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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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    At the Existentialist Cafe by Sarah Bakewell

    Part history. Part biography. Part philosophy.

    Covers the history and development of 20th Century European existentialism from Sartre, De Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger etc

    An excellent read. Highly recommended.

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