Best Existential Fiction

Novels, novellas, short stories, plays
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51

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267 books · 473 voters · list created December 17th, 2008 by Ashley (votes) .
379 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Ashley 272 books
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Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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message 1: by jo (new)

jo i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!


message 2: by Vivian (new)

Vivian my favorite is richard wright's the outsider.


message 3: by Stef (new)

Stef Where's Milan Kundera on this list? Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment"? "Waiting for Godot"? "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead"? Etc...?


message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Nothing by Janne Teller


message 5: by Rob (new)

Rob Risimini When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom (an existential psychotherapist)


message 6: by Momina (new)

Momina Masood I really didn't know that The Alchemist could be called an existential fiction. o_0


Sentimental Surrealist I'd personally put Native Son on this list; it has so much in common with the Stranger that I'd be surprised if Camus wasn't drawing from Wright.


message 8: by Sara (new)

Sara Why on earth (and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong) are there so few female existential writers? Does the existential struggle not resonate as strongly with women? The women that do write in this genre are notoriously polarizing...

Any advice on women in this genre or men who write about the female experience?


message 9: by J. Matthew (new)

J. Matthew Why are there so many works of non-fiction on this list?

Where's the rest of Dostoyevsky? At least The Possessed...


message 10: by Florencia (new)

Florencia Good lord, The Alchemist is on this list...


message 11: by Susannah (new)

Susannah Bell I wonder if it's significant that so many of these have made brilliant movies.


message 12: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: 3 books removed.


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Removed 18 non-fiction titles.

As a general observation, this list is weakened by the fact that the list originator doesn't offer a definition of 'existentialist'. As a result, many of the books listed have only the vaguest connection to existentialism as it is commonly understood.


message 14: by J. Matthew (new)

J. Matthew Yay Paul! Very strong!


message 15: by Bamawalt84 (new)

Bamawalt84 I must say I am glad to see fight club on this list after not seeing any works by palahniuk on the list of best satirist novels. I am so sick of reading analyses of fight club that only focus on the homoerotic undertones or the critique of consumerism that I feel the movie made too prevalent and kind of missed the point of the novel. The character of tyler durden is existentialism and absurdism incarnate. Also, kudos on including bret easton ellis and cuckoo's nest, also absent from the best satires list. I can't say that I agree with on the road and tropic of cancer being included though. Those books are nothing but tasteless drivel. I never really noticed the existentialism in catcher in the rye before, hut it makes sense. The metaphor of holden wanting to save children from falling of a cliff as they play in a rye field while in reality he was the one who needed saving from himself perfectly sums up the futility that is the basis for absurdism. Great list! Really got me thinking.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!"
Stories of people interacting with their worlds from a experiential stance. Mostly with a 'working out their existence' feel, with emotional responses to angst, death, responsibility, loneliness and connectedness. Basically any story that makes you think of existence.


message 17: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!"
Stories of people intera..."

"Basically any story that makes you think of existence." Way too vague: this could be said of almost any book at all.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!"
Stories of ..."


Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!"
Stories of ..."


You're right. Suppose existentialism is an attempt to give life meaning without God.


message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Eric wrote: "Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!..."

Or more generally, an investigation of the meaning of life in the absence of authoritative rules and meanings supplied from outside the self. This allows for the possibility that, without God, life is actually 'meaningless', in the common-language sense of the term: any meaning it may seem to have being a provisional one that we have to supply for ourselves.

Another possibility would be to limit it historically: but then people would disagree on what was the first existentialist writing. Do we go back as far as Kierkegaard, or Dostoevsky, or Nietzsche, or Heidegger? Or do we have to wait for the term 'existentialism' to come into common use, with Sartre? And when does it become meaningless to speak of existentialism as a coherent movement? Sartre died in 1980: but many people would say that existentialism's creative period was already long in the past by that point, and essentially limited to the period 1929-1960.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentia..."
no Kierkegaard or Nietzche = no Satre. Philosophy or ways of thinking develop. I would think existential themes are mostly, like all other ideas, found in movies. Like some Coen brother movies. They use a lot of existential themes. It goes deeper than thinking and into feeling. Also, there is a lot of existentialism in therapy, thanks to Rollo May. But as a movement, probably that 1929-1960 mention, I think.


message 21: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: 1 book removed.


message 22: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: 1 book removed.

Also: one very obvious instance of spam. Please don't do this - nobody is fooled.


message 23: by Milan (new)

Milan Sara wrote: "Why on earth (and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong) are there so few female existential writers? Does the existential struggle not resonate as strongly with women? The women that do wri..." Honey, numbers are speaking... Homeless : 85% man, 15% - women, same in almost any other field. Calm down and read something good from any gender.


message 24: by Michael (last edited Jul 07, 2016 11:25AM) (new)

Michael Schiller Apart from searching the whole list, is there a way to know if you're adding a duplicate, before you add it?


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