Talk:The Stranger (novel)

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old talk (may be unsigned, unorganized and undated)[edit]

I completely disagree that Meursault doesn't embody the existential philosophy or that is actions are "subconscious at best." Meursault is a natural result of someone who has intellectually (and consciously) embraced the idea of a lack of inherent meaning in the world and thus lives his life in the present and for the pleasures of the physical world at hand.

Just thought I'd mention that the second English translation says right in it that the translation was originally published in 1988. Someone put 1989 in the article. I decided to mention it here instead of editting the page myself as I've never editted a page here before.

Oops, my edit didn't show up how I had intended it. See what I mean about never having editted anything here before? Sorry

I always thought that this was best translated as The Outsider; I know it's been published as The Stranger but certainly I wouldn't search for this work under The Stranger but as The Outsider. I suspect I am not alone. user:sjc

hey, i understand, and you're right to a point, and it might be a regional thing too, but the french translation is 'foreigner'...I just googled it

I tend to agree with you, sjc - The Outsider is more familiar to me as well, but a Google search on "'The Stranger' Camus" comes up with a lot more hits than "'The Outsider' Camus". The book has been translated as both, so it doesn't matter that much which one the article is at, so long as there is a redirect from the other name. --Camembert

Personally, I know it best by the French title (probably because I read it for a French language class...) As such "The Stranger" is immediately recognizable; "The Outsider" less so. --Brion 19:50 Oct 20, 2002 (UTC)

Should I really state what I think of having l'Etranger under the title of The Stranger. That's a shame !!! But, of course, I will be told that this is an english wiki with english titles, english everything. Still, that translation is horrible.

This said, Magreb is a bunch of several countries (as defined in the text). I might be wrong, but as far as I know, Pieds noirs are french people who got to Algeria, stay there for a while (more than a generation), and then come back. Most of the Pieds-Noirs settled in Marseille region, Toulon, St Raphaël...A couple of people think they refer not only to french but more widely to europeans, but always, who had been in Algeria only. Not the whole Magreb. This is important imho. I'll check more though.

Reference article

Actually, I believe that pieds-noirs general refer to the French colonists who left Algeria after independence was granted to Algeria in 1962. The proper term for Europeans in Algeria during the period of French rule would be 'colons' meaning colonists.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:01, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English), when a non-English book is written up, the article should be named for the most commonly used English title. So I guess The Stranger is what's best. —LarryGilbert 22:41, 2004 Mar 31 (UTC)

(note: my first language is French) I see no reason for the comment concerning l'étranger being rightly translated as 'foreigner'. Étranger does have several meanings in French that need to be disentangled. It does have the connotation of external to one's country, as in Affaires Étrangères => Foreign Affairs. However, it also has the connotation of a generic person unknown to you. In the context of Camus' book I would say that Mersault is an étranger in the sense that he is a stranger in the sense that is world is unknown to even himself. Camus focuses a lot on the way Mersault is unaffected by the world around him, hence making himself a stranger to everyone including himself. Therefore I think the comment about foreigner be removed --Pmineault 06:16, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Was this novel actually influenced by Heidegger, as the article says? That seems unlikely to me. --Ilyusha

I haven't read this novel but I was told at school that it is the only French novel written in the perfect tense (all other novels being in the past historic), and that this in itself gives it a feeling of alienation. I don't know if this is true, but if it is, it's worth someone adding to the article. Ben Finn 22:32, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I don't have the book in front of me, but this seems extraordinarily unlikely to me. Jkelly 04:53, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
It is true that The Stranger is written without using the passé simple, and that it is, to my knowledge, unique in this respect. As to this engendering a feeling of alienation, I really don't know. 17:47, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
The compound past is a conversational tense whereas the simple past is a literary tense. In general the book is written in very simple language, which makes it ideal for students. As for what that gives you, I felt it was a little cold and detached. (e.g., first sentence "Aujourd'hui, Maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas." "Today, Mom died. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know.") —Casey J. Morris 03:48, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

I attempted to clean up this page a bit and add sections. Also, I changed the translation note to reflect Pmineault's comment. removed the clean-up tag, if someone thinks this page still needs clean up, please either clean it up yourself, or return the tag and write on the talk page what is missing.--darkskyz 12:29, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The article states, "Meursault ... believes passionately in truth and justice" Yet, it's quite the opposite. Meursault is indifferent about these ideals. You do not see him fighting injustice or going into a philosophic frenzy searching for truth. Actually, truth for him is malleable and undependable. It is also irrelevant. He is only concerned about truth and justice when they directly affect his life, as seen after he recieves the death sentence.

