Book Review: The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Stranger

Let me tell you something: I do not purposefully look for deeper meanings in books. Most of the time, a blue-shuttered house is just a blue-shuttered house, and that’s all the author wanted it to mean as they created their world.

However, when I stumble across a novel that really makes the audience think, and that was the author’s intentions, I can’t help but throw my hands up in glee and then disappear into the book the rest of the day.

One such story that had me giddy with musings is The Stranger by Albert Camus. Camus was a French philosopher and wrote quite a few books. I believe his most famous is The Myth of Sisyphus, but I’ve only been so lucky to read The Stranger and A Happy Death. Both are incredible and deal with questions revolving around humanity and society. What defines humanity? What makes us apart of society as a whole?

The Stranger actually won the Noble Prize in Literature in 1957 and has countless translations. It can also be titled The Outsider, and the translation seen most often is the newest translation by Matthew Ward (I actually picked up one of these copies as a gift for a friend from the nearest Barnes and Noble).

In The Stranger, Camus writes from the point of view as a man named Meursault. The first scene is his mother’s funeral at which he does not cry or mourn. His life is fairly standard except for his seeming detachment from the rest of his peers and family, and the audience is left to deduce throughout the novella why Meursault thinks the way he does and why he is persecuted for it.

There are so many educational standpoints that this book has, and my favorite is just the following question: What is human nature? If you’re looking for an introspective, frustrating, eye-opening read, Camus is your man. I think on an entertainment level this would appeal most to adults or readers who aren’t interested in fantasy. This is as far from the fantastical/ sci-fi/ feel good novels that I usually frequent, but sometimes I feel it’s better to treat your mind to something unexpected. Plus, Camus’ inherent themes and provocations really get the imagination going in a way many fantasy stories can illicit.