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In two YouTube videos about Albert Camus's novel L'étranger / The Stranger, I have found the following quote, which supposedly comes from an interview from 1955:

Meursault est le seul Christ que nous méritions.

Translation:

Meursault is the only Christ we would deserve.

(Note that "méritions" is in the subjunctive mood due to le seul que; the present tense in the indicative mood would be "méritons".)

I found this quote in the videos Albert Camus, L'Étranger - Résumé analyse de l'oeuvre complète and Raphaël Enthoven 4 - Meursault est le seul christ que nous méritions, but I have not been able to track down the interview from which the quote is claimed to be taken. Where was this interview published?

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I couldn't find if it really comes from a 1955 interview or not, but Camus wrote such a claim in his Preface to The Stranger (January 1955), available here in English translation (emphasis mine):

One would therefore not be much mistaken to read The Stranger as the story of a man who, without any heroics, agrees to die for the truth. I also happen to say, again paradoxically, that I had tried to draw in my character the only Christ we deserve. It will be understood, after my explanations, that I said this with no blasphemous intent, and only with the slightly ironic affection an artist has the right to feel for the characters he has created.

The same claim is repeated in his Théâtre Récits Nouvelles (1962), for which I found the original French version of the sentence:

Il m'est arrivé de dire aussi, et toujours paradoxalement, que j'avais essayé de figurer dans mon personnage le seul Christ que nous méritions.

Translated by me and Google Translate (I'm not sure if the tenses can be correct in the above translation of the 1955 version):

I also happened to say, and always paradoxically, that I had tried to represent in my character the only Christ that we deserved.

I couldn't find the exact quote "Meursault est le seul Christ que nous méritions" in any Camus writings, and very few results for this exact phrase even on the web. This suggests to me that it's a paraphrase of Camus's exact words, written with "Meursault est" so as to make the context clear, and then has been reproduced and quoted in this form.

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  • I don't have that preface in either of the two (almost identical) editions of L'étranger that I own, so I'll check the Pléiade edition when I get the opportunity. It's curious that that text has an exact date (8 January 1955) when one would not expect anything more precise than a month indication. – Tsundoku May 12 at 10:20
  • @Tsundoku I also thought that was a little too precise, so didn't include it in my answer. I did find another source saying January 1955, so the month seems correct at least. Apparently it's the American University Edition of The Stranger. – Rand al'Thor May 12 at 10:30

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