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Encyclopedia > The Stranger (novel)
The Stranger/The Outsider
Author Albert Camus
Country France
Language Translated from French
Genre(s) Absurdist, Existentialist
Publisher Libraire Gallimard
Publication date 1943
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 117 p. (UK Penguin Classics paperback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-14-118250-4 (UK Penguin Classics paperback edition)
 

The Stranger, or The Outsider, (from the French L’Étranger, 1942) is a novel by Albert Camus. It is one of the best-known examples of absurdist fiction. Image File history File links TheStranger_BookCover3. ... Albert Camus (pronounced )( ) (November 7, 1913 – January 4, 1960) was an Algerian-French author and philosopher. ... In political geography and international politics, a country is a political division of a geographical entity, a sovereign territory, most commonly associated with the notions of state or nation and government. ... Absurdism is a philosophy, usually translated into different art forms, that holds that any attempt to understand the universe will fail. ... Existentialism is a philosophical movement emphasizing individualism, individual freedom, and subjectivity. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Éditions Gallimard is the second most important French publisher, and probably the most respected. ... Year 1943 (MCMXLIII) was a common year starting on Friday (the link will display full 1943 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) book is bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth or heavy paper) and a stitched spine. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... ISBN-13 represented as EAN-13 bar code (in this case ISBN 978-3-16-148410-0) The International Standard Book Number, ISBN, is a unique[1] commercial book identifier barcode. ... 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1942 calendar). ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... Albert Camus (pronounced )( ) (November 7, 1913 – January 4, 1960) was an Algerian-French author and philosopher. ... Absurdism is a philosophy stating that the efforts of humanity to find meaning in the universe will ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists, at least in relation to humanity. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...

Contents

Plot summary

The novel tells the story of an alienated man, Meursault, who eventually commits a murder and waits to be executed. The book uses an Algerian setting, drawn from Camus's own upbringing. Look up alienation, alienate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


At the start of the novel, Meursault attends his mother's funeral, where he does not express any emotions. The novel goes on to document the next few days of his life, through the first person point-of-view. In these days, he befriends one of his neighbors, Raymond Sintès. He aids Raymond in dismissing an Arab mistress of his. Later, the two confront the woman's brothers on a beach and Raymond gets cut in the resulting knife fight. Meursault afterwards goes back to the beach and shoots one of them, in response to the glare of the sun. Consequently, "The Arab" is killed. Meursault then fires four more times at the dead body. This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... First-person narrative is a literary technique in which the story is narrated by one character, who explicitly refers to him or herself in the first person, that is, I. the narrator is a fool putting his nose into the storytelling exercise. ...


At the trial, those prosecuting seem more interested on the inability or unwillingness of Meursault to cry at his mother's funeral. The killing of the Arab apparently is less important than whether Meursault is capable of remorse. The argument follows that if Meursault is incapable of remorse, he should be considered a dangerous misanthrope and subsequently executed to prevent him from doing it again, and making him an example to those considering murder. People feel remorse when reflecting on their actions that they believe are wrong. ... Misanthropy is a hatred or distrust of the human race, or a disposition to dislike and/or distrust other people. ...


As the novel comes to a close, Meursault meets with a chaplain, and is enraged by the chaplain's insistence that he turn to God. The novel ends with Meursault recognizing the universe's indifference for humankind. The final lines echo his new realization: "As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother, really — 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]


The background and philosophy

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Albert Camus, like Meursault, was a pied-noir (literally black foot)—a Frenchman who lived in the Maghreb, the northernmost crescent of Africa along the Mediterranean Sea, the heart of France's colonies. Image File history File links Circle-question. ... Albert Camus (pronounced )( ) (November 7, 1913 – January 4, 1960) was an Algerian-French author and philosopher. ... Pied-noir is a term for the former French colonists of North Africa, especially Algeria. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... Composite satellite image of the Mediterranean Sea. ...


Usually classed as an existential novel, The Stranger is indeed based on Camus's theory of the absurd. In the first half of the novel Meursault is clearly an unreflecting, unapologetic individual. He is moved only by sensory experiences (the funeral procession, swimming at the beach, sexual intercourse with Marie, etc). Camus is reinforcing his basic thesis that there is no Truth, only (relative) truths—and, in particular, that truths in science (empiricism/rationality) and religion are ultimately meaningless. Of course, Meursault himself isn't directly aware of any of this -- his awareness of the absurd is subconscious at best; it 'colors' his actions. But Camus's basic point remains: the only real things are those that we experience physically. Thus, Meursault kills the Arab because of his response to the glaring sun, which beats down upon him as he moves toward his 'adversary' on the beach. The death of the Arab isn't particularly meaningful in itself: it's merely something else that 'happens' to Meursault. The significance of this episode is that it forces Meursault to reflect upon his life (and its meaning) as he contemplates his impending execution. Only by being tried and sentenced to death is Meursault forced to acknowledge his own mortality and the responsibility he has for his own life. Existentialism is a philosophical movement which claims that individual human beings create the meanings of their own lives. ... Absurdism is a philosophy stating that the efforts of humanity to find meaning in the universe will ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists, at least in relation to humanity. ...


