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One of the most influential works of this century, this 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 an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Camus posits a way out of despair, reaffirming One of the most influential works of this century, this 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 an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Camus posits a way out of despair, reaffirming the value of personal existence, and the possibility of life lived with dignity and authenticity.


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One of the most influential works of this century, this 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 an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Camus posits a way out of despair, reaffirming One of the most influential works of this century, this 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 an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Camus posits a way out of despair, reaffirming the value of personal existence, and the possibility of life lived with dignity and authenticity.

30 review for The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    Camus, as a writer, receives mixed response from the readers. It is understandable when some readers avoid reading him, because he seems a difficult writer whose works are taken to be disturbing. Some readers appreciate his writings though they do not agree with him. While for some, Camus’ ideas are irrelevant when compared with those proposed by existential philosophers. Although Camus is often categorized as an existential philosopher but he himself never approved of that. In one of his interv Camus, as a writer, receives mixed response from the readers. It is understandable when some readers avoid reading him, because he seems a difficult writer whose works are taken to be disturbing. Some readers appreciate his writings though they do not agree with him. While for some, Camus’ ideas are irrelevant when compared with those proposed by existential philosophers. Although Camus is often categorized as an existential philosopher but he himself never approved of that. In one of his interviews he said: “No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked. We have even thought of publishing a short statement in which the undersigned declare that they have nothing in common with each other and refuse to be held responsible for the debts they might respectively incur. It's a joke actually. Sartre and I published our books without exception before we had ever met. When we did get to know each other, it was to realise how much we differed. Sartre is an existentialist, and the only book of ideas that I have published, The Myth of Sisyphus, was directed against the so-called existentialist philosophers.”* When compared with different periods of his life, his writings offer an insight into the state of mind Camus was often fraught with. The penning of “The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus”, which he did almost simultaneously, came at a point when he himself faced despair about the kind of life he was living, which included his anxiety about his future as a writer and finding his place in the World. At this time he was in Algiers, his native land, far from the hubbub of Paris. His more mature works i.e. “The Rebel and The Plague” came later on where Rebel dealt with the problem of “murder” as against the problem of “suicide” which he dealt in The Myth of Sisyphus. We can notice the change in the focus of the writer, which turned from inner to outer, from individual to social. As he progressed from Sisyphus to the Rebel, he matured as a writer and later on himself felt annoyed at his proposed idea of absurd. He said: “This word “Absurd” has had an unhappy history and I confess that now it rather annoys me. When I analyzed the feeling of the Absurd in The Myth of Sisyphus, I was looking for a method and not a doctrine. I was practicing methodical doubt. I was trying to make a “tabula rasa,” on the basis of which it would then be possible to construct something. If we assume that nothing has any meaning, then we must conclude that the world is absurd. But does nothing have any meaning? I have never believed we could remain at this point.”** Now this is what keeps me in awe of the writer. He is one writer, who has never been afraid of opening his heart, his thoughts, anything which plagues his mind, before his readers, before this world. In that sense, he may be termed as a radical and approached with skepticism, but it cannot be ignored that the ideas he proposed came to influence the generation of writers engaged in the “works of absurd” e.g. Samuel Beckett who contributed significantly to the “theatre of Absurd”. The idea of repetition which he proposed with Sisyphus, which in turn was inspired by Kierkegaard’s Repitition, is witnessed significantly in the works of Beckett too. What is more, his ideas also, even now influence the readers like me in whose face the “why” of existence suddenly strikes one fine day. It wouldn’t be an overstatement or some form of fervent adherence to the writer if I admit that he inspired the mind to seek more and not be satisfied till the response unites the thought and the experience. He is not an easy writer to read, agreed, but his writings are not disturbing, specially if one gets to understand that his writing,in The Myth of Sisyphus, is a declaration of writer’s notion that the life must be lived fully in awareness of the absurdity of this World. In the Myth of Sisyphus, he terms the World as absurd because it doesn’t offer any answer to the question of existence, it being a silent spectator to the suffering of whole humanity. In a Universe, divested of meaning or illusions, a man feels a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. But does this situation dictate death? Camus ponders upon the problem of suicide and contemplates then whether suicide is the answer to this absurd world which doesn’t answer anything. He opines: In the face of such contradictions and obscurities must we conclude that there is no relationship between the opinion one has about life and the act one commits to leave it. Let us not exaggerate in this direction. In a man’s attachment to life there is something stronger than all the ills in the world. The body’s judgement is as good as the mind’s and the body shrinks from annihilation. We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us towards death, the body maintains its irreparable lead. And to kill one self means to allow both life and death to have dominion over one. Hence, the absurd doesn’t dictate death but calls for the awareness and rejection of death. It calls for living it with consciousness ----with revolt, freedom and passion. Neither religion, nor Science for that matter, provides answer to a questioning mind satisfactorily. While the former tends to imbue it with an idea of eternity; an extension of life in heaven, the latter merely tries to explain it by hypothesis. But Camus cannot believe either of them. Then turning to existential philosophers, he says that they “without exception suggest escape”. “Through an odd reasoning, starting out from the absurd over the ruins of reason, in a closed universe limited to the human, they deify what crushes them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them. That forced hope is religious in all of them.” To further explain this, he presents to us the ideas proposed by different philosophers. For example he says: Of Jasper: Jasper writes: “Does not the failure reveal, beyond any possible explanation and interpretation, not the absence but the existence of transcendence?” So that Jasper proposes the existence which cannot be defined as “unthinkable unity of the general” and the “inability to understand” as the existence which illuminates everything. Of Chestov: Chestov names the fundamental absurdity by saying: “This is God: we must rely on him even if he does not correspond to any of our rational categories.” For Chestov, reason is useless but there is something beyond reason, even if that something is indifferent to us. Of Kierkegaard: Kierkegaard calls for the third sacrifice required by Ignatius Loyola, the one in which God most rejoices: The sacrifice of the intellect. He says, ‘In his failure, the believer finds his triumph.’ Kierkegaard substitutes his cry of revolt for frantic adherence. Camus doesn’t agree with these philosophers, who did, all of them, tried to understand the absurd but finally gave into that which they found impossible to define. He calls their giving up as Philosophical suicide. He cannot believe in Jasper’s idea of Transcendence. In response to Chestov, he says ‘To an absurd mind reason is useless and there is nothing beyond reason.’ He chooses ‘despair’ instead of Kierkegaard’s frantic adherence. He says “I want everything to be explained to me or nothing.” So now when faced with absurd and being in consciousness, how best to live the life? Camus advocates the life of a seducer (Don Juanism) actor, conqueror or creator following the three consequences of absurd i.e. revolt, passion and freedom. By revolt, Camus means to keep the absurd alive by challenging the world anew every second. By Freedom, he means losing oneself in that bottomless certainty , feeling henceforth sufficiently removed from one’s own life to increase it and take a broad view of it. By passion, he means being aware of one’s life, one’s revolt, one’s freedom, and to the maximum. Though he praises the absurd man in a seducer, actor or conqueror, it was his stance on creator which I felt more inclined towards. He says: “Creating is living doubly. The groping, anxious quest of a Proust, his meticulous collecting of flowers, of wallpapers, and of anxieties, signifies nothing else.” Sisyphus Towards the end of this essay, he compares absurd with Sisyphus, who, according to the myth, was condemned to rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, only to see it rolling down back every time he reached the top. He says that though Sisyphus is well aware of his fate, of the continuous struggle he has to engage in, but he is still passionate about his life and doesn’t give up. It is during his descent, that Sisyphus’ silent joy is contained. Likewise, the absurd man, when he contemplates his torment, silences all the idols. In the universe suddenly restored to its silence, the myriad wondering little voices of the earth rise up. Unconscious, secret calls, invitations from all the faces, they are the necessary reverse and price of victory. There is no sun without shadow, and it is es-sential to know the night. The absurd man says yes and his effort will henceforth be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling. The other essays in the collection, Summer in Algiers, The stop in Oran, Helen’s Exile and Return to Tipasa are worth reading too. In Return to Tipasa, we observe Camus prevailed over by nostalgia for home, for his land. It is here that he says: In the direction of the ruins, as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but pock-marked stones and wormwood, trees and perfect columns in the transparence of the crystalline air. It seemed as if the morning were stabilized, the sun stopped for an incalculable moment. In this light and this silence, years of wrath and night melted slowly away. I listened to an almost forgotten sound within myself as if my heart, long stopped, were calmly beginning to beat again. And awake now, I recognized one by one the imperceptible sounds of which the silence was made up: the figured bass of the birds, the sea’s faint, brief sighs at the foot of the rocks, the vibration of the trees, the blind singing of the columns, the rustling of the wormwood plants, the furtive lizards. I heard that; I also listened to the happy torrents rising within me. It seemed to me that I had at last come to harbor, for a moment at least, and that henceforth that moment would be endless. What I realized reading these essays over again was that despite of being labelled as the proponent of absurd, it is actually living that he so fervently speaks about; Not just living but living passionately and fully. Living in awareness and questioning. Though he seems to be recommending a negative faith (as James Wood says in introduction) against the religious or existentialist ideologies, he nevertheless demonstrates a distinctive way to the seekers to come to terms with the existence; the way to be chosen henceforth, of course, depending upon the individual, starting every day with an ever new light. “In the middle of winter, I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.” ------------------------------------------------------- *From an interview with Jeanine Delpech, in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, (1945). Cited in Albert Camus: Lyrical and Critical Essays, Vintage (1970) ** From an interview with Gabriel d'Aubarède, in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, (1951). Cited in Albert Camus: Lyrical and Critical Essays, Vintage (1970) Source : http://www.camus-society.com/albert-c...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    "The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." One must definitely imagine Sisiphus a teacher. Teaching 15-year-olds every day is pretty much like pushing that boulder up the hill. One knows one has to do it, as the future of humanity depends on proper education. It is hard work that requires concentration, and one can never look the other way or take a break. In the evening, one is exhausted, and quite happy to see that stupid boulder "The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." One must definitely imagine Sisiphus a teacher. Teaching 15-year-olds every day is pretty much like pushing that boulder up the hill. One knows one has to do it, as the future of humanity depends on proper education. It is hard work that requires concentration, and one can never look the other way or take a break. In the evening, one is exhausted, and quite happy to see that stupid boulder roll all the way to the deepest depths of Hades. But tomorrow is another day, and Sisiphus sets out to roll that boulder up the hill again. One must imagine Sisiphus happy. Imagination, that means, is the main tool of any teacher. I say, looking at today's boulder catching speed down the hill. See you tomorrow!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the question of whether it is better to have no hope at all, or to be constantly confronted with dashed hope. There are certainly parts of my life that I have structured so as to ensure that I have no hope at all – that is, that I live my life in such a way that it is impossible for certain things to ever happen, and those are things that otherwise I would desire intensely – and in large part that is because ‘dashed hope’ was proving far One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the question of whether it is better to have no hope at all, or to be constantly confronted with dashed hope. There are certainly parts of my life that I have structured so as to ensure that I have no hope at all – that is, that I live my life in such a way that it is impossible for certain things to ever happen, and those are things that otherwise I would desire intensely – and in large part that is because ‘dashed hope’ was proving far too much for me to really live with. Now, that is part of the reason why I thought I would read this book. The myth of Sisyphus is surely one of the better examples of having to live constantly with dashed hope, and so I was hoping (all very ironic, when you think about it) that this book might provide some answers or guidance. This series of essays basically ends with Camus telling the story of the myth – which I found a bit unexpected, as I might have thought he would have started here. But in fact, this myth is sort of the punch line to the series of ideas he is discussing mostly related to suicide. His main point is the assertion that life is fundamentally absurd. We generally don’t recognise this absurdity – life presents patterns and ways of being that we enact, rather than think about, and so one day follows another. It is only when we pause and think ‘what is the point?’ that the real absurdity of life becomes overwhelming. It is for this reason that Camus says that the only real question of philosophy is ‘why do I not commit suicide?’ – this does seem a rather predictable response to the ‘it is all meaningless anyway’ problem. I think of this argument as being somewhat an argument with religion and so a sort of ‘first generation atheist’ problem. In the sense that religious people often say stuff like – ‘if life is so meaningless, why don’t you just kill yourself then?’ To which, I presume, the answer is, ‘five more minutes of stupid bloody questions like that and I might welcome it’. As an atheist who has never felt or even felt the need for eternal life, that level of ‘confronted meaningless of life’ has never really bothered me. The absurdity that Camus speaks of is, as he more or less admits himself, an abstract conception outside of the actual living of life. While we are living life, such absurdity is basically impossible to acknowledge – so, the answer, it seems, is just to get back to living life and shut up. Anyway, you have a great big rock and your task is to push it to the top of the mountain. You never quite get it there. It always rolls back down to the bottom. And on the trip back down the mountain to start pushing the rock back up again, surely you must say to yourself – ‘god, no, not this shit again…’ Which is part of the reason why this is a ‘punishment’. Camus’s response is to say that Sisyphus has to approach his task with a happy heart, despite knowing it is pointless, absurd, meaningless. It is his only refuge from suicide. Right. But, I’m not sure how well that would keep me from committing suicide, this sort of ‘whistle while you work’ idea. We are not told what reward Sisyphus has been promised if he were to get the rock to the top of the mountain. Presumably, Camus has decided that this is immaterial as Sisyphus would soon realise that was never going to happen. For this reason I find the myth of Tantalus more immediately confronting of the issues I actually want to grapple with. It is completely obvious what Tantalus desires – he is hungry and thirsty – and all around him there is food and drink. But he is never able to satisfy his hunger or thirst. He is surrounded by what he desires, and knows he has no hope of ever satisfying them. This is what I mean about the choice between no hope and dashed hope. For Tantalus, desire is all – but he constantly must live with his desires going unfulfilled, with his hopes being dashed. I don’t know that this is a sustainable way to live one’s life – when it becomes clear to me that my desires will be constantly dashed, that is one of the hardest things I can think of. I’ve worked in jobs as meaningless as Sisyphus’s, boredom I can cope with. Dashed desire is quite another matter. And so, I believe Tantalus is likely to seek to blind himself to his desires. I am not sure how successfully one is able to do this – desire and hope find ways to sneak in while we are unguarded, they find ways to tempt us, despite our will and our reason, but we are soon punished yet again for these hopes and desires in much the same way Tantalus was. As I said, I had hoped Camus would have discussed these issues – the issues of dashed hope and how to actually live with them. For Camus, Sisyphus is the most proletarian of the myths – something noted previously by Marx and Engels in relation to the meaninglessness of work under capitalist alienation of labour. If Sisyphus is a myth illuminating the horrors of capitalist production – surely Tantalus is the myth that does so for capitalist consumption. We are drowning in desires that can never be satisfied, and are never meant to be satisfied. And yet, we seem to constantly choose thwarted desire over abandoned hope every time – despite our repeated experience, despite the pain of that experience. Perhaps it is because we simply could not live in Dante’s hell – where all hope is abandoned – and so any alternative is preferable? If you do decide to read this, I recommend you notice when Camus talks about rocks – given what Sisyphus got up to in his day job, this talk of rocks is always something worth considering and worrying over, always worth noticing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Yuval

