoglierlo nel consesso umano se solo lui mostrasse una traccia di rimorso, qualsiasi cosa che lo restituisca all’umanità, alla presunta normalità, che lo riavvicini al cristo in croce (la scena col giudice istruttore e quella finale col prete in carcere!).

Ma Mersault non sa fingere, neppure per salvarsi la vita riesce a falsificare la sua verità emotiva.
Mersault rifiuta le regole di quel gioco che si chiama vivere, e proprio per questo risulta insopportabile a chi deve giudicarlo: non verrà tanto punito per il suo delitto (che, ripeto, alla fine dei conti è semplicemente quello di un bianco che, per giunta quasi per legittima difesa, uccide un arabo nell’Algeria all’inizio degli anni Quaranta – ma non ho nessuna intenzione di attribuire a Camus tracce di razzismo) – Mersault verrà condannato a morte per come è, perché la sua colpa è quella di non essere un uomo come gli altri.

Il caldo… il sole… L’avvocato difensore di Mersault è interpretato da Bernard Blier.

È stato davvero Mersault a premere il grilletto, è davvero responsabile?
Non si tratta forse di una reazione a catena prodotta dalla natura stessa, dal destino?
Sembra questo il dubbio che Camus vuole insinuarci.
Il taciturno Mersault esplode: prima esplode i colpi contro l’arabo sulla spiaggia infuocata dalla luce accecante del sole, e poi esplode in urla nella cella contro il prete.
Così come dopo gli spari, così dopo le urla, alla fine della prima parte e alla fine del libro, Mersault liberato dalla speranza, torna a vivere le ore senza nome, ritrova la calma, e ritrova la dolce indifferenza del mondo.

L’indifferenza che ha reso celebre il personaggio di Mersault: quell’assenza di sentimenti che deriva dalla presa di coscienza dell’insensatezza, dell’assurdo, del vuoto che caratterizzano la condizione dell’uomo (l’esistenzialismo).
Ho risposto che non si cambia mai di vita, che del resto tutte le vite si equivalgono e che la mia, così com’era, non mi dispiaceva affatto. Lui mi è parso scontento, mi ha detto che rispondevo sempre a metà, che non avevo ambizione e che questo era disastroso, negli affari. Poi sono tornato al lavoro. Avrei preferito non scontentarlo, ma non vedevo una ragione di modificare la mia vita. A pensarci bene, non ero infelice. Da studente, avevo molte ambizioni di quel genere. Ma dopo che ho dovuto abbandonare gli studi ho capito molto presto che tutte queste cose non avevano una reale importanza.
La sera Maria è venuta a prendermi e mi ha domandato se volevo sposarla. Le ho detto che la cosa mi era indifferente, e che avremmo potuto farlo se lei voleva.


Mersault non sa, questa è spesso la sua risposta, “non so”: non sa esattamente quando è morta la madre, quanti anni avesse, non sa perché ha ucciso l’arabo sulla spiaggia…
Il non sapere di Mersault nasce dalla sua incolmabile distanza dalla vita, dalla sua estraneità al mondo, l’essere straniero del titolo: le cose succedono senza che il pensiero umano possa coglierne motivi e significati logici, e anche i comportamenti umani non riescono ad avere razionalità, e quindi giustificazione. Perciò, si può anche uccidere senza saper dire perché lo si è fatto.
Perciò, si può vivere il proprio processo e la propria condanna in modo inerte e distaccato, con atonia, senza partecipare, come se tutto stesse accadendo a qualcun altro, perché quello che accade non ha senso, e se anche lo avesse, noi non siamo in grado di comprenderlo.

E così Mersault mi ricorda il ‘preferirei di no’ di Bartleby, molto più che Joseph K o Raskol’nikov, secondo me avvicinati con troppa fretta, più per assonanza che per ragion veduta.

In questo libro il mondo esterno è più importante del mondo interno, il mondo delle cose conta più del mondo dei pensieri.
È un libro immerso nel silenzio, e nella luce.

Il film del 1967 è sicuramente opera minore di Visconti, un insuccesso, già dalla sua genesi: perché la vedova Camus pretese per contratto che il libro fosse rispettato alla lettera, e per essere sicura che così fosse impose un suo supervisore di fiducia alla sceneggiatura, Emmanuel Roblès.
Visconti voleva rifiutare, ma fu costretto dal produttore Dino De Laurentiis a realizzare il film rispettando l’accordo con Mme Camus.
Il risultato è un film fin troppo fedele al testo, un adattamento alla lettera, rigido, imbalsamato, che finisce con il tradire sia l’atmosfera che il significato del romanzo.