Another theme is that we make our own destiny, and we, not God, are responsible for our actions and their consequences (non-determinism). Non-determinism is a philosophical view that not every event happening in the Universe is causally determined. ...


Truth is another motif of the book. Meursault, despite being judged by many of his contemporaries as immoral or amoral, is consistently honest and direct. In his unyielding candor, he never displays emotions that he does not feel. Neither does he participate in social conventions calling for dishonesty. Although grief is considered the socially acceptable or "normal" response, Meursault does not exhibit grief at his mother's funeral. This incorruptible honesty takes on a naïve dimension when he goes through the trial process; he questions the need for a lawyer, claiming that the truth should speak for itself. Much of the second half of the book involves this theme of the imperfection of justice. It is Meursault's adherence to the literal truth that proves his undoing—a public official compiling the details of the case tells Meursault he will be saved if he repents and turns to Christianity, but Meursault is truthful to his atheism and refuses to pretend he has found religion. More generally, Meursault's honesty overrides his self-preservation instinct; he ultimately accepts punishment for his actions, and refuses to try evading justice.


As previously mentioned, a main theme is the absurd, and it is a theme that at times throughout the book seems to override the 'responsibility' aspect of the powerful ending. The ending seems to reflect that Meursault is in fact satisfied with his demise, to the extent that one can be satisfied with death, while also of course being terrified, whereas the erstwhile sensory observations, which were mostly stand-alone and, if they did impact him, did so in terms of something physical (e.g. "I became tired"), become very relevant to his self and being. It seems that, in facing death, he's found the first true feeling and revelation and happiness. But even that revelation was in the "gentle indifference of the world". A central contributor to this theme was that of the pause after he shot the Arab for the first time. In one key moment, while being interviewed by the magistrate, he mentions how it did not matter that he waited and then shot four more times. Speaking objectively, in terms of tangible results, there was no difference: the Arab died at one shot, and four more shots meant four more pieces of lead in a then entirely effete human carcass to Meursault but, as he would claim, to the world in general. This is seen also in his reflection on the absurdity of humanity creating a justice system to impose such meaningful actions as "death" upon a human: "The fact that the [death] sentence had been read at eight o'clock at night and not at five o'clock... the fact that it had been handed down in the name of some vague notion called the French (or German, or Chinese) people--all of it seemed to detract from the seriousness of the decision".


In writing the novel Camus was influenced by other existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger. Camus and Sartre in particular had been involved in the French resistance during World War II and were friends until ultimately differing on their philosophical stances. Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (June 21, 1905 – April 15, 1980), normally known simply as Jean-Paul Sartre (pronounced: ), was a French existentialist philosopher and pioneer, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist and critic. ... Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) (pronounced ) was a highly influential German philosopher. ...


Ultimately, Camus presents the world as essentially meaningless and therefore, the only way to arrive at any meaning or purpose is to make it oneself. Thus it is the individual and not the act that gives meaning to any given context. Camus deals with this issue, as well as man's relationship to man and issues such as suicide in his other works such as A Happy Death and The Plague, as well as his non-fiction works such as The Rebel and The Myth of Sisyphus. In many ways this work can be seen as a first sketch for Camuss renowned early novel, The Outsider, but it can also be viewed as a candid self-portrait, drawing on Camuss memories of his youth, travels and early relationships. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Sisyphus by Titian, 1549 The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. ...


English Translations

The original French language novel was first published by Libraire Gallimard in Paris in 1942. In 1946, it was first translated into English by British author Stuart Gilbert and this translation was read by millions for over four decades. A second English translation was published in 1982 by British publishing house Hamish Hamilton. This translation, by Joseph Laredo, was adopted by Penguin Books in 1983 and reprinted for Penguin Classics in 2000. In 1989, a new English translation by American Matthew Ward was published.[2] Éditions Gallimard is the second most important French publisher, and probably the most respected. ... City flag City coat of arms Motto: Fluctuat nec mergitur (Latin: Tossed by the waves, she does not sink) The Eiffel Tower in Paris, as seen from the esplanade du Trocadéro. ... Year 1946 (MCMXLVI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full 1946 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Look up translate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Stuart Gilbert (1883 – 1969) was an English literary scholar and translator. ... The Hamish Hamilton logo Hamish Hamilton is a British book publisher, founded eponymously by the half-Scot half-American Jamie Hamilton (Hamish is the Celtic form). ... It has been suggested that Penguin Modern Poets, Penguin Great Ideas be merged into this article or section. ... Year 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays 1989 Gregorian calendar). ... Matthew Ward (1951- 1990) was an American English/French translator noted for his 1989 rendition of Albert Camus The Stranger. ...


