The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

by Albert Camus, Justin O'Brien

Paperback(Vintage Intenational Edition)

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Overview

One of the most influential works of this century, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays is a crucial exposition of existentialist thought. Influenced by works such as Don Juan and the novels of Kafka, these essays begin with a meditation on suicide; the question of living or not living in a universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Albert Camus brilliantly posits a way out of despair, reaffirming the value of personal existence, and the possibility of life lived with dignity and authenticity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679733737
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1991
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Vintage Intenational Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 74,105
Product dimensions: 5.22(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

Born in Algeria in 1913, Albert Camus published The Stranger—now one of the most widely read novels of this century—in 1942. Celebrated in intellectual circles, Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. On January 4, 1960, he was killed in a car accident.

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The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
P_S_Patrick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This certainly isn't dry philosophy, and it deals with big questions, but it is more a work of aesthetics than it is of metaphysics. The main theme is the absurdity of the human condition, God, (or the absence of God), and the meaning (or lack of meaning) of life. Camus discusses whether we ought to commit suicide, in light of our absurdity, or whether it is better to carry on living, and he reaches the conclusion that we needn't kill ourselves. Which is reassuring.I say this is more a work of aesthetics than metaphysics, despite the main theme being existence, for the reason that all the arguments are supported with judgements of value, rather than with rigorous logic. He says we ought to live so that we can make the most of the freedom which we would not have if we were dead, the sensations that are only available to the living, and the irony of knowingly living an absurd life. He uses the illustrations of Don Juan, and the actor, and talks about the characters of Dostoievsky and Kafka. But why classify a work, it is more than aesthetics, and metaphysics, it is art also. Not the completely rational type of art, but the type that tells us something about the artist. Apart from the main essay, the shorter ones at the end are about places he has been to, including Algiers and Oman, and they are very atmospheric. They fluctuate between melancholy and joy, and make me want to visit the places, though I wouldn't want to live in them. I don't necessarily agree with all of his views, but I think the main ones are sound enough. His philosophy seems to be self consistent, which is important, but I found it a touch vague.
MerleF More than 1 year ago
This is a specialized book, mostly for those interested in philosophy, French culture, and Camus the writer. I bought it as I had read more about Camus in Brave Genius by S B Carroll, a book about Camus and J. Monod, both Nobel Prize winners. Camus' Myth of Sisyphus is a major work by Camus, and the other essays in the book are interesting, but somewhat varied in importance, though they do reveal much about Camus' life.
TakeItOrLeaveIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
the absurd like 'woah'. Want to justify your suicide? read this!
jddunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This might be the best and most compelling pure read of any philosophical tome I've picked up. He manages to fit as much heavy lifting into 100-odd pages as people like Heidegger do in 800. Obviously he's less technical, but he's still grappling with pretty knotty stuff here. This is a sort of worst-case-scenario philosophy... he starts with the Absurd(the lack of external, eternal meaning to existence, coupled with the insatiable human desire for exactly that) and tries(and mostly succeeds) at building up reasons to live and create and so on from there. I don¿t necessarily agree with his premises, but I do identify, and am comforted by his ability to make something green appear, even in the desert of human thought. The other collected essays are quality litcrit and miscellany as well.
TheBentley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think Camus's philosophy only works when he's "preaching to the converted." For all his talk of basing his philosophy only on what is clearly evident to the senses, even he is not really capable of that, and there are places where the cracks in his logic are merely plastered over by his rhetoric. That said, I think the book would work better as a philosophical treatise if the order were inverted. The "travel" pieces that follow the main essay provide better, richer examples of his philosophy than the exemplars he chooses to support his argument in the main essay. Plus, they make excellent use of Camus' real strength, which is his eye for detail and his ability to give that detail larger meaning. In short, Camus is better as an essayist than he is as a philosopher. I would also argue that this particular translation is not as fluid as it could be, which makes challenging reading even more daunting.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was probably a waste of my time - I think this book consisting of a handful of essays by Camus should only be read when you're well-rested (which I haven't been with my work schedule for about two months). It probably would be better to read in a college classroom setting where you can bounce thoughts off peers (haven't been in that setting for over 9 years..) So, there may be good things going on here, but my head is too muddled for this level of philosophy at the moment.
Ramirez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Absurd is the distressing match between man's interrogation on his ultimate questions and the silent universe.Camus said that man must mantain this match, for closing it would be an escape or a liberation.Though, it doesn't seem a great solution to me.Sartre instead said that the only way to get rid of anguish was to realize that it's up to us to shape ourselves and to be responsible of our choices; compared to that, Camus' cure sounds like a dead end (and a way to -having therfore analyzed the absurd condition- assimilate it).But what if man's question was wrong?Douglas Adams docet.
