The Dynamics of the Absurd in the Existentialist Novel

The Dynamics of the Absurd in the Existentialist Novel

The Dynamics of the Absurd in the Existentialist Novel

The Dynamics of the Absurd in the Existentialist Novel

Synopsis

In 1942, the French author Albert Camus, in an essay titled The Myth of Sisyphus, wrote a comprehensive analysis of the absurd to explain his novel The Stranger. Using Camus's essay as a matrix for the absurd, this book is a rigorous examination of other contemporary existentialist writers and their novels: the French writer Jean-Paul Sartre provides us with his important absurdist text Nausea; the Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno, Mist; and the two American writers Richard Wright, Native Son and Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman. Since The Dynamics of the Absurd in the Existentialist Novel is a comparative study, different authors are invoked from various cultures to demonstrate the vast viability of Camus's criteria for the absurd and to determine the interpretive results which can be gleaned from its application.

Excerpt

Many existentialist writers in the twentieth century have defined the sense of the absurd: Miguel de Unamuno says it is the "tragic sense of life" ; JeanPaul Sartre calls it "nausea" ; Richard Wright perceives it as the shame, dread, and fear that minorities experience in a dominant racist society, causing them to feel dispossessed and disinherited, thereby living in a "No Man's Land" ; and Walker Percy defines it as "alienation," "everydayness," and "homelessness." In each instance it is the same dialectical experience of an individual trying to relate to an irrational world; and it is this way of existing, through a passionate choice, a revolt against any moral or metaphysical absolutes, and a total commitment to freedom, that becomes the focal point of existential thought. It is my intent in this book to explore the various characteristics of the absurd in order to better understand existentialist literature, especially the novel. In this way I hope to justify the matrix of the absurd, to project my thoughts and feelings into the reader's mind, until the reader has fully shared with me a world and an experience. All the novels contained in this book have these same attributes, and they all have one thing more: a flair for exhasuting the possible.

The most comprehensive essay written on the absurd is The Myth of Sisyphus byAlbert Camus. It was Camus's intention specifically to describe and analyze the feelings, notions, and consequences of the absurd in order to provide modern readers with a practical, working definition of this ambiguous term, coinciding with the ambiguity of our being-in-the-world. Camus deliberately defines the absurd as "the divorce between man and his life, the . . .

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