Introduction to The Stranger by Albert Camus
Albert Camus(1913-1960) • Born in Algiers • Father killed at the Battle of the Marne 1914 • Mother went to work as a cleaning lady in Algiers • Raised by mother and grandmother in poverty • Attended college on scholarship • Moved to Paris • Wrote his first novel, The Stranger, in 1939
About the Author • Began writing in 1932, at the age of 19 • Married at 20 • Divorced at 21 • Joined the Communist Party for about 3 years • Suffered a great disappointment in 1938 when he could not pass the medical examination (tuberculosis) required for him to continue his government-funded studies at the university, where he was studying philosophy and hoping to become a full professor
Camus turned to a career in journalism • Wrote social-justice pieces for a left-wing newspaper • Publication was soon suppressed by Algerian authorities for its pro-Arab slant • In 1940, Camus moved to Paris and began working for a daily newspaper • Married again that year – Camus was very vocal about his disapproval of the institution of marriage, and this marriage lasted only 5 years • Wrote and edited Combat, an underground Resistance newspaper published during the Nazi occupation of France.
The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus were published in 1942, bringing Camus almost instant fame. • Followed numerous other novels • Camus received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. • Camus died in an automobile accident in 1960 • The First Man – an autobiographical novel – was in progress (released in 1995.)
Absurdism & Camus • How it all relates to Camus’ life: • 20 when Hitler’s rise to power began in 1933 • Spent his 20’s watching • escalation of World War II • establishment of concentration camps • occupation of France • 31 when Paris was liberated • then witnessed Communist takeovers all over Europe and violent conflict in Algeria • As a philosopher, intellectual, and artist, Camus tried to make sense of the turbulent times through which he lived.
About the Title -- The Stranger • Originally written by Camus in French. • Titled L’Etranger -- the literal English translation is “the stranger” • English translation -- The Outsider (published in 1946) • What connotations do “stranger” and “outsider” have for you? • Do they seem synonymous? • How about “alien,” “foreigner,” or “intruder” • (synonyms for “stranger” in Roget’s Thesaurus)
About the Setting • Setting -- French Algeria in North Africa • Climate -- Tropical (particularly important to the story) • Highest temperature ever recorded: 136 degrees • What associations to you have with tropical climates and intense heat and sun? • What do you imagine it is like to walk along a tropical beach, the bright sunlight glaring off the water and sand?
Instead of manifesting dignity, power, and heroism in the face of fate… Is a protagonist whose character is at least conspicuously contrary to that of the archetypal hero andis, in some instances, its antithesis. HINT: Who are some of the stereotypical heroes we have read about? The Antihero
Odysseus • Julius Caesar • Jay Gatsby • Hamlet