October 14, 2010

The Stranger: A Review

Side Note: I've become obsessed with Netflix over the last couple years, particularly the instant streaming Netflix movies and shows that just beam right to my TV. IT IS SO AWESOME!!! Sadly, not enough of my friends have this yet so I have no one to talk to about all the crazy shit I come across in my Instant Queue. I decided, like all people that have no one to talk to, to blog about it. So, if you share my obsession with Netflix or are even just a really big movie person check out my new blog (click here). My first review of Shotgun Stories will be going up tomorrow. Now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging...

The Stranger: A Review

Have you ever been a witness to your own life? There are moments when I just feel detached from what is going on around me. Moments when I'm there, but I'm not. I sometimes feel more like an observer than an active part of my own life. Consciously I know that I'm walking around, doing things, talking to people but none of it really seems real. It feels almost like I'm driving my body Being John Malkovich style. The Stranger, by Albert Camus, gives you that feeling. The main character seems to live like that all the time, completely detached from life.

The philosophical question that this book centers around (in my opinion anyway, you could teach a class on this book) is how far a person should go in order to fit into society's norms. The protagonist does not make any effort to live up to the expectations of others and is completely honest in all situations. On its face this seems admirable and an ideal we all strive to, in practice and in this novel it can at times make him seem like a monster. I try to tell myself I'm an absolutist when it comes to being honest and not hurting feelings but this novel made it clear to me that it's not true at all.

Even though it's a philosophical book it really doesn't feel like it, Camus is wonderful in that way. The book isn't that long and moves along very quickly. Give it a read, I'm sure you'll get totally different lessons out of it than I will.


  1. We have used Netflix for years...and man do I love the free streaming stuff...all the BBC movies! *swoon*. I watched the 7 (or 8?) episodes of the BBC's Dickens' Bleak House in one rainy day. That's a hardcore marathon, for sure, but it was SO damn good. The acting was perfection.

    Anyway, back to this blog post...they DO teach classes based on the Stranger. And it's an incredible piece of writing. I've read it several times and get something new out of it each time.

    Okay, I need to scurry back down to my writing cave and get these revisions finished. Have a delightful weekend.


  2. I can't tell you the last time I watched a freakin' movie. ANY freakin' movie. WTH am I doing with all my free time? I dunno.

    What I DO know is that surreal, walking-like-you're-underwater feeling. Don't care for it...feel it more than I care to admit. I often wonder about that expression that if you're thinking you might be crazy, you're probably just fine.

    God, I hope that's true.

  3. Standing on a beach with a gun in my hand, staring at the sea, staring at the sand...I'm the Stranger...killing an Arab...

    I remember when I first read The Stranger back in high school and fell head over heels for Camus, Sartre, etc. Read 'A Happy Death' - that was my favorite Camus.

    Was lucky enough to take an entire college course on Existentialism at PSU - phenomenal combo of great reads and writing writing writing!

    Thanks for bringing back this memory :)

  4. Lola: I keep hearing things about this Bleak House, I think it'll have to go on the queue. I did a marathon like that when I discovered Dexter... I lovvvvve that show. And yes, it's a book I'll have to pick up again in a couple years. Hope the revisions go well!

    Kathryn: Yes, it's an awkward feeling and hard to embrace. When you write about it though it can be pretty awesome, from my experience anyway. Take some damn time for yourself already! Jeez.

    Eco: I'll have to look for A Happy Death. I've read The Plague which I also enjoyed. The existentialists do have the best writers I think, I'll agree with that.

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  6. Netflix doesn't work in Pakistan. Dammit.

  7. Ah this book. This book was the reason why I got an F one paper in my 10th grade English honors class. My teacher told me the guy was innocent because he was just conforming to society. I think she was a load of hogwash. I actually want to re-read this book as an adult so I can see I can enjoy it rather than listen to a batcrazy woman butcher it.

  8. This book will now go on my reading list... it sounds like I will be able to eerily relate it to a couple family members, if not myself~

  9. Megan: It was really good. To be honest I'm surprised so many people have read it. I've never really heard people talking about it or anything. By the way, thanks for coming by and feel free to come back anytime!

    Kanwalful: That sucks! I know they're running it out slowly to other countries, it only just made it to Canada.

    Melanie: I don't think he was innocent. I'd think it would have been more manslaughter than murder but I think everything was worse because he didn't conform.

    City Girl: It's good, check it out.


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