Introduction: After Fifty Years, Still a Stranger

  • Adele King


After fifty years it is obvious that L’Etranger has joined the canon of great books and belongs alongside such classics of the humanities as the works of Kafka and Dostoievsky. Its relationship to The Trial and to the Grand Inquisitor is more than a matter of possible influences, it is an engagement in the grand debates of western and, apparently, universal humanity concerning such matters as the individual and society, freedom and responsibility, the absurd and meaning. The seeming lack of connection between events and feelings, the ironies and the incongruities of the trial, the sense of alienation and the feeling that despite the lack of meaning life may be worth living offer a counterpoise to the deeper despair and hopelessness of that other great work of the ‘existential’ period, Waiting for Godot. They both speak to us of a world in which community, God, nature and other kinds of transcendence no longer seem credible. Yet with L’Etranger we feel that such despair is questioned and that even when accepting his death Meursault is, in his seeming inarticulateness, symbolic of a complex and wide range of human emotions concerning the fundamental issues of life, issues of more importance than the passing political and social problems upon which many writers have established their reputations. The supposed death of God does not mean that life can be reduced to ideology, theory, politics or other obsessions.


Great Work Racist Attitude Psychological Tension Lost Paradise Universal Humanity 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1992

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  • Adele King

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