The Stranger by Alber Camus - Book review

on Monday, April 4, 2011
A short read and one that is quiet thought provoking , Albert Camus famous philosophical novel L'Etranger, or The Stranger , is worth every moment. The text is extremely sensory in nature , unexpectedly concise in something similar to Hemingway's prose though infinitely more abstracted and confused in some senses. Much of this is likely due to the immense confusion of the protagnist , the Algerian Meursault , as he navigates a society in which he is an outsider. Meursault is an extremely eccentric and unique character , and it is for this reason that the entire novel is really a battle faught on two fronts - with a leader trying to nail down Meursault's actual personality , and also trying to figure out whether empathy is the cause or the cure of problems contained within the narrative. Meursault is a nihilist , however one that stands for ambiguous "something" of his own determination - lending his character an intense dignity despite his cold and aloof exterior. It is this wholesale honesty of character , of simple integrity that lends the only sympathetic note to an overtly self conscious and somewhat dull character. However, it is due to this self consciousness and heightened awareness of his own existence in a larger contextual framework that marks the strong existentialist streak running throughout the novel. The judgement of others upon the individual is of central importance throughout The Stranger, and is Meursault's oblivious misunderstanding of the situations that surround him. He is constantly being judged and scrutinised - winning friends with his honesty and integrity ( even the tragic figure of Marie , a woman who admires Meursault for his strength and yet never received the benefit of his love). The Stranger by Albert Camus is a character study that not only offers us the vision of the man but a very accurate portrait of general society as it expects to receive us- as servants to a certain code of empathy , sympathy , and appearances whether our heart or our belief , lies within it or no.

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