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A Happy Death  By  cover art

A Happy Death

By: Albert Camus
Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
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Publisher's Summary

In his first novel, A Happy Death, written when he was in his early 20s and retrieved from his private papers following his death in 1960, Albert Camus laid the foundation for The Stranger, focusing in both works on an Algerian clerk who kills a man in cold blood. But he also revealed himself to an extent that he never would in his later fiction. For if A Happy Death is the study of a rule-bound being shattering the fetters of his existence, it is also a remarkably candid portrait of its author as a young man. 

As the novel follows the protagonist, Patrice Mersault, to his victim's house - and then, fleeing, in a journey that takes him through stages of exile, hedonism, privation, and death - it gives us a glimpse into the imagination of one of the great writers of the 20th century. For here is the young Camus himself, in love with the sea and sun, enraptured by women yet disdainful of romantic love, and already formulating the philosophy of action and moral responsibility that would make him central to the thought of our time.

©1971 Editions Gallimard (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about A Happy Death

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Camus Secret Masterpiece

If you love Camus's other novels, you will love this. Because it was published after Camus's death, people think it's just a rough draft to The Stranger... it most definitely is not. Although both have a murder in it, this explore totally different themes and the protagonists in both books are very different. At its heart, the novel is about a young man trying to find inner happiness, while The Stranger is about reacting to an absurd society. Do yourself a favor and read this book along with Camus's other work because it holds up with his best. Thank you audible for finally bringing us this burred gem!

10 people found this helpful

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Not My Favorite Camus

Amazing narration, story certainly meanders, but then, so does life I guess. A good ride through an existential crisis felt by someone afraid to truly face it until the bitter end.

2 people found this helpful

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Good read

Definitely not The Stranger but it wasn't supposed to be. Enjoyed reading it and helped add depth to the other Mersault.

2 people found this helpful

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WHAT'S THE POINT

Albert Camus’s short story is similar to Irvin Yalom’s book, “When Nietzsche Wept”. In "A Happy Death" Camus’ reveals the essence of an Absurdist’s view of life while Yalom reveals a Nihilist’s view of life. Yalom’s story is longer, more informative, and artistic but both stories clarify similarity and difference between an Absurdist' and Nihilist' view of life.

The answer to life for Camus is not that humans are Superman or Superwoman because there is no God, but that any human man or woman can choose, or not choose, to have purpose in life. Camus views the world as an absurd place where anything can happen but that does not mean one cannot choose a purpose in life.

Camus’s story about Absurdism only begins with a suicide. The person who plans his suicide has a gun to end his life but by someone he chooses. The choice is made by Camus's main character, a person wandering through life with no purpose. Camus's main character explains he lived a life that earned him two million dollars. It was earned with purpose, by any means necessary. His purpose in life is to become wealthy. He achieves that purpose, but now as an amputee, he feels he can no longer pursue that purpose. The main character of the story is given two million dollars to shoot the amputee and make it look like a suicide with a note written by the amputee.

It seems Camus believes it is better to be an Absurdist than a Nihilist. That puts a fine point on the question of suicide. A Nihilist like Nietzsche, presumably, would call one who commits suicide a coward. An Absurdist like Camus would suggest suicide is an option.

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Glad to Have Experienced It, but Disappointed

On the positive side, I think the book merits more positive than many of the critical reviews. It was a first and was not published until after Camus’ death, but it shows skill and has much to commend it in style, language, and plot development.

Having said that, I would concur, however, with the usual criticism that it isn’t up to his later and better works.

I don’t want to reveal the plot, so I’ll be careful here. I don’t buy the lesson Camus may be trying to teach us. But, then again, I’m not an existentialist. I do think, however, that certain alternative plot courses would’ve made me be more positively inclined.

The narration is good, but not 5 star.

If you need to see this powerful author at work early in life, by all means get it. If not, you could very easily take a pass.

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Interesting prequel to L’Étranger

Camus writes that Mersault, reflecting on his Life, sees it as a favorite book, but one written by someone else. This dual quality of his vision of himself seen from within and without is also present in The Stranger and is one that I found most valuable in that work as well.

Camus’ Existentialism has probably influenced my Life as much as any Philosophy I have known. A Happy Death has illuminated it even more. Four Stars ****