    Most of my friends will probably think I'm being sarcastic when I call this as good a "self-help" book as any I can imagine, but this essay honestly inspired in me an awe of human nature and its absurd indomitability. I think Camus gets a bad rap for being a cold, detached pessimist who only points out the meaninglessness of life again and again in his books. OK, he may indeed declare life "meaningless," but this book is passionately affirmative of life in the face of that void. Beginning as a r Most of my friends will probably think I'm being sarcastic when I call this as good a "self-help" book as any I can imagine, but this essay honestly inspired in me an awe of human nature and its absurd indomitability. I think Camus gets a bad rap for being a cold, detached pessimist who only points out the meaninglessness of life again and again in his books. OK, he may indeed declare life "meaningless," but this book is passionately affirmative of life in the face of that void. Beginning as a refutation of suicide, the essay encourages an embrace of the absurdity of life and the refutation of hope for a future life (or afterlife) as the only ways to live with any liberty or happiness. While I ultimately don't see eye to eye with all his thinking--and if you're at all religious, you should probably save your self the agitation of reading this--but viewing human nature and activity through his eyes in this book has been immensely rewarding.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    I still vividly remember my writing class in my first semester of college. Our professor was a lover of paradoxes. She had us read Kafka and Borges, whom none of us could understand. And she had a habit of asking impossible questions—such as “What does it mean to be infinitely finite?”—and savoring the uncomfortable silences that followed. Once, she even scared us half to death by asking one of these questions, and than yelping like a banshee half a minute later. Quite a good professor. The final I still vividly remember my writing class in my first semester of college. Our professor was a lover of paradoxes. She had us read Kafka and Borges, whom none of us could understand. And she had a habit of asking impossible questions—such as “What does it mean to be infinitely finite?”—and savoring the uncomfortable silences that followed. Once, she even scared us half to death by asking one of these questions, and than yelping like a banshee half a minute later. Quite a good professor. The final section of this iconic essay was among the readings she assigned. Of course I did not understand a word of it. I was no where near mature enough to wrap my mind around the idea of absurdism. The “meaning of life” was not a problem for me at that time. Surrounded as I was by thousands of potential friends and girlfriends—free for the first time in my life to do as I pleased—such a confrontation with nihilism was beyond the horizons of my mental life. This was not the case four years later, when I graduated college with thousands of dollars in debt, confronted with the possibility of deciding “Who I Wanted to Be.” Probably I should have read this book at that time, when I could so keenly feel the weight of life’s pointlessness. Or maybe I should have read it a year later, when I was working in an office job. Humankind has seldom plunged deeper into the void than in entry-level positions. I mention this biographical background because I think this book should likely not be read during a time of relative stability and contentedness, such as I am in now. We seldom pause to ponder the “meaning of life” when we are enjoying ourselves. The problem of “philosophical suicide” is not a problem at all on beautiful summer days. It is only a problem on cold, rainy Tuesday nights, in the few minutes of mental calm between work, chores, sleep, and work the next day. Unfortunately, such Tuesdays come all too often in this world of ours. My point is simply that I would have enjoyed this essay far more under more propitious circumstances. Albert Camus’s style is well-calculated to please: a winsome mixture of anecdote, philosophy, literary criticism, and poetry. Certainly it is a relief after dragging my way through Sartre’s tortured syntax and cumbersome verbiage. Camus, by contrast, is concise and stylish. My only reservation is that, for all his accessibility, Camus is not perfectly clear. I say this from the perspective of somebody trying to read his essay as a philosophical work. All philosophy consists in argument; and in order to accept or reject an argument, one must use clearly defined terms. With Camus, however, I was never quite sure what his criteria were for considering something absurd or meaningful—his two central categories. This is perhaps the wrong way to read Camus. What he was trying to create was arguably more in the tradition of wisdom literature than formal philosophy. From this perspective, the essay is somewhat more satisfying. However, here too I found Camus lacking. One extracts more piquant lessons in the art of life from Montaigne or La Rochefoucauld than from Camus. Where Camus excels these authors is not in wisdom per se, but in capturing a certain mood, a mood peculiar to modern times: being intellectually and spiritually adrift. After all of the traditional systems belief which underpinned life have crumbled, it is the crushing realization that one is unable to justify anything, even life itself. In this peculiar vein, Camus is difficult to beat. Even so, I wonder if this iconic essay adds anything essential to that famous remark of Pascal: “Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.” Camus’s Sisyphus is the twin brother of Pascal’s thinking reed—the plaything of an indifferent universe, and yet dignified by his consciousness. In his more despairing moments, Pascal may have been quite as horrified by the vast spectacle of an indifferent cosmos as Camus: “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.” The essential difference between these two men is not their realization of humanity’s insignificance, but their reactions. Pascal seeks to escape this conclusion any way he can, bolstering his faith with every fallacious argument under the sun. Camus was innovative in his insistence that we must calmly accept this situation, taking it as a starting point and not as a depressing conclusion. My main criticism with this essay is that, if life has no inherent meaning, and the universe is nothing but a cold expanse, this throws the question of the “meaning of life” back upon each individual. Answering that question definitively, for every person, becomes de facto impossible. But, again, perhaps Camus is not trying to prove anything universal. Rather, his essay is a sort of invitation to abandon the traditional justifications of life, and to focus, as Camus himself did, on the smaller joys—sunlight, the sea, travel. The rest of the essays in this collection may be seen in that light, as enlarging upon Camus’s omnivorous curiosity for his surroundings. What bothers me is that I do not agree with Camus’s opening assertion: I do not think the most pressing question is whether we should all just commit suicide. To the contrary, once this question is decided in the negative, it opens up a world of far more interesting issues.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynne King

