The Stranger

by Albert Camusstranger

In my tenth grade English class, we spent a whole unit talking about existentialism. At the time we were reading Death of a Salesman. Somewhere I still have all my notes from the unit – which, theoretically, means that somewhere in my brain I also have a great answer to the question: What on earth is existentialism?

The Stranger has been on my reading list since 2005, when the Romgi’s cousin (whom I only met once) told me it was his favorite book. I quite honestly had no idea what it was about or what to expect, so I was a little surprised when I finally sat down with it and found the narration excessively easy to follow and enjoyable to read. After I finished the book I tried describing it to the Romgi, but the whole thing felt more like a weird dream that was so vague it couldn’t be put into words. Weird for a book, right? It is words…

The protagonist is really one of the most existential characters you could imagine. He talks very seldom (or not at all?) about his emotions – rather, his descriptions are of tangible sensations. His existence is entirely physical. By the end I felt like I was suffering in the heat and it was making me confused.

This may be going out on a limb, but I think The Stranger would be a great book club book. I’d love to discuss it with you. Have you read it? If not, will you so we can talk about it?

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2 Comments on “The Stranger”

  1. jessica says:

    mika, i read this book in french for a french class and when i was done i felt so uncomfortable and out of my own skin. i tried to read it again in english but it was just too weird. i couldn’t do it. for a while, i started thinking like the guy in the book! thankfully, i snapped out of it. but you know, when i read something my mind kind of absorbs it so i think like the author writes for a while. sometimes, it’s annoying.

  2. kendy says:

    Wow, I’m surprised. We read this book in my senior English class and I really didn’t like it. I definitely agree with the dream-like aspect you described, and with Jessica’s description of how it gets into your head. Mostly I found it was just really depressing. That’s probably because existentialism IS really depressing; the point is mainly that there is no point. Dad and I talked about how the contrast between the light of the gospel and the greyness of this book was so clear. In class we read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness right after that, and it was even worse. At some point I voiced my opinion that most of these people just needed some serious therapy and psych meds. Lots of “classic” literature would probably not have been written, or at least have been very different, if people hadn’t been so depressed.


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