The tone of the three English translations is quite different, with the Gilbert translation exhibiting a more formal tone. An example of this difference can be found in the first sentence of the first chapter:

  • Original French: "Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas. J'ai reçu un télégramme de l'asile: Mère décédée. Enterrement demain. Sentiments distingués. Cela ne veut rien dire. C'était peut-être hier"
  • Gilbert translation: "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. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday."
  • Ward translation: "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours. That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday."

("Maman" is an informal French term translating to "Mom" or "Mommy".)

  • Laredo translation: "Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. I had a telegram from the home: 'Mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Yours sincerely.' That doesn't mean anything. It may have been yesterday."

Translation of the title

Étranger in French has several meanings. One is "foreign," as in exterior to one's country, while another is used to signify a generic person who is unknown to you, similar to "stranger." It could be argued that the title would be better translated as The Foreigner, as the main character is a foreigner, which would be fitting in the context that Meursault was a man of French origins living in Algeria. However, knowing Camus's position in regard to Algeria, it may not mean "foreigner" because the character Meursault is a pied-noir, probably with several generations of family living in Algeria before him. Camus was known to advocate that pieds-noirs were as much citizens of Algeria as the Algerian population. Pied-noir is a term for the former French colonists of North Africa, especially Algeria. ...


Another translation of Étranger that could be used is an outsider. This would suit Meursault because he seems to feel that he is not the same as everyone else.


Alternatively, "Foreigner" may appropriately describe Meursault in regards to his separation from the social norms of society. While not being conscious of the motifs he portrays, he lives his life existentially, without being encumbered by meaning exterior to his own experience, a trait that would make him seem "foreign" to his contemporaries.


References in popular culture

  • In cinema, the novel was adapted to Lo Straniero (1967), directed by Luchino Visconti, and Yazgi (2001), directed by Zeki Demirkubuz.
  • Comic book author Steve Gerber cites Camus, and in particular, The Stranger, as his principal influence, particularly on Howard the Duck (1974-1978)--"Howard is Mersault with a sense of humor, an existentialist who screams and quacks as a hedge against sinking into utter despair."[3] Gerber also depicted Shanna the She-Devil reading the novel in her treehouse.
  • In popular music, it inspired songs by several artists, such as Blur, The Cure, Aria, and Tuxedomoon.
  • In Talladega Nights, Will Farrel's nemesis, a French driver, is seen reading a copy of The Stranger in French.

The Stranger (Lo Straniero in its original Italian) is a 1967 movie by Italian director Luchino Visconti, based on Albert Camus novel LÉtranger, with Marcello Mastroianni. ... 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar (the link is to a full 1967 calendar). ... Luchino Visconti. ... Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... Zeki Demirkubuz (born October 1, 1964 in Isparta, Turkey) is a contemporary Turkish film director, screenwriter and producer. ... Stephen Ross Gerber (born 20 September 1947, St. ... This article is about the character. ... Shanna the She-Devil is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. ... Blur are an English rock band formed in Colchester in 1989. ... The Cure are an English rock band that formed in Crawley, Sussex in 1976. ... For any other meanings of this word, see Aria (disambiguation). ... Tuxedomoon is an experimental avant-garde post-punk New Wave group formed in San Francisco, California in 1977 by Blaine L. Reininger and Steven Brown, two students of electronic music at San Francisco City College. ... Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby also known as High, Wide, and Handsome (2006) is a film comedy about NASCAR racing that is currently in production. ...

References

  1. ^ Camus, Albert. The Stranger, Matthew Ward translation, 1989.
  2. ^ Classic French Novel Is 'Americanized' By Herbert Mitgang, The New York Times, April 18, 1988, retrieved September 9, 2006
  3. ^ Steve Gerber: An Absurd Journey, Darren Schroeder, Silver Bullet Comic Books interview.

is the 108th day of the year (109th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar). ... is the 252nd day of the year (253rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays full 2006 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Darren Schroeder at the Funtime Comics Midwinter Comics Retreat, 2006 Darren Schroeders mini comic Mopy #14 published in 2006 Darren Phillip Schroeder (born on August 27, 1967 in Christchurch, New Zealand) is a Small Press editor, critic, stand up comedian, and comics creator. ...

See also

Absurdism is a philosophy stating that the efforts of humanity to find meaning in the universe will ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists, at least in relation to humanity. ...

External links

  • Thesis statements and important quotes from The Stranger

  Results from FactBites:
 
The Stranger (novel) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1392 words)
The Stranger, or The Outsider, (from the French L’Étranger, 1942) is a novel by Albert Camus.
The novel tells the story of an alienated man, who eventually commits a murder and waits to be executed for it.
Usually classed as an existential novel, The Stranger is indeed based on Camus' theory of the absurd.
The Stranger - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (196 words)
The Stranger (newspaper), an alternative weekly newspaper in Seattle, Washington
Stranger (comics), a mysterious cosmic being who has appeared in numerous issues published by Marvel Comics
The Stranger (When a Stranger Calls), the villain from When a Stranger Calls franchise.
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