What Do I Read Next?
The obvious next step from The Stranger would be to read Camus’s other 1942 work, The Myth of Sisyphus. There, through a collection of essays, he explains his position on the absurd at the time of writing The Stranger.
Camus was regarded as the conscience of occupied France for his writings in Combat. For that paper he wrote such editorials as Neither Victims Nor Executioners (printed in the fall of 1946 and reprinted in 1968 by Dwight Macdonald). This piece argued the logical basis of an anti-war stance consistent with his own theories. He argued that murder is never legitimate, silence between those in disagreement is intolerable, and fear must be understood. In short, he defined a modest position “free of messianism and disencumbered of nostalgia for an earthly paradise.”
Camus’s 1947 novel, The Plague, is seen by many to be a parable about World War II that demonstrates his moral philosophy. In this novel, a town is struck by plague but survives not by beliefs and prayer but through the rational investigation and practice of medical science.
There are other works which deal with the theme of absurdity. One very famous work was a play written by an Irishman who also took part in the French Resistance. The play is Waiting for Godot (1952) by Samuel Beckett.
A more properly existentialist work is the 1947 work, The Age of Reason, by Jean-Paul Sartre. Camus worked in the Resistance with Sartre but they had a falling out after the war. Sartre, more than Camus, exemplifies the philosophy of existentialism.
Another existentialist was Simone de Beauvoir. She is best know for The Second Sex. In 1943, she wrote an existential novel entitled She Comes to Stay. It is an interesting contrast to Camus’s novel of the year before.