Book Review: The Stranger by Albert Camus

I actually read this book in July (2011), so this is already a very late review. I didn’t know how to review it then. This is already the second time that I’ve read this. It’s not that I love it. I’m not even sure if I like it. For some reason, I failed to appreciate it. So I don’t understand why many people consider it to be a classic.

But it’s a profound book, I think. The story is very interesting, from my point of view as a Christian.

It’s an existentialist novel. The main character is Meursault. He sees life as basically absurd. The novel opens with the news of his mother’s death. But for him, it doesn’t really mean anything. He has a significant other, Marie, and apparently she loves him. She even asks him if he’d want to marry her. But he says that it doesn’t really make any difference!

I find the story very interesting because Meursault is an atheist. I think that’s significant because your beliefs or worldview really has an influence on how you interpret the things around you. I think Meursault is just being honest. That’s just the logical outworking of atheism, I think. If God does not exist, life is basically absurd. Life has no ultimate meaning, value and purpose, because everything ends at the grave. It wouldn’t matter if you lived a saintly life or a sinful one, because there’s no life beyond the grave and hence no accountability.

Therefore, for Meursault, there’s no meaning to his mother’s death, and there’s no difference between his marrying Marie or not. It seems that there’s really no such thing as “love” in an atheistic universe. There are only feelings, impulses and desires, all of which are unpredictable and temporary.

I like Marie. She’s very lovable; she’s very carefree and simple. It’s just very unfortunate that he meets a man like Meursault.

I am moved by the scene where Salamano cries for his lost old friend, his dog.

I didn’t like the priest character very much. He had a chance of consoling Meursault, of listening to him, understanding him, and even talking about the Christian faith with him and how it is absolutely relevant to his life, but he didn’t know how to handle the conversation with him. His character is not even believable, because a priest would know about theology and would know how to talk about the issue of God’s existence.

I think Meursault is wrong in thinking that God does not exist, and it’s unfortunate that in the novel he did not pursue that issue further. Perhaps he did not think it was an important issue in the first place. But the implications of God’s non-existence are very serious.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
Date Read: June 28 – July 13, 2011

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Stranger by Albert Camus

  1. Brilliant review, bai! But I rated this book 5 stars because I thought that it was an ingenious depiction of Absurdism by Albert Camus; I thought how he was about to illustrate the idiosyncratic man mired in an absurd existence. And I would like to add that the priest’s seemingly off approach is absolutely necessary to give way for Meursault’s catharsis, which I find, paradoxically, very absurd considering his the character development from the start—truly, the confrontation with the priest brings the culmination of the novel for me, it was my favorite part.

    I’ve read this book only once, and I have been finding time to read it again. And again, payter nga review! \m/

    1. *I thought how he was about to illustrate the idiosyncratic man mired in an absurd existence *must be a mind-fucking task considering Camus was giving birth to his brand Absurdism through that book. Nevertheless, he pulled it off quite plausibly, if not with pure genius.

  2. Hi!

    Sorry for the late reply.

    Interesting observations. Thank you for your comments. It’s nice to find a fellow Bisaya here in WordPress. 😀

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