[Novel] The Stranger (Albert Camus)

The StrangerThe Stranger offers the best representation of a psychopathic mind I encountered in fiction so far, mainly because it doesn’t turn the character in question into a crazy serial killer and actually provides his own genuinely lamentable account on the unfair treatment he receives from the world. A masterful work indeed, and very concise, too; perfect for a short read.

Positive: Negative:
Crisp, indifference prose paints an accurate picture of the protagonist’s mind
Interesting characters
Good, fast pace
Thought-provoking on psychopathy and what constitutes “normal” in our society
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4 thoughts on “[Novel] The Stranger (Albert Camus)

  1. This is one of my favourite books. I reread it a year ago and held a short presentation for our literary class. I was actually surprised how much I still loved it, I was in my teens when I read it the first time.

    Anyway, I don’t really agree with the psychopathy though, I felt the protagonist was perfectly sane, just a bit different than your regular guy. I really liked him. And the novel itself is very masterfully written, it’s thought provoking, distressing and funny, all at the same time. A couple of pages of ‘Stranger’ has so much going on that one could write an analysis of the book easily 10 times longer than the original text.

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    • Yeah, ‘The Stranger” is indeed a very rich book for its otherwise humble length.

      Btw, that’s exactly what I meant about psychopathy! In the field of psychology psychopathy, or rather antisocial personality disorder, refers to an aloof mind unable to make connections with the outside world on an emotional level; which I find pretty much the definition of the protagonist here.

      The media/popular fiction made the word psychopath into a synonym for a raving murderer that will eat your children if you don’t lock your house up, which really sucks for people who get diagnosed with the condition these days. As they are neither mad, nor have a tendency to kill (perfectly sane, just a bit different from regular folk, as you might say), though they might find it easier to pull the trigger if assaulted than your average person; especially if the sun is hot.

      I doubt Albert Camus was thinking about the actual condition when he wrote the book though, as the concept wasn’t nowhere as well known back in the day. He probably just meant to write an ‘extremely’ aloof character. That, or he knew someone with the condition (or had it himself, haha). It’s not as rare as you might think. 😛

      Anyway, thanks for the comment! I wish I went for a more “humanitarian” degree myself, all stuff I ever had the chance to present had either the word “enzyme” or the word “polymerase” in their titles. xD

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      • Yes I guess the protagonist could indeed suffer from some lesser form of psychopathy. I didn’t immediately think about serial killers but I did think about someone that’s void of feelings and manipulative. While reading I felt really close to the protagonist even though I think that I have a lot of feelings, and they’re all over the place.

        In our curriculum we only have a couple of literary courses with mostly focusing on things like information seeking. So I don’t really feel like a student of humanities myself – I’d really like to continue to “regular” university for master’s degree, but I can’t afford it. I also read biology for a year but kind of blew my studies at that point of my life.

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