Goodreads Synopsis: In his first novel, A Happy Death, written when he was in his early twenties and retrieved from his private papers following his death in I960, 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 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
I decided to read this book because Alison Bechdel talks a little about it in her tragicomic Fun Home. She mentions a lot of books and I’m trying to read all of them, and this has definitely been my favorite.
“Like any other work of art, life needs to be thought about.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that I’ve loved from the first page, so it was a wonderful surprise to have that experience with A Happy Death. Right away I just really loved Camus’ writing style and his characters. The descriptions of places and the places that Patrice lives in are so vivid. I especially loved the scenes in summer when Patrice is with his friends just sitting in the sun all day.
I think what I loved most about this story is how much it made me think about so much. About life, about art, about love. It made me daydream about summer and what I wanted to do. I had so many strong emotions while walking through Patrice’s life. He’s such an interesting character. There were times when I perfectly understood him, and other times where the character completely baffled me. A Happy Death is definitely a book that I need to read again (and probably again after that).
And now I want to read everything I can by Albert Camus. I just want to devour his words. I saved so many quotes from just this one book, I can’t wait to read more. In the end I gave A Happy Death five stars on Goodreads.