Sunday, February 21

Book Review: The Outsider

Title: The Outsider (aka The Stranger)

Author: Albert Camus

Pages: 120

Summary: The Outsider, by Nobel Prizewinner Albert Camus, is considered to be one of the most important modern French Novels, and is the forerunner of a great deal of contemporary writing.

Meursault is a young man who works as a clerk in Algiers. He lives in the usual manner of a French-Algerian, middle-class-bachelor-cooking his evening meal for himself in his small flat, sleeping with his girl at the weekends, bathing, going to the pictures. But he has a glaring flat in the eyes of society - he seems to lack the basic emotions and reactions (including hypocrisy) that are required of him. He observes the facts of life, death, and sex from the outside. Even when he is involved in a personal tragedy which results in a frightening and unjust trial, he considers his own feelings and the actions of others with a calm and almost ironic truthfulness.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I wasn’t a big fan of the book. Camus made some excellent points throughout the book and in that aspect he did do a fantastic job at it, but the book it self, just didn’t really “wow” me, like I think it was intended to do.

First of all, the main character and his lack of emotion can become tiresome. I did think it was clever, to have a character who seemed to refuse to conform to society’s expectations but at times I found the character to be a little too undecided in what he wanted, he seemed at times to be bothered by the fact other’s thought him odd (or was he just paranoid?) and at times, just wanting to be by himself, alone in his own world. Either way, there were some interesting points, on conforming to society’s expectations, thoughts on love, death and other philosophies on life, but this was boring and even redundant at times.

The second half of the book was a little more interesting, as the main idea here was an unjust trial. And again, Camus did a great job at pointing out the issues surrounding the time period, and unjust, unfair and cruel justice system that was set up, how manipulative the prosecutor was to win the trial etc, but even here I found that it just didn’t hit me, in the way the author likely intended it to. Perhaps it’s a time period issue, it could be that this book, at the time it was written, had that wow factor, I’m looking for, but now that it’s the in the 2010’s, and I’ve read/seen etc things that are similar, but at the same time different, that are better at depicting the “wow” factor I was expecting from this (I hope I haven’t confused you all to much).

Although the author does make some excellent points on society, unjust justice system etc. the book was boring at times, and not a favourite read.

NOTE: This book when translated is usually translated as "The Stranger" both are the same story, just translated differently. I for one prefer "The Outsider", to be it seems to fit with the story better. But that's just me. Apparently it's a less common translation (The Outsider), so go used bookstores for providing me with less common book translations! (Even if the previous owner wrote all over the book.)

Would I recommend it to read: Eh, I'm not sure. It does have some interesting points, especially for discussion, but it just wasn't that interesting. It is a short book, which helped a bit, but I don't think it would be high on my recommendation list.

What to read next: I'm at an absolute loss on this one. I've had other books by the Author recommended to me, but overall not sure what to read next.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 52 in 52 Challenge100+ Challenge,
New Author Challenge, RYOB Challenge,


  1. I love this book and have read it several times. Oddly, I really connected with Mersault. I was the sort of person who, as a teen, tried to rid myself of all emotions and attachments to the world. I've studied this book in school (twice) and with a book group. I would love to read it in French.

    I like "The STranger" better as the title, solely because it's a more accurate translation of "L'├ętranger." Technically, it's either The STranger or The Foreigner, but not The Outsider so I never liked that version. :)

  2. I think this book sounds as though it would lack the flavor that I would like, and I don't like the fact that it is pedantic and repetitive. I think I will skip this one, but I thought your review was incredibly helpful!

  3. I haven't read this book in a long time...but I remember it fondly.

  4. Amanda - I think this book might have been a better book for me, if I did it as a study in school kind of thing, because there are a lot of conversation pieces to steam from it.

    The Stranger works, because its more accurate of the actual translation from the French, I agree with you there, but in terms of what the book is about, I like the outsider, because to me he seems more like an outsider, and outsider observer etc. Than a stranger. But it is interesting how translations are done and interpreted by each translator.

    Zibilee - Glad my review helped!

    Serena - This was a book I didn't even know about until I found it in the used bookstore. Glad you still remember it after all these years. I love books like that.

  5. I read this last year and enjoyed it. I think it was slow because the main characters life was slow. The place reflected his feelings for life.

    I would be interested in trying more of his work.

    PS. I just discovered your blog and will be sure to follow it in furture!