Title: The Stranger

Author: Albert Camus

Original language: French

Translation(s): 45 languages

Context: The Stranger (1942) is a translated novel by Albert Camus, the French author. The author explores as termed by him, ‘the nakedness of man confronted with the absurd’, through the tale of a simple man who is drawn into a needless murder on a beach in Algeria. Outlook and theme of the novel are frequently noted as examples of the author’s bizarre intentions and philosophy paired with existentialism.

Synopsis: A Frenchman named Meursault, living in Algiers is the main character of the novel, The Stranger. The very first lines of the novel ‘Mother died today. Or maybe it was yesterday, I don’t know’ have given this novel its popularity.

The lack of unusual ethical or social standards of Meursault, in a group or individual has been intelligently and briefly captured by these lines. Meursault narrates in first person to Marengo where he vigilantly seats himself at the place where his mother has passed away. Meursault does not display any signs of distress of grief, though he sees the atmosphere filled with sorrow around him. All through the romantic and platonic relationships of Meursault, this particular withdrawn and disconnected nature has been presented.

Meursault’s disreputable friend named Raymond is arrested by the police for attacking his mistress. He wants Meursault to vouch to the police for him to which the emotionless Meursault agrees. Raymond comes across a group of men including the brother (referred to as – the Arab). Raymond attacks the man over and over again after which the Arab strikes Raymond with a knife. In the encounter, Meursault shoots the brother dead, stating that it happened because he got flustered and blinded by the brightness of the sun reflecting on the Arab’s knife and also the terrible heat. The two sections of the tale are separated by this murder.

In the second section, Meursault undergoes a trial and questions focusing mainly on the Arab’s murder and his insensitivity at the funeral of his mother all of which works against him. ‘Monsieur Antichrist’ is the nickname awarded to him by the magistrate. Eventually he is sentenced to death by guillotine. A chaplain visits him and helps him to accept death peacefully with open arms.

Other works by the Author:


1971 – A Happy Death

1947 – The Plague

1956 – The Fall

1994 – The First Man

Short stories

1957 – Exile and the Kingdom

The Adulterous Woman

  • The Renegade or a Confused Spirit
  • The Silent Men
  • The Guest
  • Jonas, or the Artist at Work
  • The Growing Stone