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A world of absurdity: The Stranger by Albert Camus

RASSIQ AZIZ KABIR | Sunday, 23 January 2022


The Stranger published as L'Étranger in French by French philosopher and author Albert Camus is one of the most influential books published in the last century.

The novel, which can more accurately be classified as a novella due to it being quite shorter than an average novel, is a landmark for the existential school of philosophy.

The main protagonist of the novel is Meursault, who much like Camus himself is a native of the then French Algeria.

He learns about the death of his mother but quite astonishingly, was unable to feel any grief and rejects the chance of viewing her body for the last time while given a chance at the funeral.

After the event, through a cycle of different circumstances, Meursault gets into an affair just a few days after her mother's funeral.

And after a series of events concerning a lot of different people, he kills an Arab man and shows no remorse whatsoever after committing the crime and does not express his guilt while asked by the Chaplain when he was about to get persecuted.

For someone not acquainted with existential philosophy, the whole plot might seem quite absurd and at times very cruel. But Camus has portrayed through the character Meursault the futility, randomness, and at the same time, the hauntingly beautiful aspect of existence.

The character Monsieur Meursault, before the day of his execution, thinks about how random the world is and how we all are destined to die no matter whatever we achieve or go through in our lives. He also contemplates the purpose of his existence, only to not being able to come up with a concrete answer.

The book can be a huge source of relief for a reader in times of sorrow and hardships as the underlying message of the book is that we should not get too overwhelmed by the intricacies of our day-to-day lives. Because everything is random, and at the end of the day, our ultimate destiny is death.

But the book might not be a better suit for people looking forward to the better days to come in the future.

The Stranger can help us come with the pressures and expectations which modern life often impose on us, but the book's philosophy might not really be a better suit for us in most of the situations of our lives.

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