‘L’Étranger’ is a novel written by Albert Camus in 1942. The title of this work has an ambiguous meaning which leaves space to open interpretations; it has been translated to English as ‘The Outsider’ or ‘The Stranger’, as the French term ‘étranger’ comprises both these shades of meaning. Meursault, the multifaceted character that Camus chose as the protagonist, can be in fact regarded as an outsider, for he is completely alien to the society he lives in and to a series of social norms which at times he doesn’t seem to comprehend, or which perhaps he refuses to accept.
This essay aims at analyzing Meursault’s character through the absurdist context in which it develops. Is this antihero a self-centered and unemotional narcissist or an autistic? Who is he? Meursault is psychologically detached from the world around him. Events that would be very significant for most people, such as a marriage proposal or a parent’s death, do not matter to him, at least not on a sentimental level. He simply does not care that his mother is dead, or that Marie loves him. Meursault’s common sense is that everyone dies eventually, and their lives do not matter in the end. Meursault is a “stranger” and an absurdity to society because he does not show any emotions, he has no meaning for life, and his only certainty and guarantee is death.
This is not an easy book to read because even today its real message is not clear. For this reason it can be considered a great masterpiece of universal literature not only belonging to a specific literary current that is existentialism.
Our adult readers were wisely guided by their teachers not only during the reading of the novel but also through the vision of the film directed by the great Italian director Luchino Visconti and starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anna Karina. Lively and exciting were the debates among the students and the realization of the booktrailer is the proof.