    There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. Only Albert Camus, I believe, could have made that statement. I’ve tried many times over the years to accept philosophical reasoning by reading various books by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, H There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. Only Albert Camus, I believe, could have made that statement. I’ve tried many times over the years to accept philosophical reasoning by reading various books by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Husserl, Plato, etc. and the only individual I could equate to was Roger Scruton with his “Philosophy, an Introduction and Survey” with his own specific logic and in particular his views on God. It’s certainly not light reading, rather dry in fact, and looking at this book now I’m even beginning to wonder what I truly felt when I read this twenty years ago. I’ve always had a very high regard for Albert Camus since I first encountered his works at university. He has an extremely rich and elegant writing style, and yet he seems to open up his heart to the reader and his reasoning is invigorating. In fact I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his works in the past, especially The Stranger. Nevertheless I found it very hard to come to terms with The Myth of Sisyphus. It was the meditation on suicide that rather unnerved me. I really do not believe philosophers, unless they have contemplated suicide themselves, should air their opinions. That’s my personal view of course. If an individual wishes to end his/her life, be it for whatever reason, they have the choice. I feel sorry, however, for those individuals with dreadful terminal diseases who wish to end their lives and are unable to do so because of legal constraints. Anyway, linking absurdism with suicide was all too much for my psyche and she went into full revolt. Camus is indeed very persuasive but what I don’t understand is that he is supposedly discussing Absurdism and yet the cover on the back states that this is a book on Existentialism. I also thought that he was an Absurdist? In fact recently I’ve read so many articles regarding the above paragraph that I believe the following seems to be the closest that comes to my own way of thinking: The Algerian-born French thinker Albert Camus was one of the leading thinkers of Absurdism. He was actually a writer and novelist with a strong philosophical bent. Absurdism is an off-shoot of Existentialism and shares many of its characteristics. Camus himself was labelled as an ‘Existentialist’ in his own life, but he rejected this title.. So I pass from this section of the book which also covers Don Juan (rather interesting) onto Absurd Creation with Philosophy and Fiction, and to parts that are quite beyond my comprehension. I’m still in revolt. Here is an example: All those lives maintained in the rarefied air of the absurd could not persevere without some profound and constant thought to infuse its strength into them. Right here, it can be only a strange feeling of fidelity. Conscious men have been sent to fulfill their task amid the most stupid of wars without considering themselves in contradiction. This is because it was essential to elude nothing. There is thus a metaphysical honour in enduring the world’s absurdity. Conquest or play-acting, multiple loves, absurd revolt are tributes that man pays to his dignity in a campaign in which he is defeated in advance. I’m sure that many individuals will have no problem with interpreting the above-mentioned paragraph but I certainly did. There’s an excellent section on Dostoevsky and in fact even he discusses logical suicide in his Diary of a Writer. The individual that I really felt sorry for was Sisyphus who ceaselessly rolled a rock to the top of a mountain and then the stone would fall back on its own weight. It certainly doesn’t do to be condemned by the Gods and that’s for sure. In the Appendix to this section, hope and the absurd are discussed in the life of Franz Kafka and actually one of the best parts in The Myth of Sisyphus. I could never really understand Kafka’s reasoning until I read two excellent biographies about him. The following essays are excellent: Summer in Algiers The Minotaur or The Stop in Oran Helen’s Exile And indeed my favourite, “Return to Tipasa”. One really gets a sense here why Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957. I found that this essay talked to me and also resonated with me. It was so touching as he describes his feelings upon returning to the place of his childhood, Tipasa, Algeria after an absence of twenty years. I absolutely loved this and there is also a sense of place. This is Camus philosophizing at the highest level, after having lived through a horrific second world war by making comparisons between the two periods. Plus the descriptions are exquisite. I wanted to go to Tipasa myself when I read: At noon on the half-sandy slopes covered with heliotropes like a foam left by the furious waves of the last few days as they withdrew, I watched the sea barely swelling at that hour with an exhausted motion, and I satisfied the two thirsts one cannot long neglect without drying up – I mean loving and admiring. For there is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this misfortune. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamour in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice. This is why Europe hates daylight and is only able to set injustice up against injustice. But in order to keep justice from shrivelling up like a beautiful orange fruit containing nothing but a bitter, dry pulp, I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice and return to combat having won that light. Here I recaptured the former beauty, a young sky, and I measured my luck, realizing at last that in the worst years of our madness the memory of that sky had never left me. This was what in the end had kept me from despairing. The final essay, The Artist and His Time, consists of questions and answers of Camus’ views as an artist. An example: Is not the quixotism that has been criticized in your recent works an idealistic and romantic definition of the artist’s role? , and this was answered in a rather splendid way. In conclusion, I have my own philosophical views on life, as we all do and only I can choose what direction my life is going to take, be it with a certain amount of serendipitous luck thrown in along the way. This was not an easy book to read but still it is excellent and succeeded in bringing happiness and optimism to me for the future. And yes, I mustn't forget Rakhi. Do read her review below as it is excellent: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Yu

