The Outsider
The Outsider

The Stranger, The Outsider, (L'√Čtranger) (1942), by Albert Camus, is one of the most famous French novels of the twentieth century and is among the best literary expositions of the absurdity of human existence in an indifferent universe. Philosophically, it is an existential novel, despite Camus not considering himself an existentialist. The title character is Meursault, an alienated, anomic French man who kills a native Arab man in French Algiers. At his trial for murder, the prosecution describes him as a remorseless killer; he is convicted and awaits execution. In prison, Meursault accepts his fate, because it is his only true option; neither suicide, nor faith in God are options once he fully grasps the absurdity of the world in which he lives. Meursault realizes that Death is the permanent end and that the events and actions in one's life are only meaningful in the moment they are experienced. The story occurs in Algiers, before the Second World War, a locale from Camus's life.

In The Stranger, Albert Camus characterizes his justification of the absurd through the experiences of a protagonist who simply does not conform to the system. His inherent honesty disturbs the status quo; Meursault's inability to lie cannot seamlessly integrate him within society and in turn threatens the simple fabrics of human mannerisms expected of a structurally ordered society. Consequently, the punishment for his crime is not decided on the basis of murder, but rather for the startling indifference toward his mother's recent death. Even after a conflicting spiritual discussion with a pastor inciting Meursault to consider a possible path towards redemption, the latter still refuses to take upon salvation and symbolizes his ultimatum by embracing the "gentle indifference of the world"; an act which only furthers his solidarity with a society incapable of realizing his seemingly inhumane behavior

absurdism, Existentialism, nonconformity
Albert Camus
Hamish Hamilton Ltd

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