WEEK 9: “The Stranger” by Albert Camus

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Now, I read Camus’ “The Plague” when I was in grade school and loved it. “The Stranger” was just as rewarding of a read. I can’t explain how much I like Camus, and how he twists his readers around morally and socially. I never really planned on learning to speak French at any point in my life, but to have the ability to read his books in their original language I might reconsider. “The Stranger” was a little bit more elegant and subtle than “The Plague” but still displayed Camus’ usual philosophically prodding nature.

It was a strange story really, leaving the reader with a lot of loose ends. I found myself not really sure what to make of the narrator, because he is detached and logical in an inhuman sort of way, but seems relatively harmless most of the time. However, if he were truly relatively harmless the whole book wouldn’t revolve around his murder trial now would it?

Philosophers love to debate about this book and the intent Camus had in writing it. The existential nature of the novel makes it very open to interpretation and also very relatable. To be honest, I think it’s an important read for my generation. We tend to get caught up in “YOLO culture” which encourages a detachment from most human emotion. What Camus is bringing to the surface is this idea that what makes us human is our emotions…that is why it is so scary when we come across someone who doesn’t seem to have any kind of emotional attachments to anything or anyone.

A good read if you like philosophy and strange, unreliable narrators reminiscent of Nick Carraway. Definitely a fast read and very cerebral. Worth picking up if you’re looking to add a little odd-ness to your literary life.

Overall score: 6.5 – really a six, but gets a little boost because it is often considered a classic.

The New Yorker: Lost in Translation: What the First Line of ‘The Stranger’ Should Be

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