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The Stranger

953 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679720201
ISBN-10: 0679720200
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Editorial Reviews Review

The Stranger is not merely one of the most widely read novels of the 20th century, but one of the books likely to outlive it. Written in 1946, Camus's compelling and troubling tale of a disaffected, apparently amoral young man has earned a durable popularity (and remains a staple of U.S. high school literature courses) in part because it reveals so vividly the anxieties of its time. Alienation, the fear of anonymity, spiritual doubt--all could have been given a purely modern inflection in the hands of a lesser talent than Camus, who won the Nobel Prize in 1957 and was noted for his existentialist aesthetic. The remarkable trick of The Stranger, however, is that it's not mired in period philosophy.

The plot is simple. A young Algerian, Meursault, afflicted with a sort of aimless inertia, becomes embroiled in the petty intrigues of a local pimp and, somewhat inexplicably, ends up killing a man. Once he's imprisoned and eventually brought to trial, his crime, it becomes apparent, is not so much the arguably defensible murder he has committed as it is his deficient character. The trial's proceedings are absurd, a parsing of incidental trivialities--that Meursault, for instance, seemed unmoved by his own mother's death and then attended a comic movie the evening after her funeral are two ostensibly damning facts--so that the eventual sentence the jury issues is both ridiculous and inevitable.

Meursault remains a cipher nearly to the story's end--dispassionate, clinical, disengaged from his own emotions. "She wanted to know if I loved her," he says of his girlfriend. "I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn't mean anything but that I probably didn't." There's a latent ominousness in such observations, a sense that devotion is nothing more than self-delusion. It's undoubtedly true that Meursault exhibits an extreme of resignation; however, his confrontation with "the gentle indifference of the world" remains as compelling as it was when Camus first recounted it. --Ben Guterson

From Library Journal

The new translation of Camus's classic is a cultural event; the translation of Cocteau's diary is a literary event. Both translations are superb, but Ward's will affect a naturalized narrative, while Browner's will strengthen Cocteau's reemerging critical standing. Since 1946 untold thousands of American students have read a broadly interpretative, albeit beautifully crafted British Stranger . Such readers have closed Part I on "door of undoing" and Part II on "howls of execration." Now with the domestications pruned away from the text, students will be as close to the original as another language will allow: "door of unhappiness" and "cries of hate." Browner has no need to "write-over" another translation. With Cocteau's reputation chiefly as a cineaste until recently, he has been read in French or not at all. Further, the essay puts a translator under less pressure to normalize for readers' expectations. Both translations show the current trend to stay closer to the original. Marilyn Gaddis Rose, SUNY at Binghamton
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: The strager
  • Paperback: 123 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 13, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679720200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679720201
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (953 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

278 of 301 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Stranger is a haunting, challenging masterpiece of literature. While it is fiction, it actually manages to express the complex concepts and themes of existential philosophy better than the movement's most noted philosophical writings and almost as well as Dostoyevsky's Notes From the Underground. This is a new kind of literature. The story in and of itself is rather simple, but the glimpses into the intellect and feelings of the protagonist are the sources of the magic of this novel. M.Meursault is a normal man in Algiers, France. When we meet him, he is on the way to his mother's funeral, where he says very little, expresses no remorse over her death, and immediately returns home. The next day, he goes swimming, meets Marie, takes her to see a comedy that night, and spends the next few weeks living his normal life and occassionally seeing Marie. He ends up getting indirectly involved in a dispute between his neighbor Raymond and a girl who did him wrong, and the conflict culminates in an encounter on the beach between Raymond, Meursault, and the girl's Arab brother and friend. Raymond is cut with a knife, but the whole episode seems to be resolved. Meursault, though, decides later to take another walk on the beach because he is too worn out to go inside and rejoin his friends, and somewhat inexplicably he ends up killing one of the Arabs. The second half of the novel examines Meursault's thoughts in relation to his trial and sentence; interestingly, he is prosecuted as much if not more for his moral character than for the crime of murder itself.
Basically, Meursault does not care about anything, does not feel anything for anyone (including himself, for the most part).
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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful By David Swan VINE VOICE on June 21, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first started reading `The Stranger' by Albert Camus it seemed rather dull. It's a first person account from a somewhat bland character named Meursault, the titular `Stranger'. While working my way through the book I had to wonder if an alternate translation, `The Outsider', would be more appropriate for `L'Étranger'. Meursault is a Frenchmen living on Algeria but in no way is he a stranger. He has a circle of friends, a job and even a girlfriend. What sets him apart from humanity is his possibly pathological indifference to just about anything whether it be abuse of a dog, abuse of a woman or even the death of his own mother. Not that he engages in abuse it's just that he seems unaffected by the suffering of others. Other descriptions I've read on this book have described Meursault as honest to a fault with this being his downfall. I'm not sure that gives people the correct impression. Meursault's honesty is not the kind where you tell a fat woman she's fat. His downfall is more his inability to feign sorrow, regret or empathy. When his girlfriend asks if he loves her he considers it and answers "no" without any thought that the answer might be painful to hear. About half way through the book, in a bizarre set of circumstances, Meursault ends up killing a man and when asked by the police if he feels regret he says he never looks on the past with regret and in this case feels only vexation. There is no evident malice only utter insensitivity.

Philosophically The Stranger is one of the most intriguing and moving books I have ever read particularly the final act where Meursault confronts the priest who attempts to lead him to the Christian God in the last days before his execution.
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117 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Lyman on January 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Without a doubt one of the most important books of the 20th century, The Stranger is a classic piece of literature and one of the literary pillars of existentialism, a movement that continues to color the way we see the world.
The storyline is very simple: a young and aimless Algerian immigrant to France, Meursault, unmoved by his mother's death, becomes involved in petty events beyond his control and ends up killing someone. The trial is a ridiculous farce, and the real art comes from the way Meursault dispassionately describes the events overtaking him: the funeral, the trial, the sentencing. The story is at once beautiful and unsettling.
Of course, none of this is anything that hasn't already been said among the other reviews here. What prompted me to write a review about this now (after all, I had first read this story more than 20 years ago and have only re-read parts of it recently) is the new and much-heralded translation from Matthew Ward. Mr. Ward's work has been almost universally praised by critics, who have called it an essential update and a production that will make the book more accessible to American audiences.
That may be so, but I can't escape the feeling that it also cheapens this great book. I realize that some traditionalists will always accuse a modern translator of a classic piece of literature of tampering with art. But even if I keep that in mind as I read The Stranger in its newest form, I still get that sinking feeling.
Take the opening paragraph, for example. I have always considered the opening lines in The Stranger among the best in the western literary cannon, and they seem to lose firepower in Mr. Ward's version of the story: "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe. I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: `Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow.
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