Outsider by Albert Camus
(Penguin Translated Texts)

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...but Smith's version of L'Etranger is both erudite and agile. It deserves to become the standard translation of Camus's masterpiece.


'My mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know.' Sandra Smith's new translation, based on close listening to a recording of Camus reading his work aloud on French radio in 1954, sensitively renders the subtleties and dream-like atmosphere of L'Étranger. In The Outsider (1942), his classic existentialist novel, Camus explores the alienation of an individual who refuses to conform to social norms. Meursault, his anti-hero, will not lie. When his mother dies, he refuses to show his emotions simply to satisfy the expectations of others. And when he commits a random act of violence on a sun-drenched beach near Algiers, his lack of remorse compounds his guilt in the eyes of society and the law. Yet he is as much a victim as a criminal. Albert Camus' portrayal of a man confronting the absurd, and revolting against the injustice of society, depicts the paradox of man's joy in life when faced with the 'tender indifference' of the world. Albert Camus (1913-1960), French novelist, essayist and playwright, is one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. His most famous works include The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), The Plague (1947), The Just (1949), The Rebel (1951) and The Fall (1956). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, and his last novel, The First Man, unfinished at the time of his death, appeared in print for the first time in 1994, and was published in English soon after by Hamish Hamilton. Sandra Smith was born and raised in New York City and is a Fellow of Robinson College, University of Cambridge, where she teaches French Literature and Language. She has won the French American Foundation Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize, as well as the PEN Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize.

About Albert Camus

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Born in 1913 in Algeria, Albert Camus was a French novelist, dramatist, and essayist. He was deeply affected by the plight of the French during the Nazi occupation of World War II, who were subject to the military's arbitrary whims. He explored the existential human condition in such works as L'Etranger (The Outsider, 1942) and Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942), which propagated the philosophical notion of the "absurd" that was being given dramatic expression by other Theatre of the Absurd dramatists of the 1950s and 1960s. Camus also wrote a number of plays, including Caligula (1944). Much of his work was translated into English. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. Camus died in an automobile accident in 1960.
Published January 1, 1983 by University Press of America. 110 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy. Fiction
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Above average
Reviewed by Lucian Robinson on Dec 09 2012

...but Smith's version of L'Etranger is both erudite and agile. It deserves to become the standard translation of Camus's masterpiece.

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