Durante le riprese, il regista Luchino Visconti accanto alla macchina da presa.

Nel film Mersault non è un uomo che cerca l’ombra e il silenzio, non è annichilito dall’intensità della luce (succede solo nella maldestra scena dell’omicidio), non è indifferente distante apatico, sembra più che altro vittima del caldo, menefreghista e pigro, forse anche a causa dell’interpretazione non convincente di Mastroianni, già troppo agé per fare Mersault.
Nonostante Visconti sia stato maestro del film in costume, questo risulta invece di ambientazione incerta, a volte troppo moderna, gli attori sono spesso vestiti con eccessiva eleganza per il ruolo che interpretano e le situazioni che attraversano, la qualità della recitazione lascia a desiderare.
Esiste anche un altro adattamento del 2001, Yazgi, del regista turco Zeki Demirkubuz, ma non sono ancora riuscito a vederlo.

Luchino Visconti e Marcello Mastroianni aspettano che il set sia pronto.

Avrei voluto trattenerlo, spiegargli che desideravo la sua simpatia non per essere meglio difeso, ma per un sentimento naturale, se così posso dire…. Desideravo dire che ero come tutti gli altri, assolutamente come tutti gli altri. Ma tutto questo, in fondo, non aveva una grande utilità, e per pigrizia ho rinunciato.

Luchino Visconti curava scrupolosamente ogni singolo dettaglio d'arredo e costume.
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
January 8, 2020
Mersault is a twenty-something clerk of great intelligence but no ambition, little expressed emotion and the attitude of why bother about everything there's nothing wrong with the status quo. But if pushed, by his girlfriend into marriage he will go along with it. Or when his violent pimp of a neighbour wants him to compose a letter to his mistress that is meant to result in extreme nastiness towards her (but backfires), he will act. It's as if inertia is his default. The only time he really shows emotion is when he is annoyed at the heat and glare of the sun, a major annoyance for such a commonplace event. It's the only time he acts of his own volition too.

His crime: Mersault is on the beach where he had been invited by his friend, the pimp, and sees one of the Arabs, brother to his friend's ex-mistress. The Arab has just stabbed his friend after the pimp attacked him. Mersault stares at him, he is annoyed to see him and annoyed that the sun is so hot, as hot as it was at his mother's funeral and it annoyed him then too, upset him more than his mother's death. The Arab flashes a knife. Mersault remembers he has the pimp's gun he took to prevent violence, and he shoots him. Then a few seconds later, he shoots the dead body four times more.

He is arrested. Once he has adjusted to prison life, he finds that he gets pleasure from his memories and looking at the small square patch of blue sky he can see from his cell. He says that if a person had one day only of freedom, it would create enough memories to live on for the rest of their life. But freedom or imprisonment, it's all the same to him. He is sure things will go his way.

He refuses to help his lawyer, denies the existence of god, has no belief in Jesus and shows no remorse at all. It is all the same to him. This, here and now, is all there is, he says, but although he says that, he wants more. Too late, the death knell rings and at the last moment he expresses emotion. When he is led to the guillotine he wants there to be a large and noisy crowd of people who hate him. The same people who were bemused that a law-abiding clerk could commit such a senseless, such an absurd murder. What is the purpose of this angry crowd? Why does he want them there? How else, without religion, can he expiate his sin?

Mersault is finely-drawn as one who watches but whose participation is limited to when it suits him. His lack of emotion means he is not immersed in situations, throwing his whole self into things as the very emotional people around him do. These people, his late mother's aged fiance, the pimp, his angry boss, the girlfriend who loves him, the mistress who fights back, the Arabs full of thoughts of revenge, the religious lawyer, are full of passion. But he is the outsider. He observes much and acts little. Except for the once.

Existentialism is, it isn't a philosophical choice, and Mersault, while holding those views, doesn't do so through conviction or acceptance, but more because of his damaged personality. Perhaps that is why Camus denied this was an existentialist book.

