97 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book, pity about some of its readers...
I have never felt the need to comment on reviews posted by others on this site, but I feel that Ted Rushton's review of The Stranger is a disgrace and I am amazed that Amazon have seen fit to publish his offensive and ill-informed half-witted drivel. Anyone who can use the moronic term "surrender monkeys" in a review of a book should confine themselves to the latest...
Published on 9 July 2004 by MR P FITTON
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and puzzling
"The Stranger" is a deep yet odd sort of novel.
For a start, the main plotline does not really establish itself until halfway through. The first half of the novel builds up the character of Meursault, an individual who is disconnected and removed from the way that society functions. He is an amiable, friendly and rather too honest man. His personality traits...
Published on 17 Feb. 2012 by Lauren G
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97 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book, pity about some of its readers...,
I have never felt the need to comment on reviews posted by others on this site, but I feel that Ted Rushton's review of The Stranger is a disgrace and I am amazed that Amazon have seen fit to publish his offensive and ill-informed half-witted drivel. Anyone who can use the moronic term "surrender monkeys" in a review of a book should confine themselves to the latest piece of trash by Frederick Forsyth and steer clear of authors of the calibre of Camus, whose ideas are clearly beyond him.
Even if Mersault could be seen as exemplifying the attitudes of the French people - and he clearly exemplifies nothing of the sort - Mr Rushton's anti-French tirade crumbles when you consider some facts he omits to mention. Firstly, Camus himself was active in the resistance during the war and also edited, at considerable risk, the clandestine journal Combat. Secondly Camus' The Plague is an allegory of occupation and resistance and, despite Mr Rushton's assertions to the contrary, exhibits considerable moral bravery. Then he should consider Sartre's Roads to Freedom trilogy, three books which concern themselves unflinchingly with issues of engagement, commitment and resistance.
In any case what philosophy could be more brave than existentialism, a philosophy that rejects the safety net of God and all other transcendental metaphysical fairy tales and insists that man is morally responsible for his own actions and the consequences thereof?
And by the way, as an Englishman who has travelled in France I can assure Mr R that the French do not hate the English and we - apart from a few tabliod reading idiots - do not hate them either.
The Stranger itself is one of the great books of the 20th Century: a masterful study of a man who refuses to conform to the false values and hypocrisy of mass self-assured organised society and ultimately pays the consequences for his bravery in refusing to "fit in". The court room scene is one of the finest pieces of writing you will ever come across, and the book as a whole is beautifully written, intensely moving, and ultimately uplifting.
Buy the book and ignore Mr Rushton's vile "review"
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "In the absence of hope we must struggle to survive, and so we do- by the skin of our teeth.",
The whole book has a surreal and eerie undertone to it. One can clearly see Camus's theory of Absurdism between each line. The story world is described beautifully and vividly. The language is concise yet encompassing.
Gripping from start to end. It will change how think you think about your life.
35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An existentialist tour de force of literature,
The Stranger is a haunting, challenging masterpiece of literature. While it is fiction, it actually manages to express the complex concepts and themes of existential philosophy better than the movement's most noted philosophical writings and almost as well as Dostoyevsky's Notes From the Underground. This is a new kind of literature. The story in and of itself is rather simple, but the glimpses into the intellect and feelings of the protagonist are the sources of the magic of this novel. M.Meursault is a normal man in Algiers, France. When we meet him, he is on the way to his mother's funeral, where he says very little, expresses no remorse over her death, and immediately returns home. The next day, he goes swimming, meets Marie, takes her to see a comedy that night, and spends the next few weeks living his normal life and occassionally seeing Marie. He ends up getting indirectly involved in a dispute between his neighbor Raymond and a girl who did him wrong, and the conflict culminates in an encounter on the beach between Raymond, Meursault, and the girl's Arab brother and friend. Raymond is cut with a knife, but the whole episode seems to be resolved. Meursault, though, decides later to take another walk on the beach because he is too worn out to go inside and rejoin his friends, and somewhat inexplicably he ends up killing one of the Arabs. The second half of the novel examines Meursault's thoughts in relation to his trial and sentence; interestingly, he is prosecuted as much if not more for his moral character than for the crime of murder itself.
Basically, Meursault does not care about anything, does not feel anything for anyone (including himself, for the most part). He looks at life objectively and determines that it really doesn't matter whether he does something or not in the overall scheme of things. When Marie expresses her love for him, he tells her he will marry her if it will make her happy but that he cannot say he really loves her. He expresses no remorse for killing the Arab because it just happened; he had no intention of doing it, but the fact is that he did, so there's little point in dwelling on it. He cares about the present and, to a lesser degree, the future, but the past is meaningless for the very reason that it is the past. Meursault sees things as they are; rather than rely on flights of fantasy and imagination (the typical tools of the Romanticists), he deals with facts in the here and now rather than run from them and has no problem admitting the seemingly obvious fact that man is a creature of utter depravity. He rejects religion; since each man must eventually die, what does it matter what he does while on earth. It is a man's hopes and dreams that weigh down his very existence; Marsault can only find happiness by cleansing himself of all such illusory notions.