    Sisyphus must be humanism in its fiercest form, but is it as heroic as in Camus' idolization? Because there is no assured eternality and reason knows its limit, man is forced into the corner of absurdity. There are three available options: 1) Turn away from the absurd and leap into spiritual irrationality; 2) Commit suicide and kill one's self-consciousness which is the very source of the break between one and the world; 3) Keep the absurd alive, live unreconciled, revolt consciously, and scorn t Sisyphus must be humanism in its fiercest form, but is it as heroic as in Camus' idolization? Because there is no assured eternality and reason knows its limit, man is forced into the corner of absurdity. There are three available options: 1) Turn away from the absurd and leap into spiritual irrationality; 2) Commit suicide and kill one's self-consciousness which is the very source of the break between one and the world; 3) Keep the absurd alive, live unreconciled, revolt consciously, and scorn triumphantly. There is no unity between the man and the world, but there is a unity between man and his own crushing fate. It is the consciousness of this unity that fills a man's heart and makes Sisyphus happy. My main objection to Camus' humanism is that it's all consciousness and no action. As Dostoevsky's underground man shows us, mere consciousness doesn't make a man heroic. Yes one must imagine Sisyphus happy but that's just an imagination and in reality a submission to futility. Awareness of the superiority of one's personal fate should not be the final step. To end with a quote from Achilles in The Iliad: "Xanthos, why do you prophesy my death? This is not for you. I myself know well it is destined for me to die here far from my beloved father and mother. But for all that I will not stop till the Trojans have had enough of my fighting."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Okay, so the basic premise in this book is that there are two schools of thought involved with becoming conscious as a man. There is one in which you become conscious of God, accepting faith as the channel between this world and the next. Existence is a matter of order, one that is concrete and follows the compelling obligations towards the God whom you commit your faith. The other option is the absurd, for which this book is written. The problem asks is it possible not to commit suicide in a me Okay, so the basic premise in this book is that there are two schools of thought involved with becoming conscious as a man. There is one in which you become conscious of God, accepting faith as the channel between this world and the next. Existence is a matter of order, one that is concrete and follows the compelling obligations towards the God whom you commit your faith. The other option is the absurd, for which this book is written. The problem asks is it possible not to commit suicide in a meaningless world and without faith in God. The absurd man simply states, I and my plight are ephemeral, but I still choose life. Why? The comparison to Sisyphus is made through this absurd man. A man who is doomed by the gods to perpetually push a rock up a mountain which becomes steeper as it moves up. Eventually slope takes the better of the effort and as a matter of prescribed definition the rock falls down the hill; to which, the man, Sisyphus, must start again. The absurd man follows the archetype of the Sisyphus myth of which Camus says is “wanting to know,” and in wanting to know realizing that the whole of existence is a continuous repetition, nothing is gained nor loss; “the sin of which the absurd man can feel guilt and innocence.” This is not existentialism. It is presupposed in an existence without explanation that it is unreasonable to assume anything concrete. As Camus puts it, “the theme of the irrational, as it is conceived by the existentials, is reason becoming confused and escaping by negating itself.” He confines the absurd to, rather than negation, setting up a “lucid reasoning,” or playground for activity, and merely “noting limits” so that you are free to work within your living situation. It’s all about cheerful compliance. Realizing you’re in the situation and you’re damned to it. Fuck it. It’s not that I’m lost in this absent void of existence, with no telling of the future and no cause for impetus. I realize that there is a chance, be it strong or tiny, that there is a vastness far beyond the compelling straits of life that leave me wondering “what’s the difference?” If I do anything, I am compelled to the possibility of it not mattering. Camus was talking about a “lucid indifference” to this. Saying, I live it. It would be a crime to strip my life of the possibility of something. Even if I am a slave I can sing. I give up on morality, a legitimization of my actions that either says this, based on prescribed foundations “okays” it or disallows it. Really, the impetus is for responsibility. What I do in this life is directly reflected in this life. If I steal, then there is recourse. If I lie; but what if someone lies to me? I guess it’s the categorical imperative, but sans morality. Morality lines things within the sights of God, establishing guilt. What is guilt? It’s mindless, an obscenity. I feel guilt for not abiding to my addiction. Who can identify the real factions of guilt, who can identify its sincerity. It’s emotional. I’d rather be rational. I’d rather see that this whole circus, a great jibe of the floating, tender inevitability of death is but a contraption set for me to build and destroy and collect and decipher. Camus said, “for the absurd man it is not a matter of explaining and solving, but of experiencing and describing. Everything begins with lucid indifference.” I am in a state of despair. Anything that I do has no value. On the other hand, I am living and I am breathing and in a strange way I have a personal freedom unpronounced by most people who establish their own freedoms. All I have to do is have faith in my freedom and like a majesty that is lain out in silver robes before me, it is there. I only have to respect that I am living in a free slate, unmitigated by a stratified moral imperative that limits so many people from following intuition and there actual imperative needs. Do you believe in destiny? That we all have a purpose and it is designated by our need to imbibe the principles of our life into a system that we can identify for ourselves. There is that mode of philosophy that says that we are the people whom we are, we are meant to be these people, this specific type of person completely genuine to himself and totally as that self. My identity is the world surrounding me combusting into a single frame that I can represent justly by my merely living life as I should be doing it. I do not need to live up to this social strata of an impartial development towards nowhere, rather I should live life as I make fit, feeling good. Feeling established. So what if my endeavors are rooted to rolling a rock up a hill at least I have something to do, in the formation of my universe I need a place to put what is concrete, even if there is nothing concrete. As analogous creatures, if we do not have any basis to compare then we are no more capable of being thoughtful than a bar of soap. I’d rather be the dirt, simply abiding to my state of being, minus the will, minus the infirmity, I’d be an obstacle for the righteous, and standing in the way I could laugh at the adversity, laugh at the spectacle of my life so deranged in its absurdity. And at the last moment before my death, that is how I could acknowledge that I was alive. Or how I am still alive, whatever.