5 stars, plus 2 extra for genius writing and the strength of emotional involvement of the reader, or this reader at least.
Profile Image for Jr Bacdayan.
211 reviews1,741 followers
October 10, 2013
The Stranger by Albert Camus, though quite regarded by many as a great philosophical/existentialist novel (I'm gonna be a non-conformist here.) is not quite right for me. I'm really quite at odds here. Before anything else, I would like to state that I was rather pleased with the first half of the novel, but sadly not by the second. Sure, this novella exposes certain absurdities in our society. I'd agree to that. But for me, the truths that this book expounds upon is not enough to make up for the negativeness that it entails upon its readers.

In the way that I understand it, one of the point of his message in the end states that: What we do is not important, because we will all perish anyway. Why invest in morality, in relations, in feelings, when all that awaits us is certain death? Sure, life can be absurd at times. Sure, we'll all die. But just because of these known realities, should we throw away things that make sense? Throw away our life? Should the negative destroy the positive? It comes to me like this. Because we urinate what we drink, then it doesn't matter whether we drink muddy water or urine or orange juice. We'll all urinate them later just the same. Sick. Why do we live? Do we live because there might be a slight chance of immortality? Do we live because everything makes sense? We live in-spite of everything. We live because we do. Our consciousness is being insulted, our intelligence trampled, and our life spit-upon by this very grim way of thinking. His insistence that one can just about get used to anything shows man's innate capability to adjust. That we plow on through obstacles and hardships. That we fight even if we encounter difficulties and absurdities. He suggests we shouldn't. That we lay useless and wait for death. Not for me. Go do that yourself. His very pessimistic and rather narrow way of looking at life and death rather pissed me off.

Secondly, the very glaring message of indifference rather fires back against Camus's message of non-conformity. You see, indifference, transforms a person in a passive state. And this passive state will easier conform to the norms of society than resist. Personally for me, it is the worst kind of attitude that a person can attain. Intellectually, Camus makes a point. But in the real world, indifference is what destroys this planet. Indifference causes global warming, causes pollution, causes mass extinction. People who don't care are more dangerous than crazy people. Why? Because there are few really crazy people, but there are billions of people who simply don't give a shit. Hitler was mad as hell, all the German soldiers were just indifferent. Indifference is tricky because you're stranded in a solid state of passivity and it's very hard to sway you from one view to another. A person who thinks that littering is good is better than a person who doesn't care if he litters. At least, the former can be persuaded to change his views, but the latter won't under any circumstances. Indifference is a problem without a solution. And this particular message is the worst for me.

Now, we've come to a part where I partly agree with Camus but still not quite. That no matter what truths are, all that matters is what each individual's personal choice is. That we shouldn't impose upon others. He equips Meursault with a sort of a Moral Relativism belief (that truths are essentially based on each person's paradigms/cultures/construct) while the Priest that of Moral Realism (that truths are based on a certain definite, universal set). He uses this clash of beliefs to set a stage for his final act and I expected/wanted a rather different outcome. I was rather disappointed. I agree that Meursault found some sort of solitude in losing hope, in his final indifference. But I expected Meursault to find some sort of closure in the acceptance of death as a necessary and meaningful event. That death allows us to appreciate life. I expected that in the end even though I knew it had no chance of happening. The surrealist/existentialist Camus would never do that. But I never expected that it would be as grim and bleak as it was.

“Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why. So did he. Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living. What did other people's deaths or a mother's love matter to me; what did his God or the lives people choose or the fate they think they elect matter to me when we're all elected by the same fate, me and billions of privileged people like him who also called themselves my brothers? Couldn't he see, couldn't he see that? Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people. The others would all be condemned one day. And he would be condemned, too.”

I ate, but I wasn't nourished. I was poisoned.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
May 4, 2019
The Stranger was first published by Albert Camus in the original French in 1942.

I cannot help comparing the hollowness, the emptiness in Meursault’s soul to the soldier in Hemingway’s short story “Soldier's Home”. But in that story, Hemingway describes a change from the war and his reactions are connected with his recent martial experiences.

Camus makes no mention of Meursault’s past experience, his emptiness is fundamental to his soul, and his reaction is to the world in general. Camus introduces us to his ideas about absurdity, abut how futile it is for us to try, desperately and mostly irrationally, to make sense out of the universe, to try and parcel out a small lot of order amidst a sea of chaos.

Such ideas of family, justice, religion and nationality appear in Camus’ perspective to be pale and insignificant abstractions in a furnace like hell of indifference.

The closing scenes between Meursault and the priest are in rare, high and thin air in the world of literature and I could only think of the final confrontation between Raskolnikov and Porfiry in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment for an adequate comparison.

This is a short and easy read, but heavy with inference and provocation.

Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,443 followers
April 14, 2023
Prin 2019, am dat 4 steluțe cărții, dar nu m-am învrednicit să scriu o notă de lectură. O fac acum, nu înainte de a preciza că e vorba, neîndoielnic, de un roman important.

În definitiv, de ce este Meursault condamnat la moarte? Prin ce se deosebește de ceilalți? De ce este considerat un „străin”? Primul răspuns a venit chiar de la autor: „În societatea noastră, orice om care nu plînge la înmormîntarea mamei sale riscă să fie pedepsit”. Așadar, omul trebuie să respecte obiceiurile, să facă și să fie ca toți ceilalți. Pe cel care nu urmează cutumele îl așteaptă ghilotina.

Ce e în neregulă cu Meursault? Înainte de a răspunde, aș preciza, în treacăt, că eroul ucide, totuși, în legitimă apărare. Puțini au remarcat asta, deși naratorul e limpede: „Am făcut un pas, un singur pas înainte. Şi, de astă dată, fără să se ridice, arabul a scos cuţitul pe care mi l-a arătat în soare. Lumina a ţîşnit din oţel ca o lamă lungă”. Probabil că arabul n-a scos cuțitul ca să-i admire lucrătura. Și nici ca să i-l vîndă lui Meursault.

Prima însușire a lui Meursault e că nu se poate preface, e incapabil de minciună, nu stăpînește meșteșugul ipocriziei: „Se apropia de sicriu cînd l-am oprit. Mi-a spus: «Nu vreţi?» Am răspuns: «Nu!» El s-a oprit şi eu mă simţeam prost, pentru că îmi dădeam seama că n-ar fi trebuit să spun asta. După un timp, s-a uitat la mine şi m-a întrebat: «De ce?», dar fără reproş, ca şi cum ar fi vrut numai să ştie pricina. Am spus: «Nu ştiu»”. Sinceritatea îl transformă pe Meursault într-un individ bizar, asocial, imposibil de înțeles.

În al doilea rînd, protagonistul e non-afectiv. N-o iubește pe Maria Cardona, deși s-ar căsători oricînd cu ea. Îi tratează pe ceilalți cu nepăsare și nu vrea (sau nu poate) să-și justifice atitudinea: „În faţa acestei nopţi încărcate de semne şi de stele, mă deschideam pentru prima oară tandrei indiferenţe a lumii. Simţind-o atît de asemănătoare mie, atît de frăţească în sfîrşit”.

Mario Vargas Llosa crede că Meursault e o „prefigurare a unui prototip contemporan” (Adevărul minciunilor, 2005, p.158): individul taciturn, apatic, obsedat de plăceri, retras...

Aș remarca, în încheiere, stilul economic / minimalist al prozatorului. Străinul e compus din multe propoziții simple (subiect + verb + complement + punct). Cînd a primit manuscrisul, André Malraux i-a reproșat lui Camus tocmai „sărăcia” exprimării. N-a reușit să-l convingă să mai pună niște epitete, niște adverbe. Camus nu și-a „lungit” propozițiile. Începutul cărții e clasic: „Mama a murit azi. Sau poate ieri, nu știu precis”: „Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas”.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
April 22, 2019
“Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.”

The protagonist, Meursault, just doesn’t give a fuck about anything. He just doesn’t care; he is totally indifferent about where he is and who he is with, and it’s terrifying. He has no emotional responses. He is, without a doubt, dead inside. He can’t feel and he cannot empathise. He lives in the now, utterly unable to comprehend tomorrow or the past: he simply exists in the moment, experiencing all that his senses can detect. And those senses are limited to his own physical sensations.

He murders because the sun is in his eyes. He attends his mother’s funeral and all he can think about is his own tiredness and need for sleep. His fiancé greets him with love in her eyes and he doesn’t see a person, all he sees is a pair of tits. That’s it, whenever she comes near him all he remarks on is the shape of her breasts. She is just a body to him, a means for him to sate his own bodily needs. He cannot understand that she has emotions and that his cold behaviour will affect them. And this makes me think he may be somewhere on the autism spectrum, an extreme pole of the autism spectrum I should say. He struggles socially and engages in a lot of preformative behaviour simply saying things because he must: it is required of him. He doesn’t understand the feelings of others, offering only indifferent comments that are unintentionally cold and quite hurtful to those he speaks to.