"Meursault's love of truth overrides his self-preservation instinct - he feels that he must be punished for his actions, and refuses to try to evade justice." This is also questionable. Meursault didn't really believe he did something wrong. (It was the sun!) He shows no remorse and does not regret what he did. There is no way he is welcoming punishment! It is not the way he thinks. In the last chapter, he yearns for freedom and wishes to start living once again. No, he did not want to die to rectify the situation; he simply stopped stressing about death at the end.

I agree. Badgerpatrol 00:05, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

That is true, Meursault is partially an existentialist, therefore he does not believe in institutions (such as the police or marraige). The first half of the book is existentialist, Meursault never judges anyone, only observes them. Thrawst

I attempted to fix this to describe his behavior (he's honest) without the commentary on his beliefs and values that some previous editor had made but that seems neither directly present in the text nor cited as a third party's interpretation.

Did Meursault commit murder?[edit]

I was always under the impression from reading l'Etranger that Meursault didn't kill the Arab on purpose, which the word murder would suggest. I think kill would be a better word for describing it.

I agree that 'kill' would probably be a better word, though I almost wish there was a word in-between 'murder' and 'kill', because its not like any of his explanations actually make sense as far as an accidental shooting go (or, really, as reasons for murder). -Seth Mahoney 02:35, Aug 28, 2004 (UTC)

"It is the highest selling book in France."[edit]

This claim was in the intro graf, I removed it because it seemed unlikely to me, is in the wrong spot, could use some figures to back it up, and in general looked like an anonymous poster was making an untrue claim. --Andymussell 22:40, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

the arab[edit]

the article mentions that "the arab" is raymond's ex's brother, but i was under the impression that he was not related to her but just the same nationality.

No, I just read that part today, and I'm pretty sure that is correct. It is Raymond's ex's brother.

It is Raymond's mistress's brother. Not Raymond's brother or ex-brother. Raymond wasn't married to his mistress. 04:17, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

determinism != no free will[edit]

"Another theme is that we make our own destiny, and we, not God, are responsible for our actions and their consequences (non-determinism)." I strongly disagree with this sentence. Determinism doesn't neceserily claim that free will doesn't exist or that God is responsible for everything. Determinism is simply the belief that every physical action has a cause and it can be predicted scientifically if you know its current state. In human behavior, for example, it would be like predicting when you would get hungry... it won't predict if you would steal to satisfy your hunger

Please sign your contributions to talk pages by adding -~~~~ at the end. Maybe not, but it doesn't really matter. This always sounds a little harsh, but the thing is that it doesn't matter if you agree or not - what matters is what the philosopher(s) in question say, whether or not it is sourced (or sourcable), etc., according to Wikipedia:NOR and Wikipedia:Cite your sources. -Smahoney 16:43, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

The Outsider[edit]

Even though the literal translation of l'étranger is "the stranger" or "the foreigner", the "outsider" works better as it shoes meursault's alienation from society, which is a running theme in the novel

Please sign your contributions to talk pages by adding -~~~~ at the end. There are English editions of the book called both The Stranger and The Outsider. Currently, The Outsider is a disambiguation page which links to The Stranger (among other places). -Smahoney 16:41, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
"Stranger" is an equally applicable term for Meursault and his position in--or out from, rather--society. Also, are you so certain the title refers to Meursault? Perhaps it refers to the Arab he kills, who is a stranger to Meursault. "The Foreigner" would also work in this case. There are dozen of interpretations as to what the title refers, and any of the possible translations would be applicable in multiple senses. Personally, I tend to favor "The Stranger," as it can be applied to more interpretations than any of the others, so it is more inclusive. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:15, 16 May 2007 (UTC).

It is just another example of Americani'z'ation. In Britain I have only heard of it referred to as 'The Outsider', however as it was primarily published in The U.S. as 'The Stranger', this set the precedent for all international search engines and resources such as wikipedia. Whatever it 'should' be called I feel we should, if somewhat regretably, accept it under the latter title for simplicity, especially when it is taken into account that the preceeding debate's efforts did not provide a unanimous decision on what the 'correct' translation 'should' be. Sbrf (talk) 21:03, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Insightful comment by Sbrf. Perhaps it's because I'm American, but I'm having a bit of difficulty with the article's statement that the title is more commonly translated as "The Outsider." First, there is no evidence cited to qualify that statement, and second, a cursory search online both in general and in various book retailers turns up more hits for "The Stranger." I haven't changed the original article, but I thought it'd be worth bringing up. -Anon (talk) 18:21, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Problem with "Cultural Influences"[edit]

I think the title of the section "cultural influences" is misleading. Under the title cultural influences I'd expect to find elements of culture that influenced the book, at least, that's what anyone reading proper English should expect.