Needless to say, this is not an uplifting book, but it is an engaging, thought-provoking one. While Camus cannot be called a true existentialist in his own philosophical outlook, his fiction does epitomize many existentialist ideas. Marsault is a protagonist like no other in literature--you cannot like him, he is obviously guilty of killing a man in cold blood, and he is of a cold-hearted nature, yet you do understand some of his thinking, find yourself more and more interested in his dark outlook on life, and have to admit that much of what he believes makes sense.
5.0 out of 5 stars The defiance of the outsider,
In his introduction to 'Betwixt and Between', Albert Camus admits that the memory of a world of poverty and light, has saved him from two dangerous threats for any artist, one of resentment and one of self-satisfaction.
As in his novel 'A Happy Death ', the themes here are in fact poverty and light (the sun), but also the antagonisms happiness / unhappiness and life / death. However, Albert Camus’s vision on these themes is completely different in the two books.
The sun and poverty
While in 'A Happy Death ' the sun (light) is an element of vitality and happiness, in ‘The Stranger’ it provokes only doom and death. The brightness of the sun makes Meursault (meurt seul?) only inhuman and depressed. When an Arab draws a knife, the sun makes it a long glittering blade. In both books there is a murder, but here it is caused simply by the sun.
As the author explained in his moving autobiographical novel ‘The First Man’, as an adolescent he stood at a crossroad: fight (to be a master) or succumb (to be a victim). He had to choose between a dreadful life as a clerk in a small shop or continue to go to school. The last option was a real uphill Sisyphus struggle because his family was very poor. 'The Stranger ' is an illustration of one of these two options: Meursault refuses to fight and abandons his studies. He lost confidence in life: it is not worth a fight and it doesn’t matter if one dies at the age of thirty or seventy.
In 'The Myth of Sisyphus' Albert Camus exhorts his readers to live in the face of absurdity, which for him is nothing else than a world in which man is his own and only master. But, for Meursault, an absurd world causes only indifference. Throughout his absurd life a kind of obscure breath equalized everything that he saw around him: people dying, the love of a mother, God, fate, the choices people made. He sees also the world around him as dominated by the concept of God. But, for him, those who believe in God are living as if they were dead.
Meursault knows all too well that his worldview is not shared or appreciated by the vast majority of his fellowmen, although he himself is absolutely sure that he is right. Cynically, he wishes that there will be a lot of spectators at his execution and that they will howl cries of hatred at him.
Written while the world was in flames, Albert Camus expressed in a most authentic manner one of the two choices available for every human being in the face of his ‘absurd’ destiny.
This book is a formidable masterpiece.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and puzzling,
"The Stranger" is a deep yet odd sort of novel.
For a start, the main plotline does not really establish itself until halfway through. The first half of the novel builds up the character of Meursault, an individual who is disconnected and removed from the way that society functions. He is an amiable, friendly and rather too honest man. His personality traits alienate him from the people he encounters whom expect grief, remorse and repentance. Meursault, in his existential mindset, doesn't see the point in expressing such emotions that he doesn't feel. Perhaps he is too logical to feel this or more likely, the futility of life prevents him from being obliged to feel anything (emotions are just, to him at least, pointless)
Camus' book is certainly interesting and Meursault's muses on how no other individual has the right to judge another and that we create our own understanding of our own reality. Existentialism has certain appealing aspects to it and is certainly right (in my opinion) about the subjectiveness of morality however I don't think existentialism was really well exhibited.
I don't think I really "understood" everything Camus was trying to suggest and I think the book might benefit from a second reading. However, I don't think I will be trying it again. I would like to read more about existentialism however I think I will read something that is less obscurely written and more clear in its intentions.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars what Camus himself said about The Stranger,
By A Customer
A lot of people are confused and have wrong notions about what The stranger is about, here's what Camus himself said about it, and is in my opinion the best explanation, "...the hero of the book is condemnd because he doesn't play the game. In this sense, he is an outsider to the society in which he lives...you must ask yourself in what way Meursault doesn't play the game. The answer is simple: he refuses to lie. Lying is not only saying what isn't true. It is also, in fact especially, saying more than is true and, in the case of the human heart, saying more than one feels. We all do it, everyday to make life simpler. But, contrary to appearences, Meursault doesn't wnat to make life simpler. He says what he is, he refuses to hide his feelings and society immediately feels threatened."
Albert Camus, January 8 1955
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and thought-provoking,
This review is from: The Stranger (Library Binding)
The Stranger is a haunting, challenging masterpiece of literature. While it is fiction, it manages to express the complex concepts and themes of existential philosophy better than the movement's most noted philosophical writings and almost as well as Dostoyevsky's Notes From the Underground. This is a new kind of literature. The story in and of itself is rather simple, but the insights into the intellect and feelings of the protagonist are the sources of the magic of this novel. The only author writing today who seems to have a similar style and subject matter that I have come across is Morton Bain.
