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The Outsider Unknown Binding – 1946

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (1946)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001O2LR00
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,768,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. His childhood was poor, although not unhappy. He studied philosophy at the University of Algiers, and became a journalist as well as organizing the Théâtre de l'équipe, a young avant-garde dramatic group.

His early essays were collected in L'Envers et l'endroit (The Wrong Side and the Right Side) and Noces (Nuptials). He went to Paris, where he worked on the newspaper Paris Soir before returning to Algeria. His play, Caligula, appeared in 1939. His first two important books, L'Etranger (The Outsider) and the long essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), were published when he returned to Paris.

After the occupation of France by the Germans in 1941, Camus became one of the intellectual leaders of the Resistance movement. He edited and contributed to the underground newspaper Combat, which he had helped to found. After the war he devoted himself to writing and established an international reputation with such books as La Peste (The Plague 1947), Les Justes (The Just 1949) and La Chute (The Fall; 1956). During the late 1950s Camus renewed his active interest in the theatre, writing and directing stage adaptations of William Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun and Dostoyevsky's The Possessed. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He was killed in a road accident in 1960.

His last novel, Le Premier Homme (The First Man), unfinished at the time of his death, appeared for the first time in 1994. An instant bestseller, the book received widespread critical acclaim, and has been translated and published in over thirty countries. Much of Camus's work is available in Penguin.

Sartre paid tribute to him in his obituary notice: 'Camus could never cease to be one of the principal forces in our cultural domain, nor to represent, in his own way, the history of France and of this century.'

(Image: Albert Camus in Oran. Private collection. Rights reserved.)

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Mother died today. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Andy Miller on 23 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
One of the very few books that I have ended up reading twice, I first came across The Outsider long ago in 1962 when I was 17 and have just revisited it recently with my reading group, extremely curious to know whether the strong impression it originally made upon me would be rekindled.

In the main, it was not. Coming to this novel in adolescence as one of the first `serious' books I had encountered, and just before the social upheavals of the 1960s began, I found the story and fate of Mersault, who could not or would not lie or express the standard emotions that were expected of him, quite shattering of the world in which I had grown up. Over the intervening decades, I carried a memory of Mersault as a noble hero and of the type of society that I had grown up in as a hypocritical conspiracy against the expression of honesty of feeling. As much or more than Kerouac, Ginsberg and Dylan, it was this book that made me a small town, coffee bar existentialist.

On re-reading at a different age and in a different era, I was struck by a number of impressions. Mersault appears less heroic and emptier of human warmth. He tacitly supports his neighbour, a pimp, in his violence towards his girlfriend and the novel hints more at his racism in the motiveless murder of an Algerian on the beach, around which the novel revolves. His patterns of thinking seem now far less idealistic and almost autistic in character.

However, the sense of place and especially the evocation of the heat, sun, sea, the streets of the town, the courtroom and his prison cell remain convincing and beautifully expressed in clear, clean prose.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
Although I read this in French, these comments may be useful.

Meursault is a young Algerian `pied-noir' given to observing the world with a clinical detachment. He enjoys a largely physical relationship with his girlfriend Marie who shares his love of swimming and, since Meursault does not judge others, he has an easy, tolerant acceptance of people, including his unsavoury neighbours the aged Salamano, dependent on the pathetic dog which he continually abuses, and the sadistic pimp Raymond.

From the outset there are somewhat chilling indicators of Meursault's unusual and amoral attitude to life. He renews his relationship with Marie and goes to see a comedy film with her the day after attending his mother's funeral. Then, on an afternoon of intense heat, in an almost hallucinatory state of mind, he commits a serious crime for which he appears to feel no remorse.

In the second part of the book largely given over to his very artificial, theatrical trial, we see how Meursault, the outsider, is incriminated as much for how he has behaved in the past - not weeping at his mother's funeral - as for his offence. As he begins to reflect on his situation, we see him in a more sympathetic light.

This famous novel which has attracted a huge amount of attention, may be read on different levels. It could just be the tale, written in clear, minimalist prose, of a man whose lack of 'normal' emotions and values, combined with extreme honesty, seal his fate. On another plane, it illustrates Camus's preoccupation with the absurdity of man's desire for reasons and 'rational behaviour' in a world without meaning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By technoguy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
In Camus's L'Etranger you have the absurd murder and you have the official murder,you have lived experience,and the official account of that experience,the inadequacy of language and the absurdity of the world.Meursault is the poor man stripped naked who lives in the present,for the here and now with intensity,immediacy, spontaneity, pleasure and happiness.He does not sacrifice the pleasures of today for an imaginary future or another world.The words `guilt' and `sin' mean nothing to him,the language of the court and the chaplain,the word `love' likewise is something he doesn't understand.He has a lucidity and awakening in the presence of the imposed sentence of the court,in the presence of death,that he is fundamentally happy.The murder he committed is understandable if not excusable,it happened by chance;but the judicial crime of execution is inexorable,put in place by social mechanisms that pay no heed to Meursault's feelings,that commit rational murder.It was human justice-for not crying at his mother's funeral-that had condemned him not divine justice.Mersault says he did wrong and was paying for it and there was nothing more that could be asked of him,he won't feel remorse nor guilt,nor believe in God.

The story's opener is one of the all time classic openers:"Maman died today,or maybe yesterday,I don't know".The climax of the novel is the best ever written:"The sea carried up a thick, fiery breath. It seemed to me as if the sky split open from one end to the other to rain down fire. My whole being tensed and I squeezed my hand around the revolver. The trigger gave; I felt the smooth underside of the butt; and there, in that noise, sharp and deafening at the same time, is where it all started. I shook off the sweat and sun.
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