I think it's so wonderfully and beautifully put, but can't find the source, and am curious as to whether or not it's a genuine quotation.

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    "The one source that I have found for the quote is in Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice. He attributes it to Camus, but as I said before, I have failed to find the actual quote in any of Camus’ works, including the one which is most often implicated as it’s source, The Stranger. Notably, Schwartz does not offer a source for the quote, either... It does encapsulate much of Camus’ philosophy (the question of suicide is, after all, the foundation of his thought), but in the end, it almost certainly was not Camus who wrote it." Camus blog.
    – Conifold
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 1:40
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    How lamentable that this isn't Camus' words! How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?! 🤔
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Mar 15, 2023 at 13:05
  • I've just read a passage near the ending of Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground" that gave me the same feeling: "Is the world to go to pot, or am I to go without my tea?" Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 15:27

4 Answers 4


The quote is not Camus'. But, apparently, misquoting Camus, or even fabricating quotes is something of an enterprise. Gaetani even has papaer on it The noble art of misquoting Camus. They include "I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't, and die to find out there is", "Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend"; "Life is a sum of all your choices. So, what are you doing today?", "By your actions or your silence, you, too, enter the fray", and so on. Perhaps his style invites imitation.

This one comes from a fake letter of unclear origins, ironically signed "falsely yours":

"My dear, I don’t know what to do today, help me decide. Should I cut myself open and pour my heart on these pages? Or should I sit here and do nothing, nobody’s asking anything of me after all. Should I jump off the cliff that has my heart beating so and develop my wings on the way down? Or should I step back from the edge, and let the others deal with this thing called courage. Should I stare back at the existential abyss that haunts me so and try desperately to grab from it a sense of self? Or should I keep walking half-asleep, only half-looking at it every now and then in times in which I can’t help doing anything but? Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee? Falsely yours, Albert Camus’."

The quote spread over the internet from The Paradox of Choice by an American psychologist Barry Schwartz, and Al Gini's Why It's Hard To Be Good. Neither names any sources. A poster on fuckyeahcamus blog, who did extensive searches on it, including The Stranger, where it also is not, muses "As we know and is exemplified through the proliferation of quotes misattributed to minds like Gandhi or Einstein (“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree…”), the Internet loves to put words into the mouths of well-known intellectuals."

  • my favourite fabrication: 'Mother died today, or was it Father'. Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 6:05
  • It's one of his most famous quotes, that can be easily located in his published work.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 20:06

Sorry for the late answer

Indeed this quote does originate from Camus. In the first section of “A Happy Death”, the character Mersault stated this in conversation with the character of Zagreus, following with a consideration that it takes extraordinary courage to remain amongst the living as opposed to succumb to death.


"Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee? But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself."

-Camus, in A Happy Death

See discussion of his point here: was Camus right in saying 'There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.'?

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    Page reference, please :-) I've found only: Ch.IV: "Mersault répondit seulement : « Oui, je m'ennuie », et après temps se redressa [...] : « J'ai envie de me marier, de me suicider, ou de m'abonner à L'Illustration. Un geste désespéré, quoi.» " Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 9:52

“Sometimes there are days when you’d like to change places with him. But sometimes it takes more courage to live than to shoot yourself“. That is the actual quote by Mersault after he kills Zagreus. (From A Happy Death) The bastardization of the quote to add the coffee part is disappointing. Camus doesn’t need to be altered to be brilliant and applicable.

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