Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
A Happy Death Paperback – August 29, 1995
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Original Language: French
From the Inside Flap
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 twentieth 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.
Translated from the French by Richard Howard
More About the AuthorsDiscover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.
Top Customer Reviews
In "The Stranger", Merseault kills an Arab for no apparent reason other than caprice or irritability. Merseault is then put on trial and condemned more for his flagrant aversion to bourgeois hypocrisy than for the crime he committed.
But in "A Happy Death", Merseault's crime had a clearer motive and a deeper symbolism. Merseault kills his crippled friend Zagreus in order to obtain his wealth and use it to transform his otherwise mundane life. In Greek mythology, Zagreus was torn apart by the Titans but Zeus was able to give his still beating heart to his daughter who later fathered Dinoysis, the god of wine. Zagreus literally means "torn apart" in Greek. The myth of Zagreaus is comparable to the role of Christ in the Christian tradition because Zagreus was mocked, tortured, and executed. But unlike Christ, Zagreaus escaped the final humiliation by having a substitute take his place.
Camus re-appropriates this legend in "A Happy Death". The wheelchair bound Zagreaus essentially prompts Merseault to murder him so that he can escape the humiliation of his infirmity and pass his wealth on to Merseault. There are subtle indications that the two men are inextricably bound to each other.Read more ›
The question that comes to mind then, is "Why did Camus never publish this work?" It seems that the book was a transitional writing for Camus. It allowed him to move forward from the life he had always thought about, to the life he believed he lived in, that being an "existential" existence.
In reading the book, one finds that Mersault, the protagonist, seems to have too many moments of happiness as compared to other protagonists in Camus' other publications. This in fact, is probably an autobiographical reflection of Camus' early life, and the book, a work to allow him to metamorphosize, transform his vision into what came next, "The Stranger."
The beauty of the novel is recognizing this transition and then, with such recognition, comes the ability to apply those thought patterns and feelings to Camus' later works, seeing how he transformed from a "regular" human being, to an "existentialist" one who has the feeling of being unique, and apart from others and the world around him.
The book gives valuable insight into Camus' mental process as he moves from where he was, to where he will go. For Camus readers, the book is truly a MUST. And for anyone with an interest in the "Existential" genre, it is truly an enlightening piece of literature.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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? Read more
This book, while no longer in my possession (gifted to a friend), will always be with me. Camus... absolute genius...Published 9 months ago by MRM
It was out of my expectation ,it was in a bad condition unfortunatelyPublished 10 months ago by Bita
This book is an existential contemplation about happiness and if we can achieve it. What is it that we need to be happy? Read morePublished 10 months ago by Sergiu Pobereznic (author)
I love Camus and I can see the emerging writer in this novel, but he definitely got much better with age.Published 12 months ago by Jeanajoan
Not sure why, but i love reading Camus. Many of his books are a must read, this is one of them.Published 14 months ago by Mark Anderson
Misleading. Specifically thought I was ordering the vintage paperback that was pictured as it goes well with the other editions of Camus's work that I have. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Trevor Tillman