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Albert Camus has captured the internal plight of much of the modern world. When a person begins to question his own monotonous reality, seeking to find meaning behind his daily motions of life and failing to find any at all, he comes to contemplate that void. Camus implies that if one were to honestly think about “nothing,” it would be the contemplation of the futility of most questions in life. He exemplifies the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. People lived and died in pursuit of t Albert Camus has captured the internal plight of much of the modern world. When a person begins to question his own monotonous reality, seeking to find meaning behind his daily motions of life and failing to find any at all, he comes to contemplate that void. Camus implies that if one were to honestly think about “nothing,” it would be the contemplation of the futility of most questions in life. He exemplifies the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. People lived and died in pursuit of that knowledge, and yet the question and answer alike do not matter, because we live in accordance to social structures and norms that are man-made and will one day be reformed, replaced, or blinked out of existence. The insignificance of human life in comparison to the infinite void of space and the abstract concept of time, which rules over humanity, is the notion which can manifest in the minds of men and bring about absurdity. He suggests that suicide amounts to a confession that life is not worth living. He links this confession to what he calls the "feeling of absurdity", that on the whole, we go through life with meaning and purpose, with a sense that we do things for good and profound reasons. Occasionally, however for some at least, we might come to see our daily lives dictated primarily by the forces of habit, thus bringing into question the following, if one feels that the embodiment of freedom is lost to a drone-like existence, all of our actions and reasons for them to a degree become pointless, with a feeling of absurdity linked to meaningless, meaningless to death by ones own hand. The book delves deep into "absurdity" a concept which is at the backbone to the book however is never fully explained with clarity. Definitely an essential book for those interested in nihilism as the alternative rather optimistic take on the concept is enlightening and on the contrary to common belief of the concept being parallel with pessimism. Camus in basic terms simply implies that we start to live before the habit of thinking on a deep level takes hold, thus avoiding the consequences of the meaningless nature of life, through what Camus calls an "act of eluding.", we choose not to think about the absurd because our nature is built on that of hopes and dreams for a meaningful life rather than face the consequences of staring into the void. One the main attributes used throughout his fiction, that of "exile" is also included heavily as a comparative for this essay. No one else but Camus could have wrote this work, as soon as you enter his world, the world around you becomes less apparent. Ending with with a discussion of the myth of Sisyphus to complete this work, who, according to the Greek myth, was punished for all eternity to roll a rock up a mountain only to have it roll back down to the bottom when he reaches the top. Sisyphus, the absurd hero, and his punishment are representative of the human condition, he must struggle perpetually and without hope of success. Says Camus, so long as he accepts that there is nothing more to life than this absurd struggle, then he can find happiness in it. A thought-provoking book, that is not a casual read, it's probably best suited to die-hard Camus fans, and those studying Existentialism or philosophy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    There was a part of me that really, really, really wanted to give this book 4 stars because of the way it made me think about life and consider and reconsider my own notions about the meaning we make in our worlds. It contained some really interested ideas regarding the philosophy of absurdism, which I would best describe as something of a happy medium between existentialism and nihilism, though I understand Camus himself might consider it nihilism's polar opposite. That said, I can't say I reall There was a part of me that really, really, really wanted to give this book 4 stars because of the way it made me think about life and consider and reconsider my own notions about the meaning we make in our worlds. It contained some really interested ideas regarding the philosophy of absurdism, which I would best describe as something of a happy medium between existentialism and nihilism, though I understand Camus himself might consider it nihilism's polar opposite. That said, I can't say I really liked it. There were some interesting ideas eloquently described, but Camus gets a little too bogged down in his own verbosity. Perhaps I'm shattering the windows of my own glass house when I say this, but his writing just seemed a bit too showy for me. It seemed as if he had things to say, very interesting, thought-provoking things to say, but he would rather dance around them with flowery language and arcane examples rather than just come out with them. In short, while I really enjoyed the ideas in this book, I simply can't say that I enjoyed this book. Camus had enough interesting sentiments to keep me going, but it definitely got to the point where it became a chore to read. When you find yourself questioning whether you should read the book you brought onto the T or the 'Metro', you know it's maybe not the most enthralling book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Helga