I propose the section be renamed "Influences on culture" or something to that tune. Even "references in popular culture" would suit me fine; anything but "cultural influences," it is a very misleading and inaccurate title indeed. Any takers? TydeNet 10:33, 18 September 2006 (UTC)


  • The tone of the two English translations is quite different, with the Gilbert translation exhibiting a more formal tone, while the Ward translation *is more "Americanized". An example of this difference can be found in the first sentence of the first chapter:
  • * Gilbert translation: "Mother died today."
  • * Ward translation: "Maman died today."
  • (Maman is an informal French term for mother.)

Is replacing an English term with a French one really a good example of it being more Americanized? Or is that just an example for it being a less formal tone? Seems kinda unclear as it is. Nakanja 12:33, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

I agree. This is either a bad example or just poorly explained. I completely fail to see how using 'Maman' makes the Ward translation more "Americanized." Can anyone explain this, or provide an example that makes sense? I am taking out the words after "a more formal tone" in that sentence until it is edited to be clearer, since the sentence makes sense stopping at that point anyway. CoramVobis 02:11, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
It would be better to call the Gilbert translation "Anglicanized" rather than calling the Ward translation "Americanized." Camus admitted that he wrote The Stranger purposely in an "American" tone and style, drawing influence from authors such as Cain and Hemingway. Ward set out to make his translation follow Camus's original writing as close to the letter as possible--hence, it seems "Americanized" when compared to Gilbert's, when actually Gilbert's is the one that changes wordings to seem more "British." The introduction to the Ward translation shows many good examples illustrating this, as do multiple critical reviews that can be found in CLCs. The example given here, however, is horrible, as has been said above. 04:09, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Hello. All I want to say is : the best translation would be : "Mum died today". And voilà. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:44, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. - (talk) 08:17, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

yeah he's an enigma, not a baby "MUM" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:37, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree. It should also be pointed out the the differences are not just English vs. American, there have also been many changes in English from 1946 to 1988. "Mum" is much more acceptable to modern readers. Also,there have been changes in translation theory, the modern style of translation is to follow the original much more closely, the translator follows the original as closely as possible and keeps his own interpretations to a minimum. QuentinUK (talk) 01:13, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

revert of recent addition[edit]

Someone did a cut and paste of a large mass of text that was a plot mixed in with original analysis. It looked like a school paper. Not really appropriate for Wikipedia. A short plot summary is fine with cited analysis by notable critics in a separate section. -- Staubach 14:41, 25 January 2007 (ETC)

The Gilbert is not more formal. It is the most direct translation. The sentence structure is left almost identical to that of the original French.

More cleanup[edit]

I cleaned up the article a bit more, combined the translation sections and refrences sections, removed some insignificant cultural references (movie characters seen holding the book, president Bush's reading list, etc.), and added a No original reasearch template to the top of the background and philoshopy section as it seems like OR. darkskyz 11:43, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Existentialist or Absurdist?[edit]

This article calls The Stranger an Absurdist work yet if you go to the Wikipedia article on Existentialism The Stranger is classified as an Existentialist piece of literature. I think that this could cause some confusion amongst people looking for information regarding the topics of the book and both schools of thought. Thoughts or Comments?

I lack the know-how to make the proper changes which is why I'm leaving this up to you kind folks.

PatMan33 03:38, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Camus rejected being identified as an "existentialist." Absurdist would be a more appropriate label. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:10, 16 May 2007 (UTC).

"The Stranger" may be interpreted as a piece of existential lierature, but as Camus' rejcts the existetialist label, and the novel also more faithfully reflects his own philosophy of the Absurd, Absurdist would be a more appropriate label.--Lanklan 14:55, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

referenced in Jarhead[edit]

Near the beginning of Jarhead, Private Swofford is reading it in the head. Staff Sergeant Sykes, played by Jamie Foxx, grabs it and mumbles a line from the novel. --ProdigySportsman 00:37, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

This is insignificant to the entry on the book. I removed it. See WP:TRIV and WP:HTRIV darkskyz 13:22, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:TheStranger BookCover3.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot 04:33, 3 July 2007 (UTC)


If you read this book from the beggining until the last word, you will see that what he talks/screams when attacking the priest, in the last chapter of the second part, is SO FAR of being a matter of social alienation - He was aware of almost everything - but, is a matter of (social -only?) indifference/irrelevance.

