The Stranger by Albert Camus

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The existentialist philosopher Albert Camus wrote The Stranger when he was twenty-six years old. When it was published, the novel was soon a huge success. It laid the foundation for Camus’ renowned writing career.

Within a few years of its publication, The Stranger had received widespread acclaim in the literary world. Reviewing the novel, critic Marcel Arland concludes, “We recognize… in The Stranger: a genuine writer.” Another critic, Henri Hell, wrote, “With The Stranger, Camus ranks at the apex of the contemporary novel.” In his book Writing Degree Zero, Roland Barthes credits The Stranger as creating a revolutionary “transparent form of speech” that would change our understanding of literature and even of reality.”

The story describes Meursault’s wrongful conviction. However, unlike in a typical miscarriage of justice, this protagonist is not completely innocent, nor has he been framed. In fact, he expresses his guilt and openly admits to the murder. Nonetheless, others at the scene of the crime are well aware of the fact that he committed this offence in a state of confusion. As this case unfolds, the judicial process becomes increasingly complex, and the trial lasts almost a year. Ultimately, in Meursault’s case, the verdict passed is that there is nothing human about him and his crime was premeditated.

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