- Series: The strager
- Paperback: 123 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (March 13, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679720200
- ISBN-13: 978-0679720201
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,212 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book seems to progress really slowly so it lost me towards the beginning and I was just trudging through it. Everything seems so slow yet events are progressing rapidly. I feel that this is a perfect representation of Meursault’s mind state; he is processing a million different things at once and yet he is in a constant state of inner peace because nothing affects him. However, once I got into part 2 of the book I read through it in one sitting because you are just begging for the moment Meursault breaks and finally shows some true humanity. You keep turning the pages, praying for him to finally show that he can be affected by the very unexpected turn of events.
I am still not entirely sure of how I feel about this book. Usually I have a very clear, distinct opinion of the novel by the time I finish it but with The Stranger there is a lot of gray area. Sometimes my attachment to certain characters affects my judgment on the book because I start to question their motives and actions, even if that has nothing to do with the actual quality of the novel and its writing. The writing in this novel is absolutely breath taking though. The descriptions of the power of the sun, the sky, and the stars blew me away and I was begging for more. It seemed that at times the sun and the sky were more influential aspects to the novel and Meursault that other characters were. Meursault is a stranger to humanity. He does not feel, does not regret, he just lives. He lives a very sad, pitiful life but he is still living. Part 1 just demonstrates that as much of a monster we believe Mersault to be because he smoked at his mother’s funeral or because he had sex the day after she was buried, the greatest monsters on the planet are the ones who are capable to feel, to love, to lose and continue to hurt others around them.
Protagonists of novels are often portrayed as heroes (whether triumphant or tragic), but Meursault certainly isn't. The reader is unlikely to extol or even respect him from virtually any perspective. However, because the story is powerfully told in the first person, the reader can comprehend Meursault's motivations to some extent and is therefore unlikely to despise him greatly. The feeling I had for him after reading the book is one of hostile sympathy: hostility toward what I saw as his unworthy character yet sympathy for his ending up the way he did mentally due at least partly to circumstance and upbringing.
The Stranger moved me much more than books of this length (~150 pages) generally do. It might do the same for you. I think the main learning I had from reading this is the awareness that there are likely thousands or even millions of people in the world who generally think and act like Meursault, and it's probably not entirely their fault they turned out like that. Regardless of fault, it's greatly alarming that so many people live perhaps their entire adult lives as Strangers.