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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Consider the element of time in the novel. Suggest some reasons why Camus chose not to establish the date or era. Keep in mind the historical context of the novel and the universal pretension of the theme.

Consult psychological literature and create a profile of the “outsider.” What sort of mental condition creates a person of moral indifference? Begin with the book The Outsider by Colin Wilson.

Do some research on the condition of freedom of the press in France under Nazi occupation and the role of journals such as Combat in the resistance to this occupation. Does the refusal of Meursault to abide by the societal code of the world in which he lives have anything to do with the conditions under which Camus struggled?

Read the The Myth of Sisyphus. What is the absurd man? Was Camus successful in creating a character in terms of his theory of the absurd? Does Meursault have a place in reality?

Read the first American existential novel by Richard Wright, entitled The Outsider (1953), and compare to Camus’s The Stranger.

Often encyclopedic entries on existentialism will list Camus as a representative author. Select an existential novel (by such authors as de Beauvoir or Sartre) and compare its themes to Camus’s theory of the absurd. Agree or disagree with such a categorization.

Much has been made of the evident moral clash between Meursault and the magistrate or the priest. Do you think that Camus’s project was the outlining of a moral code or the presentation of the absurd man?