The Stranger Book Summary - The Stranger Book explained in key points
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The Stranger summary

Albert Camus

A Philosophical Journey Into Alienation

4.6 (10 ratings)
22 mins
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    The Stranger
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    A Frenchman in Algiers.

    The Stranger has one of the most recognizable openings in twentieth century literature. It begins with the words:  “Maman died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.” 

    This is not only an attention-grabbing start; it also says a lot about our narrator and central character, Meursault. Meursault is a Frenchman living in Algiers. From the start, his reaction to his mother’s death is marked by one thing in particular, indifference, which is a main theme of the book.

    To put it another way, Meursault receives the news of his mother's death with a detached acceptance. A while ago, Meursault had his mother put in a nursing home. Now, uncertain of the exact day she passed, he arranges to attend the funeral more out of obligation than grief.

    Once he arrives at the nursing home, the director informs Meursault of his mother's wish for a religious burial, a detail that surprises him since his mother had never shown any interest in religion. When offered the chance to see her body one last time, Meursault declines. He does, however, agree to a cup of coffee and shares a cigarette with the caretaker.

    As night falls, Maman's friends arrive and hold a silent vigil. The following morning, the director allows Thomas Pérez, one of Maman's close friends, to join the funeral procession, mentioning that she considered him her “fiancé.”

    All along the trip to the nursing home, as well as during the procession to the cemetery, Meursault appears to be most affected by immediate concerns. In particular, he seems defeated by the hot summer weather and his exhaustion from traveling.

    The next day, Meursault returns to Algiers. At the beach, he encounters Marie, a former colleague with whom he shares a brief romantic history. He asks Marie to go to a movie later that evening. She agrees, and they go to see a comedy. Afterward, Marie and Meursault spend the night together.

    Spending Sunday in his apartment, Meursault settles into an old routine of mundane activities. He finds solace in small rituals, like cutting out newspaper ads and observing life from his balcony. He doesn’t really like Sundays; they are monotonous, boring. When he realizes that Monday will start the week all over again, he realizes that his mother's death hasn’t really changed anything.

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    What is The Stranger about?

    The Stranger (1942) is widely considered a classic in twentieth-century literature. It tells the tale of a murder in Algiers, and the unusual trial that follows. While there’s no mystery as to who did the killing, the story raises many questions about what makes a person guilty in the eyes of their community.

    The Stranger Review

    The Stranger (1942) by Albert Camus is a classic existentialist novel that challenges societal norms and explores the meaning of life through the story of Meursault, a detached and indifferent man. Here's why this book is worth your time:

    • Through its provocative themes of alienation and absurdity, it forces readers to question their own existence and values.
    • Camus' portrayal of existential crisis and the consequences of indifference creates a thought-provoking and introspective reading experience.
    • The novel's philosophical depth and stark portrayal of human nature ensure that it is far from dull, keeping readers engaged and contemplative throughout.

    Who should read The Stranger?

    • Fans of classic literature
    • Anyone interested in philosophy
    • People curious about existentialism and absurdism

    About the Author

    Albert Camus was a French author, playwright, and philosopher. In 1957, we won the Nobel Prize in Literature. His other works of fiction include The Plague and The Fall, and among his notable non-fiction works are The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel.

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    The Stranger FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Stranger?

    The main message of The Stranger is the absurdity of human existence and the indifference of the universe.

    How long does it take to read The Stranger?

    Reading The Stranger takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Stranger a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Stranger is worth reading for its exploration of existential themes and unique storytelling style.

    Who is the author of The Stranger?

    The author of The Stranger is Albert Camus.

    What to read after The Stranger?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Stranger, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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