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The Stranger - Albert Camus

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Watermelon Seed

on 8 June 2015

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Transcript of The Stranger - Albert Camus

The Stranger,
Albert Camus - Fact File
Absurdism vs. Existentialism
Existentialism: There is no higher meaning
-We begin and end with nothing
-Human justify and create meaning for their actions

Absurdism: There is no meaning
-The human condition is senseless
-The world is absurd: devoid of meaning and illogical

Camus was not an existentialist. He felt that the term absurd best described
The Stranger.

Historical Context
The Stranger
French Algeria, 1940s. A young man learns the unexpected death of his mother, and nobody expects his reaction. This novel tracks the story of Meursault, an impassive fellow who finds himself in the centre of unwanted attention after committing an apathetic murder - and the only reason he would give is "the sun". As the people who love him scramble for his innocence, Meursault will face the toughest question of his existence - is life really worth living?
Crisis simulation
Nihilism and Religion
Nihilism is the belief that life is meaningless, therefore nihilist would reject religion and moral principles as they have no value in a meaningless world.
Symbols of religion in the Stranger


Which character from 'The Stranger' are you? http://uquiz.com/JHUaf0
1913, Algeria
Mother, father and brother
Novelist, playwright, moralist, political theorist, essayist
Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Arthur Koestler, and Maria Cesares (became lovers), his uncle Gustave Acault

Communism, Socialism, Absurdism

The court case takes place in Algeria, 1942.

The accused has killed an Arab man with a handgun.

They were caught by the police and face criminal charges.

The accused appears unremorseful.



Interview with Albert Camus
JURY (Kitchen IO group)
DEFENDANT (Stranger IO group)
JUDGE (Stranger IO group)
WITNESS (Stranger IO group)
PROSECUTOR (Half of ADH IO group)


2. You lived with your grandmother in poverty during your childhood, how did this happen? How stable were you financially during your years in the University of Algiers?

My father died in WWI
We were part of the working-class - it was a hard time
Was a scholarship student in high school and University
Contracted tuberculosis in University, held me back from my studies
Worked in part-time jobs
These were monotonous and repetitious

Interview with Albert Camus
3. Can you explain to us your political values over the course of your life?
Interview with Albert Camus
4. Overall, your published novels and essays were deeply influenced by your ideas on existentialism and Absurdism. What was it about them that fascinated you?

I reject the term 'Existentialism'
Wanted to capture man's feeling of alienation after WW1
Humans have lost the ability to communicate
Asked philosophical questions about the meaning of life
Existentialism is about finding meaning, but that doesn't always apply to
The Stranger
After playing the crisis simulation:
How do you feel about the verdict? Was it fair?
Or was it just a ploy to get rid of those who aren’t the same as everyone else in society?
Links to existentialism?
French Colonisation of Algeria
Colonisation began in 1830
Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants
Dissatisfaction among the largely Muslim population of the region
Algerian war for independence first began in 1954
Political Tension
The French and Algerians
Under French rule, Europeans began confiscating large areas of land, especially in the 1930’s
Camus supported Arab aspirations for political rights though was simultaneously unable to picture an independent Algeria
No French court in Algeria would have condemned an European for the shooting of an Arab that had drawn a knife on him
When Camus was 17, all Arab revolts had been smothered and the French military flaunted their imperial power through French colonial rule celebrations.
Radical Arabs were moving towards Nationalism
All these events led to an increase in Arab protests on the ideology of assimilation

'Dabbled in Communism' for a while
Was very much a socialist
Founded the Worker's Theatre
My leftist views were considered a 'threat to national security'
Rejected Communism in 1944
Wanted a peaceful truce between the Arabs and the French in the Algerian War
Don't believe that full independence for the Arabs is possible
Cultural Struggle
The French and Algerian people were officially 'equal'
Islamic institutions and schools were dismantled by the French government as part of a ‘civilising’ mission
The Algerian people were eventually given access to full French citizenship
Pied Noirs were also treated as second-class citizens by the French
Pied Noirs viewed France in a negative light due to differences in living standards
Interview with Albert Camus
1. What were your reasons for choosing the title
The Stranger
for your novel? Your title also translates to
The Foreigner
The Outsider
in English.

It represents Meursault's character as an outsider, or stranger to society due to his lack of emotions
He was different to the rest of society
He was described to be "peculiar" by Marie
Also reflected on how Pied-Noirs were 'strangers' in Algeria
“You know, we’ve been featuring you a bit. We’re always rather short of copy in the summer, and there’s been precious little to write about except your case and the one that’s coming on after it. I expect you’ve heard about it; it’s a case of parricide.”

Mersault’s case is a covered in the press and seems to be a source of scandal and the ‘talk of the town’.

In small groups, compose a catchy headline that would feature in the newspaper and that you feel would be a good title for Mersault’s case and is appropriate to the context
Relations to the Text
French-Algerian writing often expressed the Pied Noirs as unintellectual barbarians.
Meursault often talked about his sensuous experiences.
The killing of the Arab reflects the violence and tensions that was occurring under the assimilation ideology.

Albert Camus
Full transcript