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Basic Writings of Existentialism

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  428 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Edited and with an Introduction by Gordon Marino

Basic Writings of Existentialism, unique to the Modern Library, presents the writings of key nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers broadly united by their belief that because life has no inherent meaning humans can discover, we must determine meaning for ourselves. This anthology brings together into one volume the most
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Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Modern Library
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Sarah Fulton
Mar 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who's Alive.
Kierkagard said that if we were to undermine living with our heart because we are too afraid of getting hurt, then the first thing to give up on should be love.

This idea was momentous to me in healing from heartbreak.... Never will I give up on love.
Rod
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a book that will lay out clearly what the philosophy of existentialism is, then this is not the book you're looking for. If, however, you want to wade through the words of the existentialists themsevles and decide for yourself what they're about, then this anthology presents wonderul material to consider. The works are grouped chronologically, giving an excellent view of the evolution of existentalist thought. It should be noted that a clear statment about what existentiali ...more
Miranda Brist
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I worked my way through about half of these--until I felt my own existential crisis coming on, and realized that reading about existentialism made it worse. But, I know this will get more of my time eventually.
Mary Overton
Kierkegaard, from "The Sickness unto Death":
There is a kind of despair in which the despairing person "not infrequently longs for solitude, which for him is a necessity of life, at times like the necessity to breathe, at other times like the necessity to sleep.... On the whole, the longing for solitude is a sign that there still is spirit in a person and is the measure of what spirit there is. 'Utterly superficial nonpersons and group-people' have so little longing for solitude that, like lovebi
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Logan
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, albeit mindbending (especially in the case of Kierkegaard's stuff) collection. Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr is one of the best stories I've ever read and earns the five stars alone, but the rest of the essays and stories are also excellent.

I wouldn't recommend it to people not heavily interested in philosophy, however. It's not an introductory text and does not contain explanatory material, like in a Norton paperback for example; Marino lets the texts speak for themselves, exc
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Deb
Jan 31, 2013 is currently reading it
I avoided reading Kierkegaard on the first time through, and that was a wise choice on my part. Thus far, he has bogged me down considerably, with his inability to sever his belief in the wholly unprovable supernatural. That he spends so much time on the teleological nut of Abraham and the almost-sacrifice of Isaac is a great example of one of the greatest wastes of philosophical ink of all time. That he entitled the work in which he tucked this labor "Fear and Trembling" was enough to make me a ...more
Jessica Zu
Aug 04, 2011 marked it as to-read
Heidegger is really difficult to translate. The author has done the best to balance clarity with authenticity. The selections of the essays are also very concise and representative. The author's forwards certainly make the reading process less strengueous by adding necessary socio-political contexts, cultural notes and scholarly take on difficult Heideggerian terms.
Eric
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read it for a class. Really interesting, and worth reading if you're into this sort of thing. It's not like a textbook or anything. It's doable. However, I do feel like if I wasn't learning the jargon in this book from the class, this book would've been much more difficult. There's a brief bio on each writer, but not any sort of explanation of the unique terms used by each philosopher, aside from when the philosopher themselves defines them (which doesn't always happen, or at least not clearly ...more
Priscilla Sotelo Klisch
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This selection provides a good general overview of existentialism and it's various themes. I picked this book up as a teenager and I've been interested in the topic ever since.
no_more_color
tl;dr version: Read the stories by Unamuno, Dostoevsky, and Ellison. The other selections are so abstract that their arguments are incomprehensible.

In this anthology's introduction, editor Gordon Marino says that the reader will be "shaking hands" with several prominent figures in the existentialist tradition. As I read the book, I felt like a blind man groping for their hands while Marino, in exasperation, screamed, "No, his hand is to your left! No, your other left!" I did not connect with Kie
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Maria Pantazopoulou
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is very rare to come across a book about philosophy that's a page-turner. Don't get me wrong, I love the field and have always been fascinated by it, but it requires a lot of effort more often than not. With this collection of writings, however, this was not the case. Maybe it has to do with the variety of voices and styles. Maybe it has to do with the fact that all the excerpts tried to grapple with the always relevant question about the meaning of life. I don't know. What I do know is that ...more
Gaze Santos
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it
The selections for this book are well chosen, but I would not recommend this book to the absolute beginner. I think that some prior knowledge of general philosophy is required to fully appreciate this book. Also, the introductions that the Editor wrote for each of the authors are good as biographical sketches, but they do a poor job of providing the context of the excerpted selection within the philosopher's work, and sometimes within the rest of the work it was taken from. This is especially no ...more
Androo
Dec 25, 2013 rated it liked it
An excellent collection of existentialist works with good translations. However, this edition is highly lacking in any sort of informative content outside of 2-3 page introductory biographies. The beginning student will find themselves either overwhelmed by the material or unable to ascertain exactly what makes these writings existential in nature if they haven't taken a class or privately studied this school of philosophical thought.

