The Stranger | Albert Camus

  • The Stranger © 1946
  • Translator: Stuart Gilbert
  • Vintage: Random House
  • 155 pages

Have you ever dreamed that you committed murder only to awake in a panic about the consequences? The Stranger is a short, simple, and strangely disturbing philosophical novel of casual murder and its consequences. I mentioned dreaming because as you read the work, you almost get the impression that the main character is dreaming his way through his life and crime. It feels too casual to be real.

This novel gripped me in a couple different ways:

  1. The apathy and lack of engagement in life on the part of the protagonist echoes the way we live life on the surface today. Camus nailed that attitude over 60 years ago.
  2. The protagonist’s atheism, especially as it clashed with the prison chaplain’s worldview, forces the reader to contemplate death and the afterlife. I found it profound that a clash with religion (even to reject it) was the major cathartic moment in the killer’s life.

This novel deserves its fame. If you want to reflect on life as you live it, The Stranger will get the gears spinning.

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