[the sentence: "The novel tells the story of an alienated man, Meursault, who eventually(...)"]

Not a good article[edit]

This article is not good. For one thing, it doesn't pay the slightest attention to post-colonialist analyses of the novel, such as Edward W. Said's and Conor Cruise O'Brien's interpretations of it. There is a huge body of commentary on the book which is not mentioned here at all. I will add what I can. Lexo (talk) 01:21, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

This is not a literary theory lecture. This is a wikipedia article. What you're proposing is by-and-large unnecessary. (talk) 23:16, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
So long as the aforementioned content is properly sourced, it is entirely appropriate. However, I have no reason to believe the article is ungood simply because these things are not mentioned. (It's ungood for plenty of other reasons as of the current edit). -Verdatum (talk) 14:18, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
As you can see, I didn't add what I could, mainly because I moved city in the meantime. But I still intend to add what I can, because the article still fails to set the book in its current critical context. Providing a well-sourced summary of the critical context would not be a 'literary theory lecture' but would do simply what every good WP article on a literary work does: show what notable people have said about the book, and the two people I mentioned - neither of whom were exactly 'literary theorists' - were both notable in their own ways and said some very interesting things about the book, some of which, incidentally, weren't entirely favourable. Lexo (talk) 12:22, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
Rightly or wrongly, the Wikipedia article on Edward Said identifies him as a "literary theorist" in its very first sentence. SHJohnson (talk) 20:59, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

In Favor of "Pop culture references"[edit]

I oppose the deprecation of this "references in popular culture" section, and in general any such sections in articles about very famous works, provided they do not dominate the article. The extent of influence and recognition in other works is relevant cultural context. Enumeration of such influences is meaningful encyclopedic content which may help readers understand the degree of importance of a given work, especially the historical persistence of influence, and provides references to help readers explore derivative works.

One could argue for recasting such sections as unified, coherent, scholarly discussions of influence, but this requires an analytical and comprehensive scholarly authority which realistically, is rarely going to be available, while the ability to simply record cultural references as facts is ubiquitous. While preferring the former, we should not prohibit the latter. Rep07 (talk) 14:48, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Your argument, while valid, is beyond the scope of this article. Among other places, you can find this issue discussed at WP:TRIVIA and WP:HTRIV. Concerning this article specifically, I have no problem with enumerating significant influences this work has had upon popular culture. I do have issues with references similar to "a character can be seen reading the novel". This work is unarguably significant, and does not require an enumeration of every evocation of the novel in every work of fiction to justify its significance. Tracking down these references oneself, as opposed to relaying another published work's findings is an example of Original research, relying on Primary sources. -Verdatum (talk) 14:31, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

About the plot[edit]

Is it just me, or does the plot section read more like an existensial analysis of the book? Not that that's wrong- it just doesn't seem to directly deal with the plot. Djlane the dude (talk) 00:04, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

Dangit, you're right. Anyone who wants to rewrite the plot section to stick closer to describing the events in the book is welcome to do so. Though some of the interpretation that would be removed may need to be moved off to another section. -Verdatum (talk) 16:29, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Is Meursault A Sociopath?[edit]

I'm not sure if it's fitting for inclusion in the article, but one of the main things I found myself asking as I read part two of The Stranger was whether Camus was deliberately painting a picture of Meursault as a sociopath. I've not read much in the way of analysis of Camus' body of work or The Stranger in particular so I don't know if this has been debated but it's a question that begs an answer. --Piepie (talk) 19:53, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Depending on how strictly you are using the term, yes. See sparknotes. It might not be a bad idea to sort things out so that there is a character analysis section discussing things like this. -Verdatum (talk) 16:18, 28 December 2009 (UTC)


I think the introduction of the article could be qualified as an spoiler (and thus would need an spoiler alert, but that wouldn't be adequate for the beginning of the article). The killing of the arab man takes place in the end of the first part of the book, after 6 chapters, and so is not just an introductory part of the book. I know that it is a well-known literature piece, but some people (like me in fact) don't know that this book is actually about this murder.