With no index to enable better reading and comparison of ideas
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Carina
Dec 22, 2011 is currently reading it
Shelves: never-finished
My university career started off with the reading of Sartre's Existentialism. It reinforced some of the views I held but then also made more sense. I can't forget Sartre. SUBJECTIVITY. Everything is subjective! There is a definite gray area in ethics, nothing is black and white. Man doesn't choose evil... it's what he thinks is right at that point in his life. What I want may not be what you want, so how can you tell me I'm wrong if you're not me?
We also read Unamuno's Saint Manuel Bueno, Marytr
...more
Monty Circus
Apr 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
"Basic Writings" my ass.

Sample quote:

"A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation's relating itself to itself."

If that seems coherent to you, then you'll love this book. As for myself, I somehow soldiered on another couple of hundred pages before giving up completely, and as a last ditch attempt at this subject, picked up "Existentialis
...more
Rabia
Jun 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is a really good introduction to existentialism. What I learned from it mainly was that existentialism reaches beyond the stereotype of "an athiest's philosophy." I do not think it is about that at all. Although I do not agree with many existentialists' points of view, it really broadened my horizons on different ways of thinking. I also found myself growing stronger in my own personal beliefs, in that I had to face them and define them for myself. I actually felt a lot more positive after ...more
Tricia
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was my first time reading passages from most of these existentialists. Some of them were hard to understand, but overall, the selection of writings provided a well thought out summary of existentialism. I liked the intros the editor provided, and I wouldn't have minded reading more from him and hearing his explanation of the importance of each piece. A great book! Reading it has tempted me to read more from these thinkers.
Lauren
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"I came to existentialism on my knees...in the cold withering grip of depression."

"Today orthodoxy has it that sudden physiological changes are chemical in nature, BUT there was time when we still believed that an idea, or your interpretation of an experience, could turn the page of that experience...there is nothing worse than thinking of you own emotional life as twaddle" Marino/Kierkegaard

Simply amazing...
EMM
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
"If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. Thus there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also only what he wills himself to be after this thrust toward existence."
- Jean-Paul Sarte
Jez Latham
Jul 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this. The editor gives a good intro to the topic and then we have an interesting selection from some of the top boys in the field. doestoevsky, kierkegaard, nietzche, camus, sartre etc and not forgetting simone de beauvoir. it made me realize the large degree existentialism has influenced the ideas of you, me and the postman.
Liesl
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm no expert on existentialism but I really enjoyed this volume. It seems like a good place to start. I particulary enjoyed reading the piece by Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo, an author I wasn't at all familiar with before.
Michael Ledezma
Mar 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Great introductory Kierkegaard section. The Heidegger selection was wholly inadequate as an introduction to his thought. Sartre was ok. De Beauvoir was a footnote. Could've done without the literary selections from Dostoevsky, de Unamuno, and Ralph Ellison, but that's just me.
Vrixton Phillips
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
I mean.... I got a D in the class, but I'm pretty sure I want to get a masters in Philosophy.
Best parts of the book:
-Kierkegaard
-Nietzsche
-Heidegger
-de Beauvoir
I want to say I read Sartre's essay, but I don't remember it at all
Ling Xuan
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing collection of essential existentialism works.
Brady Dale
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I want to read more Sartre and Jugo.
Joe
Jan 25, 2010 is currently reading it
For my Existential Meetup Group.
Jerome
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great, comprehensive overview of the philosophy of existentialism.
Kyle Brennan
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
An excellent collection of existentialist essays from some of the greats. Read Sartre, Kierkegaard, and Dostoyevsky, if nothing else.
Wuhan
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great collection.
Ellen
Jun 22, 2008 rated it liked it
It's a good primer or refresher if it's been a while since you read these writers, but in the end you'll just want to go buy the original texts and read them in their entirety.
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“existence precedes essence,” 0 likes
“Kant, the result of this universality is that the wild-man, the natural man, as well as the bourgeois, are circumscribed by the same definition and have the same basic qualities.” 0 likes
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