Book Review: The Stranger by Albert Camus

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Meursault narrates a portion of his life where he begins with the death of his mother and ends with his prosecution for murder. Between these events, Albert Camus focuses on “the nakedness of man when faced with the absurd.”

The book shows his actions and describes the reasoning of his actions with precision and clarity. The readers find themselves wondering why the narrator decided to do that or why he didn’t just say this, but Camus’ purpose wasn’t to show logical reasoning. He wanted to show the actions his narrator takes in a pinch. Not everything is black and white, right and wrong.

This book is known for its philosophical ideals and deep meaning, but it is anything but difficult to understand. Sure, it poses questions and causes readers to stop for a second, but it doesn’t have long drawn-out paragraphs about the meaning of life or the actions of man facing the abnormal. The only thing difficult to understand are the concepts, but the narrative itself is captivating without a full comprehension.

I enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons. It’s short, to the point. Like I said earlier, there isn’t sentences that last a couple pages, and I wasn’t walking around carrying a ten pound book. Camus knows what he wants to illustrate and does it. He knows the length the story needs to be to get his point across, and I like that he realized he can make a powerful impact without a jumble of words.

I also liked the writing style. It’s hard to explain how it reads, but I’ll try. He shows the actions of the narrator, Meursault, and the actions are explained in dialogue, but never in his mind. But the readers do get a glimpse into his mind. It’s like the reader is Meursault, not just accompanying him in a first-person view. An1\d since we are Meursault, he doesn’t go through all the explanations of his actions. He just does them. We read the conscious decisions he makes and sees the causes of those decisions, but the reader never really gets the why.

I think this strategy adds to the book. We can logically follow the cause and effect of his actions, but we can’t necessarily explain how it went from cause to event to effect. This is the point Camus made throughout the book. This is the “nakedness of man when faced with the absurd.” Camus filed down everything except for the raw actions and emotions in the narrator.

And the narrator is no average guy, either, but he is ordinary. He isn’t special or exceptional in any way. He’s run-of-the-mill and goes about his day in the slight trance everyone goes about their day with, never fully “awake.” By the same token, his emotions aren’t high strung, and he doesn’t have many cares. I guess the only difference that makes him a little difference is the level of trance he’s in. He goes through the motions in a robotic manner and doesn’t really have much opinions on anything but the things that directly affect him. This may be to highlight Camus’ themes of irrationality when faced with problems or meaninglessness of life.

I really did love the book, if for nothing else but its uniqueness. I’ve never read a book like this, and I don’t think any book could highlight these same themes while staying interesting and easy to read.

4.5 Stars

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Stranger by Albert Camus

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