TITLE: The Stranger/L'Étranger
AUTHOR: Albert Camus
PUBLISHED: 1942 (France); 1946 (English translation)
PUBLISHER: Hamish Hamilton Limited
Quote: "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know."
Overview: Meursault lives in French Algiers in the 1940s, working as a shipping clerk. He is ordinary in most respects, albeit disconnected and unemotional towards all those around him. When he learns of his mother's death and subsequently attends the funeral, he again displays his lack of emotion and his inability to connect or empathize with anyone. Meursault continues to go on with his life afterwards, hanging at the beach with his girlfriend and drinking with his friends.
Violence ensues one day at the beach. Violence of which there is no good explanation. Meursault's actions and later response to his actions perfectly depict the character that has been forming throughout the story. His detachment from all things bring him to a conclusion that many, along with the author of the book, believe to be the truth of our existence.
Analysis: Albert Camus instills his philosophical teachings and beliefs in his indifferent main character. This quick read was part novel and part exercise in philosophy. Regardless of your beliefs, this book will force you to think about your own purpose, your life and maybe the meaning of your existence in this world and in relation to those surrounding you.
The story was quick, the ideas were big and the characters were an interesting bunch that reminded me of a mix between Hemingway's Lost Generation and Kerouac's Beats. This is a book I would recommend everyone to read. Take a day or a weekend and delve into the mind of Albert Camus. Camus writes in another of his books, The Myth of Sisyphus, "There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide." Once we decide whether or not to live, then all of the other questions that philosophy poses can come into play. The Stranger, through Meursault, takes a look at life and asks one simple questions: Why?
Conclusion: Regardless of your background in philosophy, read this timeless book.