uh8myzen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Camus is first and foremost a writer, which makes all of his work, fiction and otherwise, extremely accessible. The Myth of Sisyphus is a perfect example of this. For me, it is also, by far and away, one of the cleanest and most down to earth descriptions of French existentialist philosophy available. It gets right down to the point of it all. How do you define your existence and purpose in a world without Gods or eternal truth? Why should you go on if there is no transcendent purpose or divine meaning?In this essay, Camus expertly sets forth his vision of humanity's divine purpose and counters any claim that would cite suicide as the only option available in a meaningless world. To do so, he utilizes a story from Greek mythology which is that of the cursed Sisyphus.I first read this work in high school, when I was first faced with a sense of my own insignificance in a meaningless existence, and by the end, I found myself thoroughly empowered by the essence of his argument. Since that time, I have repeatedly gone back to it, each time reveling in Camus' masterful arguments and beautiful language.This is a must read for anyone interested in existentialism or philosophy in general, and in my opinion is easily one of the most accessible works in the philosophical canon.
WilfGehlen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Camus opens with the famous line, There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. But this book is not about suicide as we usually think of it. Camus is restating Hamlet's soliloquy, To be or not to be--that is the question... Camus' answer: the point is to live. This is all about logical suicide, not suicide connected with emotional distress or noble causes.Finding no evidence of a transcendent "meaning of life," Camus asserts: It was previously a question of finding out whether or not life had to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the contrary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.That is, don't look to an Ultimate Cause to justify your life and your actions. Embrace the freedom to choose for yourself, but also take the responsibility of choice on yourself.Camus: Everything is permitted, exclaims Ivan Karamazov, which smacks of the absurd. But, "Everything is permitted" does not mean that nothing is forbidden. The absurd merely confers an equivalence on the consequences of those actions. A mind imbued with the absurd [...] is ready to pay up.The Myth of Sisyphus is Camus' single expository work of philosophy. He is more prolific, and generally more successful in exploring his philosophy, in his novels and dramatic works. MS is a difficult read, but gives back according to the measure of effort the reader provides. It works well as an adjunct to Camus' fiction to reveal a greater truth than can be found in a logical development of facts.
AdamZ1 More than 1 year ago
Anyone wishing to better understand Camus' novels would do well to read this book, as it is a sort of precursor to them. If one hasn't read any Camus before, I would recommend skipping this book and going straight to his novel, THE PLAGUE, then coming back to this book afterward.
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Israel5 More than 1 year ago
A philosopher said: "I have thought about 3 seconds in deep thought each year. And nothing more." This must be true of Camus. He must have spent several seconds thinking of the absurd. And this is monstrous more than the average thinker. We on the other hand think of one tenth of a second in deep thought in his entire life. Because, this philosophical work burns. And one can not touch it for too long. Sisyphus was punished by the gods and commanded to carry a huge rock up a mountain, then let it drop back, repeat again... This book is supposed to be about suicide, and it is. Life was equated to Sisyphus' absurd punishment. And we ask ourselves then why do we live at all? But it is also about: atheism and Reason. My favorite quote from the book:"Reflection on suicide gives me an opportunity to raise the only problem to interest me: is there a logic to the point of death?" Leads me to the criticism of Reason. And this reason is the atheistic Reason. If one adhered to God "logic to the point of death?" The question will never arise. But the conclusion is not much of importance. "One must imagine Sisyphus happy." This is simple formalism. Life as a story, can end good, bad, and something else. Camus in this book chose "good" But truly the ending does not come at the end. "the happy Sisyphus". But rather in the middle of the work. "The proceeding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live."
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This essay is great! It makes you question yourself! I thought that it was well written with some amazing points! It is interest to see that some of the same social and economic problems that Sisyphus delt with still plagues us today. You're think by now, that some of these problems would have been solved. This essay was an eye opener, & true learning experience!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This short collection is an excellent way to introduce yourself to one of the most interesting writers and thinkers of the mid-20th century. Camus introduces his thoughts into the 'absurd' with both style and enlightenment. This work is a good foundation before reading other great works by Camus, such as The Stranger or The Fall.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Myth of Sisyphus gets right to the point. The problem is is suicide the answer to the absurd. If you are not familiar with Camus¿ definition of the absurd you will have to work a little harder to understand the problem and why the answer is no, suicide is not an answer. I am not giving away anything here as Camus gives the answer right in the preface. Read the preface. Read the book. If you are not sure, read it again. Camus presents evidence as he sees fit and writes lyrically, thus the book is dense and meandering at times. It is worth the trouble.