Problems of Working Women

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LANDMARKS OF WORLD LITERATURE

Albert Camus The Stranger

LANDMARKS OF WORLD LITERATURE – SECOND EDITIONS Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji – Richard Bowring Aeschylus: The Oresteia – Simon Goldhill Virgil: The Aeneid – K. W. Gransden, new edition edited by S. J. Harrison Homer: The Odyssey – Jasper Griffin Dante: The Divine Comedy – Robin Kirkpatrick Milton: Paradise Lost – David Loewenstein Camus: The Stranger – Patrick McCarthy Joyce: Ulysses – Vincent Sherry Homer: The Iliad – Michael Silk Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales – Winthrop Wetherbee

A L B E RT C A M U S

The Stranger
PATRICK McCARTHY

cambridge university press Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge cb2 2ru, UK Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521832106 © Cambridge University Press 1988, 2004 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published in print format 2004 isbn-13 isbn-10 isbn-13 isbn-10 isbn-13 isbn-10 978-0-511-16520-7 eBook (EBL) 0-511-16520-x eBook (EBL) 978-0-521-83210-6 hardback 0-521-83210-1 hardback 978-0-521-53977-7 paperback 0-521-53977-3 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urls for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Contents

Preface Chronology

page vii ix

1

Contexts

1 1 Biographical sketch 1 2 Historical contexts 5 3 The Stranger and the war

11

2

The Stranger
4 5 6 7 8 9 10

14 Meursault’s languages 14 A mother unmourned? 29 Class and race 37 An Arab is somehow murdered 45 An Arab forgotten and a mother appeased 52 Meursault judges the judges 57 God is dead and Existentialism is born 66

3

Early Camus and Sartre
11 The cycle of the absurd 12 Different views of freedom

72 72 79

4

Camus and the Algerian war

87

v

vi

Contents

5

Why and how we read The Stranger: a guide to 96 further reading 13 14 15 16 Contemporaries, precursors and followers Suggestions for further reading 103 Translations 106 Lo Straniero 108 96

Preface

This book is an examination of Camus’s The Stranger, a work that is regarded as a twentieth-century classic. The main section, Chapter 2, begins with an analysis of the language of the novel, and then deals with the many problems posed by the narrative structure, the relationship between Part 1 and Part 2, and so on. Much has been written on The Stranger and this chapter is an attempt to synthesize existing interpretations. One theme has been singled out, namely, the treatment of the Arab, because it seems to me to have been somewhat neglected. But even here no attempt is made to offer a completely new reading. The other chapters provide supplementary information. Chapter 1 begins with a biographical sketch of the young Camus and readers who believe that the link between a man and his work is unimportant, may prefer to skip it. The remainder of the chapter deals with the historical context – or more precisely the conflicting contexts – in which The Stranger may be set. Chapter 3 examines the parallels and contrasts between the novel and some of Camus’s other early books; it also discusses the young Sartre. Chapter 4 offers perspectives on Camus’ complex relation to Algeria and its troubled history. Chapter 5 summarizes the reasons why The Stranger is regarded as a classic, sets some of the criticism written on it in a historical context and makes suggestions for further reading. An attempt has been made...
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