Tag Archives: The Stranger

Albert Camus’s THE OUTSIDER

Just finished reading The Outsider (1942) today, the most existentialist / absurdist / nihilist book I have ever read. Here is my favorite page for sheer hilarity, related by the protagonist in jail:

Between my mattress and my bed-plank, I’d actually found an old scrap of newspaper which had gone all yellow and transparent and was almost stuck to the material. It was a small news story. The beginning was missing, but it must have taken place in Czechoslovakia. A man had left some Czech village to go and make his fortune. Twenty-five years later he’d come back rich, with a wife and child. His mother and sister were running a hotel in his native village. In order to surprise them, he’d left his wife and child at another hotel and he’d gone to see his mother who hadn’t recognized him when he’d walked in. Just for fun, he decided to book a room. He’d shown them his money. During the night, his mother and his sister had clubbed him to death with a hammer to steal his money, and then thrown his body into the river. The next morning, the wife had come along and without realizing revealed the man’s identity. The mother had hanged herself. The sister had thrown herself down a well. I must have read this story thousands of times. On one hand, it was improbable. On the other, it was quite natural. Anyway, I decided that the traveller had deserved it really and that you should never play around.