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Thread: Recommendations: existential literature (an overview)

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    Recommendations: existential literature (an overview)

    Like many of you I find existentialism an interesting subject. Searching through these message boards I've found a lot of recommendation threads often listing the same authors, the big names in existential literature: Camus, Satre, Kafka, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, etc.. I've read some of their work and found it to be interesting, a little confusing here and there and even enjoyable at times.

    But what I'm looking for is a book that looks at the subject of existentialism as a whole. A book that examines the theories of the subject's main contributors. Not necessarily with the idea of trying to unify their views but rather to give a history of existentialism, its development and perhaps even its place in modern society.

    Any suggestions?
    Last edited by llall; 04-02-2013 at 03:36 AM.

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    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    I had such a book in college when I took a class on existentialism but I can't remember the title or author. I think there are a number of academic editions that combine an overview with several selections of excerpts from major authors.

    In more compact form there is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/existentialism/
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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    William Barrett's Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy for a start.

    Basic Writings of Existentialism, edited by Gordon Marino from Modern Library. This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but it's a pretty good anthology, which contains writings from most of the essential existentialist thinkers.



    I'd recommend both as an excellent introduction to existentialist thought.

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    The one book that springs to my mind is 'Six existentialist thinkers' but can't remember who wrote it

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    Quote Originally Posted by russellb View Post
    The one book that springs to my mind is 'Six existentialist thinkers' but can't remember who wrote it
    Harold John Blackham

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    as has been pointed out--Barrett's Irrational Man is key and really a very fascinating and clear read in itself.

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