    O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible. - Pindar The Myth of Sisyphus is a collection of philosophical essays by Albert Camus, exploring the Philosophy of the Absurd and its correlation between humanity's craving to give meaning to life and the unreasonableness and futility of the universe. There is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. The title refers to Sisyphus from the Greek mythology, whom Zeus punished to forever rolling a rock O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible. - Pindar The Myth of Sisyphus is a collection of philosophical essays by Albert Camus, exploring the Philosophy of the Absurd and its correlation between humanity's craving to give meaning to life and the unreasonableness and futility of the universe. There is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. The title refers to Sisyphus from the Greek mythology, whom Zeus punished to forever rolling a rock up a hill in the depths of Hades, from which, the stone would fall back of its own weight.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Edita

    Likewise and during every day of an unillustrious life, time carries us. But a moment always comes when we have to carry it. We live on the future: “tomorrow,” “later on,” “when you have made your way,” “you will understand when you are old enough.” Such irrelevancies are wonderful, for, after all, it’s a matter of dying. Yet a day comes when a man notices or says that he is thirty. Thus he asserts his youth. But simultaneously he situates himself in relation to time. He takes his place in it. H Likewise and during every day of an unillustrious life, time carries us. But a moment always comes when we have to carry it. We live on the future: “tomorrow,” “later on,” “when you have made your way,” “you will understand when you are old enough.” Such irrelevancies are wonderful, for, after all, it’s a matter of dying. Yet a day comes when a man notices or says that he is thirty. Thus he asserts his youth. But simultaneously he situates himself in relation to time. He takes his place in it. He admits that he stands at a certain point on a curve that he acknowledges having to travel to its end. He belongs to time, and by the horror that seizes him, he recognizes his worst enemy. Tomorrow, he was longing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to reject it. That revolt of the flesh is the absurd. A step lower and strangeness creeps in: perceiving that the world is “dense,” sensing to what a degree a stone is foreign and irreducible to us, with what intensity nature or a landscape can negate us. At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman, and these hills, the softness of the sky, the outline of these trees at this very minute lose the illusory meaning with which we had clothed them, henceforth more remote than a lost paradise. The primitive hostility of the world rises up to face us across millennia, for a second we cease to understand it because for centuries we have understood in it solely the images and designs that we had at- tributed to it beforehand, because henceforth we lack the power to make use of that artifice. The world evades us because it becomes itself again. That stage scenery masked by habit becomes again what it is. It withdraws at a distance from us. Just as there are days when under the familial face of a woman, we see as a stranger her we had loved months or years ago, perhaps we shall come even to desire what suddenly leaves us so alone. But the time has not yet come. Just one thing: that denseness and that strangeness of the world is the absurd.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Ted

    The other essays included are interesting and I read them a few years ago with the titular essay (which remains as one of my favourite essays ever written). My review of Sisyphus alone is elsewhere for some reason, here. The other essays ("SUMMER IN ALGIERS", "THE MINOTAUR or THE STOP IN ORAN", "HELEN'S EXILE", "RETURN TO TIPASA" and "THE ARTIST AND HIS TIME") pale after the first. The latter essay was interesting to see Camus talk about the "artist"; the essay about Algiers is nostalgic and wel The other essays included are interesting and I read them a few years ago with the titular essay (which remains as one of my favourite essays ever written). My review of Sisyphus alone is elsewhere for some reason, here. The other essays ("SUMMER IN ALGIERS", "THE MINOTAUR or THE STOP IN ORAN", "HELEN'S EXILE", "RETURN TO TIPASA" and "THE ARTIST AND HIS TIME") pale after the first. The latter essay was interesting to see Camus talk about the "artist"; the essay about Algiers is nostalgic and well-written too, but then again, wouldn't we adore to read every writer on their homeland?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gorana

    Since it is 'the thing' nowadays to put lots of sparkly gifs and pics in a review, who am I to differ? "They bear away from their light, while their strict lord Death bids them to dance... and the rain washes, and cleanses the salt of their tears from their cheeks." Absurd enough. (view spoiler)[to be continued.. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["b Since it is 'the thing' nowadays to put lots of sparkly gifs and pics in a review, who am I to differ? "They bear away from their light, while their strict lord Death bids them to dance... and the rain washes, and cleanses the salt of their tears from their cheeks." Absurd enough. (view spoiler)[to be continued.. (hide spoiler)]