00:12, 19 June 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by John C PI (talkcontribs)

There is a wikipedia content guideline that WP articles about works of fiction don't contain spoiler warnings: see WP:Spoiler. This is a site for general information, and so anyone reading a WP article on a novel should expect that there will be some sort of plot summary and that the summary will be reasonably complete. The function of the article is not to entice people into buying the book so as to find out what happens. If you found out what happens in the book and didn't want to know - well, too bad for you, but you should have expected that from an encylopedia article. Lexo (talk) 12:17, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Killing an Arab[edit]

Should this song from the Cure be mentioned as influenced by the novel? Im not a fan of "pop culture" and trivia, but this link seems significant to me.Mercurywoodrose (talk) 05:28, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

Agree, it's significant and well-known. Strausszek (talk) 11:12, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree, plus-- as I recall, in direct response to this song "Killing an Arab", after threats of violence, the Cure played a benefit for the PLO or a Palenstinian organization of some kind. I think that is worthy of mentioning, but it needs more than my memory. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:45, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

How relevent is it that G W Bush read this book?[edit]

Is it really relevant? How famous do you have to be, to be mentioned in the article as someone who read the book? Should everybody of equal or greater importance then George W Bush who read the book be mentioned if that information was available? Is your connections to the book relevant? (talk) 23:48, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

LOL, pretty much everyone who studies French at university level gets to read it! It's not just a literary classic, it's also become part of the reading list for courses in French as a second language all around the world, due to its accessible prose and opportunities for discussion.Strausszek (talk) 01:58, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I removed the statement about G.W. Bush reading it. You might as well put that Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, and Bill O'Reilly read it. They all have no importance to the field of literature or philosophy, except to be laughed at for being empty specimens. --Caute AF (talk) 01:17, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Novel or novella?[edit]

The Stranger fits clearly into the usual definition of "novella" why does this article insist on calling it a novel? It (correctly) is included on the current List of novellas and at under 36,000 words in English, calling it a novel seems to be an act of accolade rather than an objective assessment. Certainly it is very often called a novel in reputable sources and there are many many other time-honored examples of novellas passing as novels, but the article should at least note that it is as much a novella as it is a novel. That it is a novella does not make it any less important and the word "novel" is misused when it is applied as an aggrandizement. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:51, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

Article Name[edit]

I'd like to (re)open discussions on whether this page's primary name should be The Stranger or The Outsider. The situation is currently (8 April 2016) a little confused; the article is named "The Stranger", but the infobox is entitled "The Outsider" and the opening line "The Outsider or The Stranger (French: L’Étranger) is a novel..." The topic has been discussed a little before here, in 2004 and 2007. Both titles are used in English, but WP:DIVIDEDUSE doesn't help much in how to choose between them here. Google hits around three times as many for The Stranger as The Outsider, but the WP:GOOGLETEST is generally considered unreliable.

For what it's worth, my personal preference is for "The Outsider", as the first translation, in 1942, used that name and, as the article states: "for more than thirty years his version was the standard English translation". I appreciate that the discussion is not terribly important, as we can redirect from one title to the other anyway. U+003F? 11:12, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

In popular culture[edit]

While many of the instances listed here are significant, drawing parallels between the novel and the work making the reference, I can see no reason why simple appearances of this work in another need listing. I propose to remove the following notes if no consensus is shown to keep them. I will wait a few days before making any changes. In the 1990 film Jacob's Ladder, Tim Robbins' character can be seen reading The Stranger during the subway scene at the beginning of the movie.

In the 2005 film Jarhead, Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) can be seen reading The Stranger during the bathroom scene.

In the 2006 film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Jean Girard is seen reading a French language copy of The Stranger while racing.

In the 2012 film Life of Pi, the titular character of Pi can be seen reading a French language copy of The Stranger in a flashback scene to his youth in Pondicherry, India.

In the first episode of the 2014 HBO Series The Leftovers, Tom Garvey can be seen in the middle of the night reading an English version The Stranger, translated by Matthew Ward.

In the tenth episode of the 2014 WGN America Series Manhattan, the character Ida is seen returning a copy of the book to Elodie and comments on the book "I thought it would be racy" .

In the first season of American Horror Story, in the second episode, Violet is seen reading The Stranger in bed when her mother brings her a cupcake.

--Khajidha (talk) 10:58, 22 May 2016 (UTC)