The Stranger (The Outsider) is a French novel is about a man who is a part of a society and yet an outsider or a stranger to it. Albert Camus aims to bring some serious questions to the table through this novel. It seeks to force the reader to think about specific issues for a very long time after finishing it. Society, religion, justice, morality, are some of the sensitive topics the author touches through this novel.
The book, published under 2 titles- The Stranger and The Outsider is about a French man Meursault. It is set in the times of French colonization. The story revolves around his simple life and his unconventional and ruthless behavior towards it. The book starts with him being informed about his old mother’s death and ends with him being subjected to an unsettling court trial.
Albert Camus gives Meursault the pen to write the story in his words. The writing style is thus simple, direct, unemotional with an informative sensory touch, just like the character narrating it. This connects the readers with Meursault in a more profound way. You will find yourself involved in his life and experience his tribulations more than you expected. The writing of the book is, therefore, one of its strongest points, more than the story itself, which is a little weak in some parts.
The book is divided into two parts- the before and after that precede and follow the central incident in the story. It is a short book, merely 120 pages, which you can quickly finish in one sitting. The book has been translated thrice in English by Stuart Gilbert, Joseph Laredo and Matthew Ward. While Stuart Gilbert’s version is a classic, younger readers might prefer Matthew Ward’s version because of his smart replacement of old words with much simpler and modern ones.
- Simple, no-nonsense writing style
- Slightly boring story plot
- The apathetic nature of the protagonist might put some readers off
For all its shortcomings, this book deserves nothing less than 3 stars. The Stranger/The Outsider is not the book that you will want to go back to again. But it is worth a read for its introspective, informative and robust messaging.