The Novel The Stranger

]Well school just started and one of the books I have to read for my english class is *The Stranger * and from what I’ve read and heard it is definatley not a book I want to read. Has anyone read it, and if so what did you think?

What have you heard about The Stranger that makes this a book you don’t want to read?

I think it is a classic of 20th c. literature, and any college student ought to be mature enough to handle fiction which presents situations and characters that do not always adhere to Christian values without danger to their faith or morals. For anyone who does feel such reading would be a threat, they should avoid the book. IMO it is one of those books that would make it worth learning French to read in the original language. does that mean I agree with Camus’ philosophy and with the existentialist worldview he represents, no I do not, but as an example of writing that reflects that world view it is without parallel.

Is this sort of problem usual for students ?

and from what I’ve read and heard it is definatley not a book I want to read. Has anyone read it, and if so what did you think?
Are you in AP English?

Camus is very negative–that the search for meaning is pointless.

I haven’t read The Stranger, but when I have had to read novels for classes, I have often read very carefully with my Catholic eyes to see where the author or characters have missed the great Truth of God. A recent case was where I read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce. I HATED it. I thought Steven was a whiny brat and then a self-centered adolescent. But then I looked to see where his philosophy failed and I offered my “insights” in the class. I actually got many to see my point of view, and in that way, the novel became more meaningful and worthwhile to me.

I had to read that book for an ap lit course in high school and write a critical essay. I had one of the worst nightmares of my life as a result.:eek: I still remember it vividly and I am not young! I should say that I was not well formed in my faith at the time and I was actively searching…guess I was kind of vulnerable.

So if you have to read it, do so with your faith firmly in place!
Really, I think if I read it now it would not bother me, I would be able to put it in perspective.

God Bless,

Peace,

Kelly

Camus is reinforcing his basic thesis that there is no Truth, only (relative) truths—and, in particular, that truths in science (empiricism/rationality) and religion are ultimately meaningless.

Another theme is that we make our own destiny, and we, not God, are responsible for our actions and their consequences

I don’t to sit around and discuss this.

I’m 16 and it’s an AP class and I’ve yet to be exposed to this kind of writing. I can’t imagine how I’ll be able to sit in class with my blood boiling if the teacher begans to really ‘discuss’ the book’s themes while the class hangs on her every word.

I have no idea, I don’t teach college literature. frankly I don’t believe it belongs in HS because HS students, even AP have usually not had the philosophy background which a good liberal college education should be providing at the same time. In any case, it is nearly impossible to understand 20th c lit and 20th c philosophy (and a lot of the mess we are in now) without understanding existentialism and its roots, particularly its grounding in French culture. If you think Camus is hard to wade through try Sartre, who is incomprehensible, which is why Camus is usually assigned to lit courses.

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I’m 16 and it’s an AP class and I’ve yet to be exposed to this kind of writing. I can’t imagine how I’ll be able to sit in class with my blood boiling if the teacher begans to really ‘discuss’ the book’s themes while the class hangs on her every word.
Don’t get mad…demonstrate the foolishness of such ideas. I was reading that Joyce novel because I was taking a class to be certified to teach AP and one of my chief arguments against using such novels as that was that students could really relate to “the outcast” mentality that Joyce sports and it could influence their emotional and moral development since students are young and inexperienced with life. However, I actually think I might use Portrait BECAUSE I can help kids see the flaws in the entirely self-focused POV.

I say study like CRAZY and blow it out of the water with logic and reason. Prepare for your (guessing) crazy liberal freak teacher’s lectures and have your own comments well prepared.

Actually–in AP, the kids are mostly talking together with the teacher merely facilitating the discussions. If you have your points well thought out, she/he should let you go with it.

Thanks :slight_smile:

I haven’t read Camus or Sartre :slight_smile: I think it’s a good (& necessary) thing for students to be “stretched”, so that they can learn more than they already know. But, not to equip them with the background needed, would be bad teaching, it would be irresponsible. It would be dreadful if Catholic students retreated into what they knew, & didn’t have the ability to read challeging texts - just as it would be, if they lost their religion. How does one get out of that dilemma ? By having a solid grounding in faith at home ? Not all do, though.

From what I have read, I wonder whether one can tar all existentialism with the same brush - Kierkegaard was a proto-existentialist, but no atheist. For really impenetrable philosophy, some Germans are unequalled - reading some of them is like trying to swim through sludge.

I thought it was a pretty revolting book–The Plague is much better (also by Camus). I find the main character almost completely repellent. It’s beautifully written in French, but you are probably not reading it in French.

It is good to have to tackle the darker parts of human experience, though if it were up to me I’d use something like Crime and Punishment for that purpose.

The great mercy is that The Stranger is short!

Edwin

There are some wise responses here. I agree that The Stranger L’Etrager] is best read in French–Camus can write. The issue of student beliefs and assignments comes up more than one might think. I have heard biology faculty talk about students who are literal creationists who won’t read chapters on evolution. I once had a very pious fundamentalist who asked to be excused from a reading in my course (it was Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House) because it made her sin. (I was using his point of view which for the most part I find light-weight (hence accessible) to contrast it with more substantive arguments. She came to my office and we discussed her situation. She went to her pastor who advised her that she needed to understand the world and its many points of view. She did this and got a fine grade on the essay. One cannot duck these issues. For intstance, in Macbeth (act 5, scene five if I recall) is the phrase “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It stuck with me vividly since I read this as a sophmore in a Catholic HS. What really counts is the competence of the instructor and the acceptance of religious points of view as legitimate. By the way, Camus died in an accident. He may have been moving away from his earlier absurdist view. Consider The Fall. He said he was never an existentialist like Sartre and spoke about various evils in the world. Final thought: Camus is much more readable and interesting than Sartre who I always felt was overrated. ps: that pastor actually came to my class later in the semester and then to my office where we had a very interesting exchange of apologetic arguments.

What really counts is the competence of the instructor and the acceptance of religious points of view as legitimate.

Poly Sci, I appreciate your approach! I hope my kids, when they reach this level of education will have a teacher like you.( Right now we are working through some of the lower-level problems…in Catholic school, incidentally! Nothing as extreme as some other poor CS parents I have read on this forum, thank God!)

But I just wanted to commend you, you are a rarity!

God Bless

i disagree. many readers mistakenly assume that the main character’s “sleepwalking through life” behavior is being presented as normative or ideal by camus. in fact the opposite is true, because at the very end of the book as he is awaiting execution in a jail cell he experiences a sudden realization that life does have a purpose after all – the purpose of life is life itself.

ironically, he needed to stare the hangman in the face to make him realize that life is worth living, but camus is saying most people are similarly oblivious. i never “got” this book until this was pointed out to me, after which it all made sense.

there is a similar “jail cell conversion” scene in the final chapters of “the red and the black” by stendahl, which probably influenced camus.

if you read the protagonist as an antihero, the novel ends on a life affirming note that is in marked contrast to the rest of the book. camus is often seen as the sunnier face of existentialism (in contrast to sartre) for this, and while i’m sure he was no catholic, i like to think the life-affirming ending of the book makes him something of a crypto-catholic.

I didn’t say life was meaningless–I said the search for meaning is pointless (according to Camus). It’s a process of existence–hence Existentialism and Camus’ Absurdism. i find those positions to be ultimately “negative.”

P.S. You know …this is a “spoiler”…:stuck_out_tongue: You tell the ending!

my apologies, next time i’ll include a warning.

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