The Librairie Gallimard first published the original French-language novel in 1942. British author Stuart Gilbert first translated L’Étranger to English in 1946; for more than thirty years his version was read as the standard English translation. In 1982, the British publisher Hamish Hamilton published a second translation, by Joseph Laredo, that Penguin Books bought in 1983 and reprinted in the Penguin Classics line in 2000. In 1988, a third translation, by the American Matthew Ward, was published, by Random House Inc., in the Vintage International line of Vintage Books. Because Camus was influenced by the American literary style, the 1988 translation was Americanised. A translation by Sandra Smith, entitled The Outsider, was published by Penguin in 2013.
A critical difference of translation is in the connotation of the original French emotion in the story's key sentence: "I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe" in Gilbert's versus Laredo's "I laid my heart open to the gentle indifference of the universe" (original French: la tendre indifférence du monde = literally, "the tender indifference of the world"), although in the Penguin Classics 2000 reprint of Laredo's translation, "gentle" was subsequently changed to "benign". The ending lines between the two aforementioned translations differ as well, from "on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration," to " with cries of hatred", respectively, a significant scene that serves as a foil to the prior "indifference of the world". In French, the triad is "cris de haine", which Ward's transliteral interpretation ("with cries of hate") is closest to in terms of phonics. Gilbert's interpretation takes the liberty of juxtaposing "execration" with "execution".