Judge the book cover: The Stranger

Depending on where you’re from, the English title of Albert Camus’ 1942 French novel L’Étranger will either be The Stranger (US) or The Outsider (UK). Why two different titles, you ask? There’s actually an interesting article about that in The Guardian, but basically, it was sort of an accident. Regardless of the title, Camus’ book is known as a masterpiece and is by far the most famous of his five novels. When I read it for the first time a couple of years ago, I wasn’t sure what to think. It was unlike anything I’d ever read before, and I think my initial opinion was swayed by the absurdity of it all. But I think of this book quite often. It will pop into my head at the oddest of times. I recently read the graphic novel adaptation, which you can see an excerpt from here, and that made me want to reread the book again. So I was happy when the book club I’ve recently joined picked The Stranger for its next read. I decided to challenge myself a little this time around, so I picked up a copy of the French version. I have to read it with my English version next to me so I can refer back to it when I don’t understand something, but I’m not doing too bad, and thankfully the book is short. The French version is beautiful, of course, and if your French is up to the task I highly recommend giving it a go. And if not, have a read of this New Yorker piece that takes a look at the first line of the book and why the translation is so damn hard.

 

 

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