Though in depicting such a character, Albert Camus has opened one of the biggest literary mysteries of all time: what happened to this man? Why is he like this? We see his story in its endgame, but there are no mentions as to why he is so detached. Was he born this way? Is this an extreme case of a social disorder? Did someone break his heart? What ever happened to him? I could speculate about this all day. There are so many possible answers, and so many ways a man could become so lifeless. In a way, he reminded me of an awkward child or teen. He has no voice and no way of forming his own opinions or conversation. He’s just drifting through life, acting the motions he doesn’t really understand.

And in such it’s reminiscent of Kafka’s work. It’s certainly more normal. There’s no sense of the macabre or unusual, but there is a sense of detachment, alienation and the feeling of loneliness in an overbearing world. In a way, the book has an almost haunting like quality to it. Well, it certainly has left me feeling unnerved and puzzled as I ponder over what caused such a situation. Meursault just seemed a little bit lost to me, different to all those around him with his introverted personality. He seemed trapped, living in a world he cannot fully comprehend or relate to.

The Outsider is a very strong piece of writing; however, it is ever so subtle. It lacks a certain power and purpose. Some readers think Meursault’s lack of conformity was purposeful, a refusal to be like everyone else and experience the same emotions, though I see him as more of a victim of his own terrible coldness: it’s simply who he is, and this is the story of how he suffered because of it.

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Profile Image for İntellecta.
199 reviews1,558 followers
February 20, 2021
The novel begins with the words:
"Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know."
The laconic style sets an invariable counterpoint to the poetic, occasionally ornamented artistic language.
Albert Camus gilded as one of the most important literary and philosophical thinkers of the post-war period. The Nobel Prize laureate of 1957, which also focused on political questions before. The novel is an absurd work, up to the last sentence. He is also in the position in which the death-journey of a man who has already stagnated in life, who recalls, at the moment of the expected death, that life whose level is not retarded, war for many the conscience of France.

An absolute classic of world literature!
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,279 followers
October 20, 2016
In Search of Lost Time

The Stranger is a perplexing book: on the surface, the story and writing are simple and straightforward; yet what exactly lies underneath this surface is difficult to decipher. We can all agree that it is a philosophical novel; yet many readers, I suspect, are left unsure what the philosophical lesson was. This isn’t one of Aesop’s fables. Yes, Camus hits you over the head with something; but the hard impact makes it difficult to remember quite what.

After a long and embarrassingly difficult reread (I’d decided to struggle through the original French this time), my original guess as to the deeper meaning of this book was confirmed: this is a book about time. It is, I think, an allegorical exploration of how our experience of time shapes who we are, what we think, and how we live.

Time is highlighted in the very first sentence: Meursault isn’t quite sure what day his mother passed. Then, he makes another blunder in requesting two days off for the funeral, instead of one—for he forgot that the weekend was coming. How old was his mother when she died? Meursault isn’t sure. Clearly, time is a problem for this fellow. What sort of a man is this, who doesn’t keep track of the days of the week or his mother’s age? What does he think about, then?

For the first half of the book, Meursault is entirely absorbed in the present moment: sensations, desires, fleeting thoughts. He thinks neither of the past nor of the future, but only of what’s right in front of him. This is the root of his apathy. When you are absolutely absorbed in the present, the only things that can occupy your attention are bodily desires and passing fancies. Genuine care or concern, real interest of any kind, is dependent on a past and a future: in our past, we undergo experiences, develop affections, and emotionally invest; and these investments, in turn, shape our actions—we tailor our behavior to bring us closer to the things we care about. Without ever thinking of the past or the future, therefore, our life is a passing dream, a causeless chaos that dances in front of our eyes.

This is reflected in the language Camus uses. As Sartre noted, “The sentences in The Stranger are islands. We tumble from sentence to sentence, from nothingness to nothingness.” By this, Sartre merely wishes to highlight one aspect of Meursault’s thought-process, as mirrored in Camus’s prose: it avoids all causal connection. One thing happens, another thing happens, and then a third thing. This is why Camus so often sounds like Hemingway in this book: the clipped sentences reflect the discontinuous instants of time that pass like disjointed photographs before the eyes of Meursault. There is no making sense of your environment when you are residing in the immediate, for making sense of anything requires abstraction, and abstraction requires memory (how can you abstract a quality from two separate instances if you cannot hold the two instances in your mind at once?).

