The Stranger Introduction
by Albert Camus

The Stranger book cover
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So you’re going to teach Albert Camus’s The Stranger. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, The Stranger has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it confronts challenging topics—domestic abuse, murder, cynicism—teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. Studying The Stranger will give them unique insight into social conformity, colonialism, and important themes surrounding free will, moral judgement, and the philosophy of absurdism. This guide highlights some of the most salient aspects of the text before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 1942 
  • Recommended Grade Levels: 11-12 
  • Approximate Approximate Word Count: 36,800 
  • Author: Albert Camus 
  • Country of Origin: France 
  • Genre: Philosophical Fiction, Courtroom Drama 
  • Literary Period: Modernism, Existentialism 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Person, Person vs. Society, Person vs. Supernatural, Person vs. Self 
  • Narration: First-Person 
  • Setting: Algiers, Algeria, mid-1940s 
  • Structure and Dominant Literary Devices: Unreliable Narrator, Two-Part Structure 
  • Mood: Detached, Cynical

Texts that Go Well with The Stranger

Nausea (1938) by Jean-Paul Sartre. Similar in structure and style to The Stranger, Nausea is Sartre’s existentialist philosophical novel. Antoine, the novel’s protagonist, is an isolated, dejected historian living in Bouville, a fictionalization of Le Havre, the French city in which Sartre lived and taught during the 1930s. As Antoine struggles to control his physiological responses to objects and people in the world around him, Sartre has the opportunity to dramatize the tenets of his version of existentialism. 

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land and “Discourse on Colonialism” by Aimé Césaire. Born in French Martinique in 1913, Césaire was both a contemporary of Camus, a celebrated surrealist poet, and a political revolutionary who worked for self-determination throughout the Caribbean islands. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land (1939) is a book-length poem that explores his identity and experience within the French Empire. “Discourse on Colonialism” (1950) is an expository essay exploring similar terrain. 

“Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. This 1819 poem also questions the...

(The entire section is 530 words.)