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What if you felt like a stranger among society? What if you felt like a stranger in your own skin? The Outsider or The Stranger by Albert Camus explores the corners of alienation that exist in humanity and in the corners of our very own minds. Meursault is a character held up to be so unequivocally heartless because he approaches life and relationships with an astute objectivity and rationalism that any scientist would give an arm and a leg for. Yet he finds himself tangled in absurd circumstances where his intelligence and surety are paraded as unjust and murderous. Are we to be slaves to the emotional side of our humanity? Must we always display affection and irrational behavior to be considered of sane mind? To be considered truly ‘human’? Originally written in the French language, the novel’s tenderness has been contested by different translators, leaving one unsure if any clarity or change is reached at the end of the novel.
If you’re looking for a text that proves how utterly ridiculous man can be, you’ve surely found one. Albert Camus can be tiresome to read at times (I still find The Plague disappointing) but the underlying themes of this particular novel cannot be dismissed. The Outsider sits perched on a ledge of existentialism and philosophical fiction. Meursault’s condemnation by everyone around him proves that people would rather not take responsibility for their actions. It reveals the desperation of humanity to search for meaning where there is none…and to perpetually keep ourselves outside ourselves: a stranger…till death.