Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd."
Albert Camus' literary works aren't just something you can get onto directly. It requires a certain revision of the background and history of his times which led the author to write the absolutely stunning pieces he's written. I had initially read the original French edition of The Stranger, L'Etranger, for my Literature class, where what you understand of a book and what you make of your understating of it is what matter the most. I liked to consider myself well-versed with the novel and I read the English edition, The Stranger, translated by Stuart Gilbert, purely out of curiosity. This is the US edition and I must admit that I am pretty curious to read the UK edition, The Outsider, as well. What the reading of the former did was that it helped me develop a deeper understanding and establish a certain realisation than the one I thought I previously had.
The Stranger is written from the protagonist, Meursault's point of view. Information that we take for granted and consider as basic, like the first name, job, career/ profession, an at a glance brief about the physical appearance of the main character, is not revealed at all throughout the length of the novel. There's a certain magical appeal to Camus' writing that leaves all these details for the reader's imagination. Not just that, even the entire narration is very open-ended. It's up to the reader to make what she/ he wants of it. The author's ability to make a character unlike any other and yet make him establish a relation with the reader and make the reader relate to him in more ways than one is truly admirable. Meursault, while not exactly an "ideal" person, was still the most genuine and real person I've read about. He shows his true emotions and feelings and doesn't even try to pretend to be someone he's not and that's a feat. As a result of his rather unusual and unconventional actions, he becomes a stranger to the society or he is rendered a stranger to society- it depends on how you look at it. It all, like everything, depends on perspective.
While the English edition piqued my interest, was put down meticulously, made me see things in the novel that I hadn't before and made me come across many aspects that went unnoticed before, I would, any day, prefer to reread the original. Although, emotionally speaking, the English edition had a greater impact on me since I could easily read and understand it at the same time. Camus' writing is really simple to follow but difficult to understand because the core lies in what is not said rather than what is said. The Stranger is a real eye-opener to all that which is very well present around but not so easily given thought to. It's the epitome of that saying which goes something like- it's insane what you see when you aren't really looking. It's some deep philosophy that has me contemplating. While I haven't read many of Camus' works, I know for a fact that I'm going to learn a lot from them and The Stranger is a one of its kind intriguing, fascinating and mysterious novel that has had an impact on me.