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Outsider (Everyman's Library Classics) Hardcover – International Edition, May, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


Smith's new version ... treats Camus' text with respect, directness and an unexpected delicateness. She reveals, and permits, an original edgy strangeness in the prose itself; she treats it sensually, listening to Camus' original sentence structures and lengths, and to the rhythmic fall of his prose -- Ali Smith The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Everyman's Library Classics
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library Ltd (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857151399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857151398
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
This 1942 classic is about a man, Meursault, who shoots an Arab eight times without premeditation because he, Meursault, is overcome by the heat of the Algerian sun. He is unable to explain what he did and is sentenced to death.

The book received many interpretations, including it being (1) a psychological exploration of Meursault's mind, a mind developed during an unfavorable upbringing, (2) a thriller portraying an existential philosophy, and (3) as Camus himself claims, Meursault is a man who is "condemned because he doesn't play the game. In this sense, he is an outsider to the society in which he lives, wandering on the fringe, on the outskirt of life, solitary and sensual." By "playing the game," Camus means inventing reasons for one's thoughts and behaviors, even life itself, which are untrue, because people really don't know why they act as they do and what is the meaning of life; so they invent conventions and values that are not related to reality or how they really feel. But Meursault insists upon being honest, doing and saying only what he knows to be true, not what people want or need to hear. Thus, despite the conventional requirement to cry at his mother's funeral or show regret for killing a man, he doesn't display these emotions because he doesn't feel them.

Thus, Camus is dramatizing the idea of the "absurdity of life," that life has no known meaning; people are unable to discover the true purpose and design of anything, and the explanations they give may make them feel good, but are not true. People insist on living a life ruled by the laws of morality, of "right" and "wrong." But Meursault rejects morality and lives a life based on "truth."

Camus, of course, was not the first to notice that people are unable to know life's purpose.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Makeup Artist on November 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This new translation by the esteemed translator of French literature, Sandra Smith, breathes new life into this classic piece of literature. You must read this version to gain a fresh perspective. I highly recommend this book!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Zenger on May 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Albert Camus' "Outsider" is a short, to the point, two part novel. The first introduces us to the characters and leads up to the killing of an Arab on the beach by the principal characters. The second follows his ordeal afterwards, his thoughts and his trial. He is persecuted as a cold killer due to his lack of visible emotion or remorse. He is concerned only for himself.
As mentioned in a previous review, this is a book of thought and questioning. Camus questions the pillars of Western society and questions humanities uncanny ability to believe that the majority is correct and that anybody else is different and thus can be persecuted.
I would recommed "Outsider" for a quick, extremely thought-provoking read. This classic is reknowned as one of the basic foundations of existentialist philosophy.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Originally L'Etranger, the english version I read was (obviously) a translation from the original French language in which the book was conceived.
The story is in two parts. The first is of Meursault, the main character- establishing and developing his character. It traces his days up until the point where he commits a murder for no apparent reason. The second part describes his incarceration, reflections on what has transpired, and his trial.
It is written plainly enough to be taken as a simple story, which makes it somewhat enjoyable on a most basic level- though to take it as such ultimately defies the purpose of the novel. I wish my French was strong enough to have read the original. I hate translations as they destroy half of any author's story- the language he chooses for his tale.
Historically, the book was partly written to defy the conventions of the time by utilizing the common daily language of the people (instead of the rigid formality that was enforced at the time). It was also written to identify, interpret, explain the ins and outs of Existentialist thought.
The basis of Existentialism, as I understand it, is that life is simply what it is, and no more. Concepts such as God, Heaven, Hell, the Soul, Eternity, Destiny, and so on, are but illusions that we feed upon to define some form of meaning for ourselves. Wake up, (says the Existentialist) your life is only your life. You are not pre-ordained to greatness. There is no Master Plan. You live and die, and in between you will make some choices that are of no ultimate consequence- nothing stops when you do; only you cease to exist. Our life, if I may, is just the flip-side of a coin. When no one is flipping anymore, the coin remains.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on May 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Meursault is a clerk in Algiers, an intentionally non-descript young man with no particularly interesting traits, characteristics, skills or habits. Now considered to be mandatory reading for those interested in notions of existential or nihilist philosophy, Albert Camus' "The Outsider" or "L'Étranger" is the story of Meursault's life. Or perhaps it might be more precise to suggest that it is the tale of Meursault's indifference to and virtually complete lack of participation in the events surrounding him - how, in a sense, he is almost an indifferent, meta-observer of his own diffident state of being.

As the story opens, Meursault is told of his mother's death and, although he grudgingly attends her funeral, he does not weep nor does he display any of the typical reactions or emotions that are expected of a person in his situation. In fact, instead of mourning, he engages in a casual sexual relationship with a former acquaintance that he enountered that day. A few days after the funeral, as a result of an almost absurd string of events and circumstances, Meursault shoots and kills a man. But rather than displaying any remorse or concern, we witness Meursault casually sit through his own trial and judgment with virtually complete detachment and indifference. Before his execution, a chaplain attempts to discuss matters of faith with him and turn him to God but, as with other events in his life, Meursault is disinterested and reconciled to the world's lack of interest in him and his fate as well.

In trying to make some sense of what I had read, I wanted to at least learn a little bit about existentialism.
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