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A Happy Death

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  9,424 ratings  ·  556 reviews
Is it possible to die a happy death? This is the central question of Camus's astonishing early novel, published posthumously and greeted as a major literary event. It tells the story of a young Algerian, Mersault, who defies society's rules by committing a murder and escaping punishment, then experimenting with different ways of life and finally dying a happy man. In many ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 28th 2002 by Penguin Classics (first published 1971)
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Claudia Rocha Yes, it's the story of a man called Mersault and his thoughts on life, happiness and death. It's in French, but I'm sure there's an English…moreYes, it's the story of a man called Mersault and his thoughts on life, happiness and death. It's in French, but I'm sure there's an English translation(less)

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3.82  · 
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 ·  9,424 ratings  ·  556 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
La Mort Heureuse = A happy death, Albert Camus
A Happy Death (original title: La mort heureuse) was the first novel by French writer-philosopher Albert Camus. The existentialist topic of the book is the "will to happiness," the conscious creation of one's happiness, and the need of time (and money) to do so. It draws on memories of the author including his job at the maritime commission in Algiers, his suffering from tuberculosis, and his travels in Europe.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و چهارم ماه
Parthiban Sekar

“You make the mistake of thinking you have to choose, that you have to do what you want, that there are conditions for happiness. What matters- all that matters, really- is the will to happiness, a kind of enormous, ever present consciousness. The rest- women, art, success- is nothing but excuses. A canvas waiting for our embroideries.”
‘No, because I’m constantly in revolt. That’s what’s wrong.’

At either end of Camus' writing life, we have two fractured novels. The First Man was a genuinely unfinished work-in-progress at his time of death; whereas this novel, his first novel-in-embryo, was reworked a number of times before he abandoned it in favour of The Stranger. And there are certainly similarities. Roger Quilliot has suggested that ‘Meursault (protagonist of The Stranger) … is the younger brother of Mersault (protagonist o
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is the Richard Howard translation, hardcover. I rescued it from a dumpster last summer.

There is a napkin inside between pages 114 & 115 with scribbling most likely intended for a journal. There is no name. It's dated 7/20/72. Here is what it says:

May not go to California afterall,
going due N.E. through New England
as planned and still on schedule.
Drifted through winchester to
see Emily, and did, from a
distance in a bar.
May be back in 2 wk. but
hard to say. like to get to Mexico in Dec.

Ammara Abid
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it
"Nothing is more uglier or more degrading than sickness".

I have mixed feelings regarding this book. I like it but didn't adored it, something is missing. Few pages left me in ambiguity and there's a lot of repetition about his women talk & life. Though an interesting read, not brilliant like his other works but still a decent book.
(I know the reason after reading the articles about it)

Camus didn't publish it in his life, his widow do that, after 10 years of his death, there must be some
Jan 04, 2014 marked it as to-read
Yes. I've been warned.
Jan 04, 14
Smiley (aka umberto)
3.5 stars

From his unique, powerful narration, I found reading Albert Camus’s “A Happy Death” fascinatingly pleasurable since he, as one of the great world-class authors, has famously written his fiction like the flowing tide as we can see that it in some pages rarely ends, for instance, in pages 4, 6, 9, etc. So some readers might find such pages boring for such seemingly never-ending prose. However, his uncommon writing style is like magic worth reading and studying because we can be literarily
Beatrice Santos
Mar 04, 2016 rated it liked it
We all know the proverb: "Money doesn't bring happiness".
I always thought that was bullshit. The proofs were lying on the corner spots of my city, waiting for some kind of warm food and warm shelter.
Money itself doesn't make people happy, but the power it gives them, does. The security does. The lack of worrying does. The endless opportunities and all the doors it opens, does.

This book takes an interesting element into my opinion. It adds time.

"I like to be conscious. And what I've noticed is t
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Camus takes us through the maze of self discovery...showing us that what we seek and what we find are often two very different outcomes. Read this before you read The will help "flesh out" the book for you.
Henry Martin
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Camus' A Happy Death is presented as "May be read as a preamble to The Stranger" (The Stranger, being one of my favorite books).

So, where shall I begin?

There are, undoubtedly, very strong similarities between A Happy Death and The Stranger. As a reader, I could view A Happy Death as a hint of what The Stranger would be. After all, both books feature a protagonist named Mersault, both books deal with death, and both books deal with a character who is, in a way, unaffected by the world that surr
Steven Godin
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Something and nothing - A Happy death serves as a precursor to arguably, his most famous work: The Outsider. Exploring similar themes such as, existentialism, life and dealing with death. The long-term ramifications of committing murder is central to the story, but having read a lot of Camus previously, it just didn't seem as good. Meursault, is looked at in a more lyrical way. Instead of going through the motions of an alienated character who was unconvincing then and is stereotypical now, the ...more
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A Happy Death was Camus's first attempt at writing a novel, which he worked on from 1936-1938 when he was in his early to mid twenties. He (wisely) chose not to submit it for publication, but after his death in 1960, his widow (unwisely) decided to allow the unfinished manuscripts to be corrected and compiled into a book, which was published in 1971.

This book is based in part on Camus's early experiences, including his childhood in a blue collar neighborhood in Algiers, his early troubled marria
Sep 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another philosophical book by Camus. They said it's the first draft for 'the stranger' but I appreciated 'The Stranger' more.

