Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Happy Death

Being a member of a book group has many advantages, including introducing a breadth to your reading tastes, the opportunity to discuss a book you’ve just read with others in the same position and the informal discipline that the fortnightly cycle brings to your reading habits.

On the downside, sometimes you read books you really don’t like, or due to time pressures you find yourself rushing through a novel that really deserves more time.

A Happy Death by Albert Camus is little over one hundred pages in length, but it’s an intense, dense but well written read.

It deserves more than the time I was able to give to it.

Whilst there’s a lot to it, including the germination of some of Camus’ thinking and some beautifully written passages, it is still a deeply flawed novel in terms of structure, characterisation and the holding in tension of the narrative with the philosophical questions explored.

Much of the book (from character names and individual incidents) was rehashed and revised by Camus and used in The Outsider written a few years later.

The latter novel is far more successful and it’s perhaps understandable that Camus never published A Happy Death in his lifetime.

In summary, an interesting read, but if you were only going to read one of the two, I’d go with The Outsider.

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