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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." First published in 1946; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.
student I’d had plenty of ambition of the kind he meant. But, when I had to drop my studies, I very soon realized all that was pretty futile. Marie came that evening and asked me if I’d marry her. I said I didn’t mind; if she was keen on it, we’d get married. Then she asked me again if I loved her. I replied, much as before, that her question meant nothing or next to nothing—but I supposed I didn’t. “If that’s how you feel,” she said, “why marry me?” 28 Albert Camus THE STRANGER I
child in another inn, he went to stay at his mother’s place, booking a room under an assumed name. His mother and sister completely failed to recognize him. At dinner that evening he showed them a large sum of money he had on him, and in the course of the night they slaughtered him with a hammer. After taking the money they flung the body into the river. Next morning his wife came and, without thinking, betrayed the guest’s identity. His mother hanged herself. His sister threw herself into a
sitting in the darkness of my moving cell, I recognized, echoing in my tired brain, all the characteristic sounds of a town I’d loved, and of a certain hour of the day which I had always particularly enjoyed. The shouts of newspaper boys in the already languid air, the last calls of birds in the public garden, the cries of sandwich vendors, the screech of streetcars at the steep corners of the upper town, and that faint rustling overhead as darkness sifted down 60 Albert Camus THE STRANGER
those periods did I hear footsteps. Mother used to say that however miserable one is, there’s always something to be thankful for. And each morning, when the sky brightened and light began to flood my cell, I agreed with her. Because I might just as well have heard footsteps, and felt my heart shattered into bits. Even though the faintest rustle sent me hurrying to the door and, pressing an ear to the rough, cold wood, I listened so intently that I could hear my breathing, quick and hoarse like a
right he tilted up his hat. I asked him what he’d said. He pointed upward. “Sun’s pretty bad today, ain’t it?” “Yes,” I said. After a while he asked: “Is it your mother we’re burying?” “Yes,” I said again. “What was her age?” “Well, she was getting on.” As a matter of fact, I didn’t know exactly how old she was. 11 Albert Camus THE STRANGER After that he kept silent. Looking back, I saw Pérez limping along some fifty yards behind. He was swinging his big felt hat at arm’s length,