I feel like I want to re-read this before deciding exactly what I think of it because I kind of feel terrible for the way he describe women in this novel -_- but, despite that odd factor, I really enjoyed it.
This book is really a tough read since i felt like reading a very deep poetry (well, I should have prepared myself for is Camus' novel) ;)

September 01 ,2012
Suha Hallab
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A happy death, Camus’ first ever written novel (1936) was not published until 10 years after his death. It is the baby form of The Outsider (L’etranger) in which the protagonist “Mersault” our same “Meursault” of The outsider looks for happiness as “a will to happiness” and the money/time dilemma to achieve this goal “Happiness too, is a long patience. And in almost every case, we use up our lives making money, when we should be using money to gain time.”
I felt that this Mersault of “A Happ
Jun 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
"he realized that he must come to terms with time, that to have time was at once the most magnificent and the most dangerous of experiments. Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre."

"it takes time to live. Like any work of art, life needs to be thought about."

"It takes time to be happy. A lot of time. Happiness, too, is a long patience. And in almost every case, we use up our lives making money, when we should be using our money to gain time."
Megha Chakraborty
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book has a lot in common with The stranger and somehow feels a precursor to it. The book starts with Meursault, and his search understanding of happiness. The book is deep and dark, it touches you on so many levels.

Meursault lives for nothing; he appreciates the night and the sea but knows they're meaningless too. He lives and meets death with open hands, because it too is meaningless, and that only makes his life more free and beautiful.

The only issue which I had is with the timeline, it
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"A Happy Death" is an important aid to cataloguing the mindset of Camus as a developing artist. The style is very good, particularly the imagery. That being said, there is probably a reason that Camus did not publish this book himself. The first division of the book--"Natural Death"--is fairly good, and has good plot direction. The second section, "Conscious Death," gets very annoying very fast. By the end of the first chapter in that section, I hated Patrice Mersault, the protagonist. By the en ...more
Richard Knight
Aug 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
Camus never intended for A Happy Death to be released, and there's a reason for that. It's terrible. Sure, there are aspects of this first, unpublished novel that show aspects of a would-be master writer, but what's actually in these pages is subpar at best. I'm pretty upset I read it. The story concerns a guy who kills another guy and then seeks a happy life. That's it. There is room for deep introspection and a glimpse into the existentialism that Camus became noteworthy for, but it's mostly a ...more
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Okay. Weird book. I should have expected something a bit on the existential side when I picked up a Camus work. And as usual, despite it’s odd factor, I really enjoyed it. It is a little bit of a tough read – so descriptive in nature that it’s kind of like reading very poetic poetry. (redundant, I know). And similar to other Camus books I’ve read, it took till the last third of the novel for me to grow to appreciate and love the main character. I’m not exactly sure why Camus didn’t care for this ...more
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Interesting read, however didn't keep me entertained like The Outsider did.
There were a few snippets here and there that I absolutely loved, but as a whole, a bit disappointed.
Nevertheless, Camus is still one of my favourite's.
Engy Habib
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Philosophically-coated worth reading and studying novel!
Turkel Afandiyev
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Even though this is the first known book written by Camus, it was published posthumously, only ten years after the author's death.
And I have a clue why.
Rami Hamze
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
The first novel by Camus, written in his early 20s and which he chose not to publish. It is often compared with “The Stranger/Outsider” in its themes and protagonist (Mersault). Both are existential but in this book, the main character/ author comes across more lively, experimental, and emotional; one who smells the soil and sleeps with his ear to the ground feeling the throbbing of the mountain.

The first 3 chapters were a typical Camus style but chapters 4 and 5 on solitude and conquering of ha
Matthew Appleton
A strange book, an early one from Camus which he decided not to publish. I read it simply as it stands now as a precursor to The Stranger, possibly his most famous book. The plot is similar, a man murders someone and tries to live happily for the rest of his life. He travels a bit and there's some semi-philosophical talks about happiness but not as much, and not as good and thought provoking as I hoped. The writing was good and I'm looking forward to reading The Stranger. Camus was possibly onto ...more
Mohammad Jawich
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Until now he had lived. Now he could talk of his life. Of that great ravaging energy which had borne him on, of that fugitive and generating poetry of life, nothing was left now but the transparent truth which is the opposite of poetry. Of all the men he had carried inside himself, as every man does at the beginning of this life, of all those various rootless, mingling beings, he had created his life with consciousness, with courage. That was his whole happiness in living and dying.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Paradoxical title along with my own questions regarding happiness prompted me to read this novel.
The first half of the book is about an ordinary, poor clerk, who lives unconsciously indulging in a lonely, survival prone living. The major twist happens when he kills a rich handicapped man called Zagreb. Zagreb suggests to him that in order to be happy he needs to have money. Money is a way to have more time to develop 'well to happiness' in himself.
After the murder, he goes to different cities. F
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Regardless of the subject matter and sometimes how difficult it can be to understand or sympathize/empathize with his characters, Camus' writing style is just perfection. I read this thinking that because of the main character it would somehow be related to The Stranger (my favorite book) but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't. Similar themes exist here as in Camus other works but the writing. Wow. I'm always also in awe of how the translations can elicit the reactions I have. Usually, tr ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Ok, perhaps it's simply because I just read The Stranger yesterday, but this book seems to be a lesser version of that book, albeit with a more descriptive prose, and that's one of the best things about The Stranger, the non-descriptive, detached prose which forces us to see the world through the eyes of the main character.

Character names are recycled, events and a lot of descriptions are recycled. As I read, I keep double checking if I didn't accidentally pick up the wrong book. Sadly, I didn't
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
"I think of the lips I've kissed and the wretched child I was, and of the madness of life and the ambition that sometimes carries me away." (40)

"...for a long moment inhaled all the alien solitude the world could offer him."

"What mattered was to humble himself, to organize his heart to match the rhythm of the days instead of submitting their rhythm to the curve of human hopes."

"And to have accepted that solitude, to know that henceforth he was the master of all his days to come, filled him with
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Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. His origin in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work. Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in philosophy (only chance prevented him from pursuing a university care ...more
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