What Novel Is an Example of Existentialism?


Martha Robinson

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice. It is a school of thought that arose in the 20th century and has significantly influenced literature and art. One of the most famous examples of existentialist literature is the novel “The Stranger” by Albert Camus.

The Stranger

“The Stranger” or “L’Étranger” in French was published in 1942 and quickly became a sensation. The novel tells the story of Meursault, a French Algerian who kills an Arab man for no apparent reason. Meursault’s trial and subsequent conviction become more about his lack of emotions than the actual crime he committed.

Existentialism in The Stranger

“The Stranger” is an excellent example of existentialist literature because it explores themes such as individualism, free will, and the meaninglessness of life. Meursault’s indifference to his mother’s death at the beginning of the novel sets the tone for his lack of emotions throughout the book. He does not seem to have any purpose in life or any particular interests or goals.

Moreover, when he commits murder, he does not feel regret or remorse but instead accepts what has happened as inevitable. His trial becomes more about his character than his actions because he refuses to conform to societal expectations or show any emotion.

Philosophical Themes

The novel also explores philosophical themes such as absurdity and nihilism. Meursault’s actions are seen as senseless by society, but from an existentialist perspective, they are simply a product of his free will and lack of attachment to societal norms.

Additionally, the novel explores the idea that life is meaningless and that individuals must create their own purpose in life. Meursault does not seem to have any grand ambitions or beliefs about what life should be like; instead, he exists solely in the present moment.


In conclusion, “The Stranger” by Albert Camus is an excellent example of existentialist literature. The novel explores themes such as individualism, free will, and the meaninglessness of life.

The protagonist’s lack of emotions and indifference to societal norms make him a perfect embodiment of the existentialist philosophy. If you are interested in exploring existentialism further, “The Stranger” is an excellent starting point.