Now, the really disturbing thing, for me, is how easily Meursault gets along in this condition. He makes friends, he has a job, he even gets a girlfriend; and for quite a long time, at least, he didn’t get into trouble. Yet the reader is aware that Meursault is, if not a sociopath, at least quite close to being one. So how is he getting along so well? This, I think, is the social critique hidden in this book.

Meursault lives a perfectly conventional life; for a Frenchman living in Algeria during this time, his life could hardly be more ordinary. This is no coincidence; because he's not interested in or capable of making decisions, Meusault has simply fallen into the path provided for him by his society. In fact, Meursault's society had pre-fabricated everything a person might need, pre-determining his options to such an extent that he could go through life without ever making a decision. Meursault got along so well without having to make decisions because he was never asked to make one. Every decision was made by convention, every option conscribed by custom. If Meursault had not been locked up, chances are he would have simply married Marie. Why? Because that’s what one does.

So Camus lays out a problem: custom prevents us from thinking by circumscribing our decisions. But Camus does not only offer a diagnoses; he prescribes a solution. For this, we must return to the subject of time. When Meursault gets imprisoned, he is at first unhappy because he is no longer able to satisfy his immediate desires. He has been removed from society and from its resources. This produces a fascinating change in him: instead of being totally absorbed in the present moment, Meursault begins to cultivate a sense of the past. He explores his memories. For the first time, he is able, by pure force of will, to redirect his attention from what is right in front of him to something that is distant and gone. He now has a present and a past; and his psychology develops a concomitant depth. The language gets less jerky towards the end, and more like a proper narrative.

This real breakthrough, however, doesn’t happen until Meursault is forced to contemplate the future; and this, of course, happens when he is sentenced to death. His thoughts are suddenly flung towards some future event—the vanishing of his existence. Thus, the circle opened at the beginning is closed at the end, with a perfect loop: the novel ends with a hope for what will come, just as it began with ignorance and apathy for what has passed. Meursault’s final breakthrough is a complete sense of time—past, present, and future—giving him a fascinating depth and profundity wholly lacking at the beginning of the book.

In order to regain this sense of time, Meursault had to do two things: first, remove himself from the tyranny of custom; second, contemplate his own death. And these two are, you see, related: for custom discourages us from thinking about our mortality. Here we have another opened and closed circle. In the beginning of the book, Meusault goes through the rituals associated with the death of a family member. These rituals are pre-determined and conventional; death is covered with a patina of familiarity—it is made into a routine matter, to be dealt with like paying taxes or organizing a trip to the beach. Meusault has to do nothing except show up. The ceremony he witnesses is more or less the same ceremony given to everyone. (Also note that the ceremony is so scripted that he is later chastised for not properly playing the part.)

At the end of the book, society attempts once again to cover up death—this time, in the form of the chaplain. The chaplain is doing just what the funeral ceremony did: conceal death, this time with a belief about God and repentance and the afterlife. You see, even on death row, society has its conventions for death; death is intentionally obscured with rituals and ceremonies and beliefs.

Meursault’s repentance comes by penetrating this illusion, by throwing off the veil of convention and staring directly at his own end. In this one act, he transcends the tyranny of custom and, for the first time in his life, becomes free. This is the closest I can come to an Aesopian moral: Without directly facing our own mortality, we have no impetus to break out of the hamster-wheel of conventional choices. Our lives are pre-arranged and organized, even before we are born; but when death is understood for what it is—a complete and irreversible end—then it spurs us to reject the idle-talk and comforting beliefs presented to us, and to live freely.

This is what Camus would have all of us do: project our thoughts towards our own inescapable end, free of all illusions, so as to regain our ability to make real choices, rather than to chose from a pre-determined menu. Only this way will we cease to be strangers to ourselves.

(At least, that is the Heideggerian fable I think he was going for.)
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835 reviews313 followers
March 12, 2019
Apathy is this man's primary way of dealing with the world. His mother dies and he goes to her funeral, yet he feels nothing, except tired and hot and drowsy. He is hungry and so he eats. He is aroused and has sex with a girl. He has a gun and the sun is hot and irritates him so he shoots a man 5 times and kills him. That is the first part of the book.

In the second part of the book, comes the trial.The man is human in form, but does not feel emotions or empathy towards others. He is honest about this. His lawyer does not appreciate his truthfulness, as it hurts his case. At least, he has not learned to hide his inhumanity. He creates no false mask. You or society must take him as he is. Society decides to kill him. Isn't this as inhuman as what the man has done? Cold and calculating, the court finds him deficient and so he must die.
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