5.0 out of 5 stars Here's to the reclamation of ourselves.,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Stranger (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) (Hardcover)
There is genius in this book. One must never forget why. If one does, one does die. To never confuse life with death. To never allow passing time to escape. To break forth into the world with every ounce of aspiration and energy, the only inspiration inside yourself. To know that you are alive at the very least. To know that "what dreams may come" are coming only today in these waking moments and never "in that sleep of death." That is all, and so it is TO BE. Why indeed I do love this book.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was very thought-provoking, raised interesting questions.,
By A Customer
When I first started reading it, or rather, more precisely, about 3 quarters of the way through it, I was somewhat puzzled, hoping that each new page I turned would reveal something that would point to the actual PURPOSE. I didn't think it was necessarily a BAD book, simply that i didn't see any real point to it. 'Why would anyone write a book like this?' i thought to myself. 'I mean this M. Meursault is just a comnpletely self-centered loser, indifferent to life itself.' By the last chapter, however, when he is thinking over his ever-looming beheadment, the writing and descriptions of the concept of life and death to an ordinary person with no real biases whatsoever, was so thought-proking and beautiful that i could've cried. After finishing it, however, i was still a little confused as to what the point was. About 3 days later, i was still thinking about it, mulling each chapter over in my head--a definite sign of a good book. (After all, even if one can read a book, give it a shallow label of "good", but never thinks about it again or probes it for meaning, how good was it?) Finally, (I think) I came to a conclusion: M. Meursault's thoughts as he was awaiting his execution finally resulted in a basic gist of "well, we all gotta die sometime, so really, no big deal." I think the contrasting, implied meaning that Camus was trying to bring out was, "yeah, we all gotta die sometime, THUS, it's not death--how it's carried out, or when it occurs--that's important, but rather, what you do on this earth in LIFE." I believe M. Meursault's last remark, "For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration", summed that very idea up well, indeed. It sort of leaves one (or at least ME) with an impression that M. Meursault has one last resolve to make something memorable and extraordinary out of his life, if it be only his execution; one last attempt at trying to live out the life he remained passive and indifferent toward during his time on earth.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original slacker...,
By A Customer
When I shut Camus' "The Stranger", my mind was hushed. It was a very odd book that made me think. Unsure of the books meaning, I read some of the reveiws here, and, slowly, and opinion began to form in my mind. First off, Mersault, the narrator, is the most passive, static symbol I've ever encountered in literature. The nearest analog would be Billy Pilgrim from Vonnegut's "Slaughter House Five", I suppose, but Mersault is a different animal all together. His entire world is bloodless, and, using modern brain theory, left hemispheric; lineal, rational. Yet, it is this very bloodless existance that Camus is objecting to, at least in my reading of the novel. Mersault is a slacker, neither good nor bad. He is simply there. Sure, he's intelligent, but he's got no insight. He's caught in a reality beyond his control, a material reality that never changes. He's pleasent, interested in others, but unemotional and detatched. The only thing he responds to are changes in his material organism; heat, low blood sugar. That sort of thing. In a way, Mersault is no different from the other characters in the novel caught in life's games. The judge and lawyers, society at large, all seem to condem him, as easily as they'd have accepted him if there hadn't been a murder. Mersault's main problem is that he does not move a finger to change his life. Like a pure Aristotle, filled with cold scientific detatchment, he simply observes, never interfering with a reality that has become a lifeless, bloodless, material trap. Even though he sees the lawyers playing a game with his life that could result in his death, he does nothing to stop it. We, who've seen the murder through his eyes, understand that Mersault felt treatened by the Arab and his knife. We know he did not pre-meditate the murder. Yet he murdered. He did it coldly, but not in cold blood. Yet he doesn't make a move, becomes a pawn in a pointless 'game' between the self-righteous magistrate and the less talented defender. The question that troubled me time and time again, and probably everyone else who's read the book, is why? Why not take an impassioned stand? Why not inveigh against the absurdity of reality, why not fight for life? Why be happy to be imprisoned in society's little game of good versus evil? Why would Mersault not feel sad during his mother's funeral? Mersault simply allows life to work on him, observes what he sees coldly and accurately. His observations about the foolishness of the law, the fact that even the most self-important 'doormen' in this life are still inmates, all ring true. He notices how opposites fit together, yet depend on the other for their existance; Salmano and his dog; the magistrate and the defense; good and bad. Remeber how dejected Salamano felt after his dog, the cur he'd despised, was lost...This strange, dialectic stasis holds the world together. In some way, since Mersault is neutral, he is beyond it all, yet, like all men, is caught in its web. In the end, he becomes serious about the game, and secretly hopes that his execution will be attended by a crowd of spectators, howling in execration. In effect, what I feel Camus is trying to do in the "Stranger" is much more involved than the reading most others here have given the book. He's giving us a symbol of the limits of rational, Aristotilean thought. Pure science has given us the bomb, turned humans into machines. It has made western man maybe a little more intelligent than the animalistic Raymond, but at the expense of depriving him of a reality deeply alive, awash in blood and emotion. Our intelligence has made us robots, unable to see the face of God in the stones that imprison us, which the preist, probably the only truly passionate and sympathetic character in the book, hopes that the listless Mersault, the most modern of men, could see.
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The Stranger by Stuart Gilbert (Paperback - 1 Sept. 1954)
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