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Elegantly styled, Camus' profoundly disturbing novel of a Parisian lawyer's confessions is a searing study of modern amorality. Born in Algeria in 1913, Albert Camus published The Stranger-- now one of the most widely read novels of this century-- in 1942. Celebrated in intellectual circles, Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.Learn More
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SummaryElegantly styled, Camus' profoundly disturbing novel of a Parisian lawyer's confessions is a searing study of modern amorality. Born in Algeria in 1913, Albert Camus published The Stranger-- now one of the most widely read novels of this century-- in 1942. Celebrated in intellectual circles, Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.
This strange little book is a 3-hour monologue, addressed by a Parisian lawyer to a stranger he met in a bar in Amsterdam, where he is now living. He's very fond of gin. He was successful in his previous career and took pride in his generosity.
Then something happened. He's a little coy about it; he takes his time leading up to it. One night he heard a woman jump to her death from a bridge over the Seine. He did nothing to help her; and since then his life has gone to hell. He eventually gave up lawyering and became what he calls a “judge penitent” (though I have to admit I'm still not sure what he means by that). He has tried in a variety of ways to destroy the good opinion others have formed of him. (With his tales of sexual conquest and manipulation, he certainly does his best to lose the good opinion of the reader.)
He is terrified of Freedom. God is no longer master, he says, but nothing else has come along yet to take his place. He considers the possibility of surrendering himself as an intellectual slave to something — anything — to escape the demands of freedom.
The problem I have with this is the same problem I've had with other novels by Camus that I've read. It's easy to grasp the surface action, and even be moved by it; but it's hard, at least for me, to penetrate the deeper meaning. I have the sense that much of his fiction is allegorical, but what it's supposed to mean — apart from the obvious struggles his characters have with morality and meaninglessness — seems always just out of reach.
Eduardo Ballerini does an effective job narrating the book.
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