March 6, 2007 at 8:16 pm (literature)



  1. geoff said,

    Hello everyone,
    Lately i’ve found myself fascinated by existentialism. Ive been reading a lot of Hermann Hesse, and to quote Dennis Hopper in FFC’s Apocalypse Now(which is based on my favorite Joseph Conrad work) “He’s expanded my mind man!”

    I was wondering if any one could refer, or recomend any existential works, or anything on absurdism, which has also sparked my interest and seems to follow in a similar vain to existentialism. I’m somewhat familar with works of Hesse and Camus, but feel free to elaborate on them.

    Any input would be greatly apreciated, whether it’s a novel, essay, or even a website (I hold the quality of your recomendations in higher regaurd than those of Google.) I apologize for my atrocious grammar, and ussage, I remain a diligens novice (my latin most deffinately needs some work also. Im new on the forums, and I hope im not wrong in assuming posting is not a formal affair.

    With all due sincerity,

  2. jean-baptiste said,

    Not a formal affair at all, geoff!
    Well, I’d like for you to read Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, and you can move on with his works from there, as he is considered The Father of Existentialism. It’s one of my favorites. Also, you should read Dostoevsky’s The Bothers Karamazov, because it’s great, and because it’s considered one of the most important Existentialist novels. Actually, here’s a link to something I found absolutely valuable: an entire lecture series on Existentialism, by a professor at Berkeley. You can download each session and listen. If nothing else, the list provides valuable titles on the topic.

    I hope this helps a bit. Existentialism is a very interesting way. Hope to see you around!

  3. geoff said,

    This is exactly the kind of help and reception I had hoped for. Thank you very much.

  4. soniarott said,

    Irrational Man by William Barrett is the best run-down of existentialism and its influence on literature that I’ve ever read. Highly recommended.

  5. virgil said,

    I agree. I don’t care for existentialism, but this was a good primer.

  6. zolk seth said,

    There is a lot of great existential literature out there-Dostoevsky’s works “Notes from the Underground”, “The Brothers Karamazov” and “Crime and Punishment” are all important works of literary existentialism, and are all forerunners of the existentialist movement which only really gained popularity in the 20th century, following on from the main existenalists of the 19th century, Kierkegaard (philosophy) and Dostoevskii (literature).

    I would reccommend reading Camus’s “The Stranger” alongside Moravia’s “The Conformist”-both books complement each other well. A lot of Kafka’s works, including “The Trial” and a lot of his short stories all have existentialist themes-Sartre’s “Nausea”, the works of Miguel de Unamuno, “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison are all important works of existentialism.

    The aforementioned texts are, of course, only a brief summation of the most important existentialist novels-after all, existentialism was one of the most influential and important intellectual movements of the previous century.

  7. ennilson said,

    Try Wilson’s brilliant book ‘The Outsider’

  8. ennilson said,

    a second suggestion. “The Stranger” – Camus. Read it!

  9. jean gabin said,

    You must read Sartre, Ionesco, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, and Samuel Becket (Murphy) the novel. Also from Becket…the trilogy; Molloy, Malone, the Unnamable. Sorry, my spelling sucks.

  10. soniarott said,

    indeed, it does

  11. thereau said,

    Camus’ philosophy isn’t pure existentialism but instead “absurdism”. I recommend “The Stranger”, but you’re better off with Sartre’s works.

  12. tuesday said,

    I strongly recommend “The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles. I think it’s worth reading just for the few lines describing the death of Port Moresby. I have yet to read a more intense description of how it must feel to die.

  13. reformed nihilist said,

    Since reading ‘The Outsider’ by Albert Camus, a book that got me hooked on existentialism; I have enjoyed reading existentialist novels by Dostoyevsky – particularly Crime & Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov & The Idiot. In each the main characters are defined by the way they exist in relation to others and the environment. Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ is a wonderful example of existential ideas, although very dark and haunting, i strongly recommend it.

    I am currently reading Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre…only half way through but clearly with this book he lives up to his reputation as one of the more important existential writers. I am interested to read more of both Camus and Sartre as they fell out over certain Marxist ideas running underneath thier literature.

  14. zolk seth said,

    Your reading might bring you from existentialism to a more rare genre called nihilism. Interesting stuff but I don’t want to live there. You might remember when Samuel Becket won the Nobel for Lit. He wrote a novel called “Murphy”. Now that IS interesting.

  15. reformed nihilist said,

    i agree with you

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