Who wrote this book and when?
Albert Camus wrote this between 1936 and 1938 as his first work, but disliked it. It wasn’t published until 1972, after his death.

Has there been a film version?
I don’t believe so.

Who are the important characters?
Patrice Mersault – a man searching for true happiness
Roland Zagreus – a quadreplegic man who teaches Mersault about the will to happiness

What’s it about?
Mersault is a man who is bored with his life. His girlfriend bores him, his job bores him, and he can’t seem to find happiness anywhere. One day while following up on one of his girlfriend’s ex boyfriends, he meets Roland Zagreus. Zagreus is content and happy despite the fact he is a quadreplegic. He tells Mersault of the will to happiness. He explains that it takes lots of time, lots of money, and lots of willpower to find true happiness and contentedness in the world. Zagreus also shows Mersault his stockpile of money and an undated suicide note for when Zagreus gets tired of living. Mersault ends up shooting Zagreus, stealing the money, and traveling around Europe in search of happiness.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Because of it’s exquisite existential examination of life, happiness, and death.

Do you recommend I read this book?
Hmmm, I’d say some of Camus’ other works are better.

How did this book make your list?
I saw it on the library shelf.

Has it won any awards?
No.

Favorite quotes:
“In this neighborhood, the cafes were particularly lively. They gave off that herd warmth which is the last refuge against the terrors of solitude and its vague aspirations.” – p 51

“He marveled at the strange blindness by which men, though they are so alert to what changes in themselves, impose on their friends an image chosen for them once and for all. He was being judged by what he had been. Just as dogs don’t change character, men are dogs for one another.” – p 115

“At noon the wind dropped, the day split open like ripe fruit and trickled down the face of the world, a warm and choking juice in a sudden concert of cicadas.” – p 150

Anything else?
This is somewhat an autobiography and somewhat a precursor to the book “The Stranger” by Camus.

Personal thoughts:
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 novel, but I certainly enjoyed it.

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