One key question we will discuss this week is the relationship between the writing of Albert Camus, particularly his legendary novel The Stranger, and his biography as a person born and raised in colonial Algeria. This question has preoccupied many critics, particularly in recent years. Over the years many interpreters of the novel have emphasized the philosophical — perhaps “universal” — themes approached in the book, sometimes downplaying the importance of its placement within the colonial Algerian context. But a recent book by David Carroll, argues that connecting Camus to his Algerian roots is vital for understanding his work. You can read an interview with Caroll about his book here.
For those who are interested in hearing Camus reading his own book, here are the first and last chapters of L’Etranger read by the author himself. These documents were aired on the French public radio RTF in the 1950s in a show called “Lecture du soir” (“Evening reading”?). It is always interesting to see what voice an author wants to give to his book. If you want more, I have it all. Here is then the first chapter and last chapters of the book: Partie I Chapitre 1 and Partie II Chapitre 5 (fin).
And here is an interview with Camus:
As you read (or re-read) Camus, please offer your thoughts on the novel here.
Is this your first encounter with The Stranger? If not, how was the novel presented to you before? Was the question of Algeria, as a historical, social or cultural space, raised in relation to the novel when it was taught to you before?
What other material can you find about Camus and Algeria?