How Albert Camus' "L'Etranger" became "The Stranger": Literary Translation and the Long Life of a Classic

Public lecture by Alice Kaplan, Yale University, French.

How Albert Camus

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
4:30 PM

236 Royce Hall



Albert Camus's L'Etranger has been best-seller for so long, we forget it was ever anything else. But literary classics are made, not born: though The Stranger was a book very few readers understood or appreciated when it was published in 1942, it became a household name—a regular on lists of the great books of the 20th century. Alice Kaplan delved into publishers' archives to uncover a a key episode in L'Etranger's career: the first translation of the French novel into English, in the United States and in England, four years after its publication--in 1946, when the war in Europe had been over for only a year. This is a tale of two cities, involving an author, his publishers, his translator, and his readers and reviewers.


Alice Kaplan, John M. Musser Professor of French, is a specialist of 20th century France. She works at the intersection of literature and history, using a method that allies archival research with textual analysis. Her teaching and research have focused on the Second World War, the Liberation, and the Algerian War, and on the writers Céline, Proust, and Camus. She is the author of Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis (2012) and Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (2016). A literary translator, Kaplan serves on the newly created advisory board of the National Book Foundation’s study of the state of translation in the United States. She is a former Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a recipient of the French Légion d’Honneur as well the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History (for The Collaborator) and the Henry Adams Prize (for The Interpreter).


Cost : Free and open to the public. RSVP not required for admission.

Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, French and Francophone Studies