Interviewer: The opening line of this novel (the stranger) has become one of the most widely known quotes in literature. What is your response to this and what were your original intents for the line?
Camus: When I was writing this novel, I did not intend for this line to become so well known. I did not even intend for this line to be spectacular or even important. But after the readers have read this novel, they believe that this line is very important to the novel. After sixty-something years, I have begun to agree with my readers. I think this is a very important line, and I have even begun to consider it worthy of its fame. I am a strong proponent of the Theory of the Absurd, and this line sums up the Theory very well. The Theory discusses the lack of coherence in a brief and painful human existence. In the first line of The Stranger, the reader gets their first glimpse of the Absurd in the character Meursault and the telegraph he just received. Meursault is essentially saying that the loss of his mother means nothing to him. Most people would argue that their mother’s death is a big deal, but Meursault, an indirect proponent of the Absurd, dismisses his mother’s death as a trivial event. Given the basis behind the line, I am glad that it has become so popular and widely known. I feel very strongly about the Theory of the Absurd, and I am glad I can spread my wisdom to others. After seeing the success of this single line, I feel very positive about what has happened to it and my novel.