L'Étranger and the Messianic Myth, or Meursault Unmasked

PhaenEx 2 (1):1-18 (2007)
This paper attacks received ideas about Camus’s iconic hero as honest, modest, innocent, and even messianic. Reviewing these notions, first, as collated in Édouard Morot-Sir’s critical conspectus, ‘Actualité de L’Étranger’ (1996), I trace them back to Sartre’s seminal critique (1943), then to Camus’s characterisation of Meursault as ‘the only Christ we deserve’, in 1955. By close reading of the text, I show that, far from being the modern messiah of authenticity, Meursault is in fact a monster of male chauvinism and an unreconstructed misogynist, whose much-vaunted indifference and amorality only thinly disguise a psychopathology of autism, egotism, paranoia and sadism
Keywords existentialism
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