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    “Is one to die voluntarily or to hope in spite of everything?” I keep this book on me almost everywhere I go. Whenever I have 10 to 15 minutes to think I pull it out and find some marked passages and try to decipher them. It is difficult to put into words the profound effect MoS has had on me. It feels like colours are more vivid, the grass is green, the monotony is ever present but it passes into ambiguity as soon as I notice it. Life may have no meaning but that opens up so many doors. I may be m “Is one to die voluntarily or to hope in spite of everything?” I keep this book on me almost everywhere I go. Whenever I have 10 to 15 minutes to think I pull it out and find some marked passages and try to decipher them. It is difficult to put into words the profound effect MoS has had on me. It feels like colours are more vivid, the grass is green, the monotony is ever present but it passes into ambiguity as soon as I notice it. Life may have no meaning but that opens up so many doors. I may be missing the point of this book (I hope not; like I said it’s hard to put into words) but this is one of the books that have changed my world.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    It's been 20 years since I've read The Myth of Sisyphus. Although I've wanted to write a review about it ever since joining Goodreads I haven't, because I don't remember it very well. And yet, every time I go through my books-read list and I see it sitting there unreviewed, I get the urge to write one and then I remember that I don't know the book well enough, so I drop it. A few months later I repeat the cycle. It's sort of like pushing the proverbial boulder up the hill and having it roll back It's been 20 years since I've read The Myth of Sisyphus. Although I've wanted to write a review about it ever since joining Goodreads I haven't, because I don't remember it very well. And yet, every time I go through my books-read list and I see it sitting there unreviewed, I get the urge to write one and then I remember that I don't know the book well enough, so I drop it. A few months later I repeat the cycle. It's sort of like pushing the proverbial boulder up the hill and having it roll back down, and then trying again and again with the same result. Wish I could remember what this book was about...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    And that is indeed genius: the intelligence that knows its frontiers. Description: One of the most influential works of this century, this 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 an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. Opening: There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or i And that is indeed genius: the intelligence that knows its frontiers. Description: One of the most influential works of this century, this 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 an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. Opening: There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest—whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories—comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer. And if it is true, as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the importance of that reply, for it will precede the definitive act. These are facts the heart can feel; yet they call for careful study before they become clear to the intellect. Dipping into this as an aside to my current bedside read Nine Lives and that the Jains are in the news this week. So many high star results, so few words. Is that because no-one wishes to contemplate death? I was peeved to see there was little to console the half dead - those in coma, probable death by cancer, alzheimer's etc. For such a short entry, this should occupy the thinking person's mind for all lifespan. Nothing is inconsequential here. * Peregrinus Proteus (Greek: Περεγρινος Πρωτεύς Peregrinos Proteus; c. 95 – 165 AD) was a Greek Cynic philosopher, from Parium in Mysia. Leaving home at a young age, he first lived with the Christians in Palestine, before eventually being expelled from that community and adopting the life of a Cynic philosopher and eventually settling in Greece. He is most remembered for committing suicide by giving his own funeral oration and cremating himself on a funeral pyre at the Olympic Games in 165. wiki sourced - An Absurd Reasoning - The Absurd Man - Absurd Creation - The Myth of Sisyphus - Appendix: Hope And The Absurd In The Work Of Franz Kafka - Summer in Algiers: Opening: The loves we share with a city are often secret loves. Old walled towns like Paris, Prague, and even Florence are closed in on themselves and hence limit the world that belongs to them. But Algiers (together with certain other privileged places such as cities on the sea) opens to the sky like a mouth or a wound. In Algiers one loves the commonplaces: the sea at the end of every street, a certain volume of sunlight, the beauty of the race. And, as always, in that unashamed offering there is a secret fragrance. In Paris it is possible to be homesick for space and a beating of wings. Here at least man is gratified in every wish and, sure of his desires, can at last measure his possessions. - THE MINOTAUR, OR THE STOP IN ORAN - Helen's Exile - RETURN TO TIPASA - THE ARTIST AND HIS TIME

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Really beautiful and thoughtful essays about a post-God (or more accurately, post-afterlife, society). What to do with the absurdity of life and why live at all?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Arjun Ravichandran

    "The only serious philosophical problem is that of suicide. Everything else (whether the mind has 2 or 16 dimensions, whether the red I see is the red you see etc) are merely games." This is the starting-point for Camus' exploration ; life is absurd. It is absurd because human beings have search for reason, unity and meaning in a universe that has essentially none. Now that the absurd has been exposed, is life worth living? It is a fascinating and fundamental query that in the hands of a better "The only serious philosophical problem is that of suicide. Everything else (whether the mind has 2 or 16 dimensions, whether the red I see is the red you see etc) are merely games." This is the starting-point for Camus' exploration ; life is absurd. It is absurd because human beings have search for reason, unity and meaning in a universe that has essentially none. Now that the absurd has been exposed, is life worth living? It is a fascinating and fundamental query that in the hands of a better writer could have been really earth-shattering. But the problem is that Camus is the typical French intellectual ; in love with his own importance, name-dropping philosophers left and right who are tangential to his argument anyways, and needlessly verbose. And this kind of slipshod writing is absolute irresponsible ; because, existentialism is a revolt from the ineffectual abstractions of 'traditional philosophy' with its epistemology, logic, metaphysics etc. It was a philosophy deigned to return the focus solely on the human individual and his life ; to disregard the importance of his subject and write as if he was writing an advanced college-level course on modal logic, is a betrayal. Reading Camus, you wish for Nietzsche's prose. Now, there was a philosopher who could write. To be honest, the Sparknotes of this book do a much better job of conveying what the author is trying to say ; even the Wikipedia page is not that bad.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Colesberry

    Classic for a reason. This book is a tonic for any agnostic or cynic struggling with the whole meaning-of-life thing. Camus, in a way that I find totally satisfying, solves that problem without the standard religious cop-out of locating meaning outside this world. What is wrong with being Sisyphus? Is this a punishment or is this just what life is if you take you head out of the bubble for long enough to see the truth of things. My essential vision of life I more or less cribbed from Camus and S Classic for a reason. This book is a tonic for any agnostic or cynic struggling with the whole meaning-of-life thing. Camus, in a way that I find totally satisfying, solves that problem without the standard religious cop-out of locating meaning outside this world. What is wrong with being Sisyphus? Is this a punishment or is this just what life is if you take you head out of the bubble for long enough to see the truth of things. My essential vision of life I more or less cribbed from Camus and Sartre: it's an absurdist project that you can accept and live and love the living of it. What I appreciate about Camus in this series of essays is that he's more positive about the whole thing than Sartre, who is quite bleak.

  21. 5 out of 5

    cherrybracelets

    one must imagine sisyphus vibing

  22. 5 out of 5

    M.L. Rio

    Dense as hell but worth the effort.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara Sherra

    I have a problem with this book. If i wanted him to say: "The little boy waited at the bus stop for the bus to take him to school.", he would instead say: "The plump little boy over there, wearing blue jeans shorts and a green striped t-shirt is doing something. He is carrying a small backpack. Who knows what he has inside it. Some people carry backpacks filled with food, some with books and papers, some with clothes. Some backpacks are made of cotton, others of polyester, and other materials, of I have a problem with this book. If i wanted him to say: "The little boy waited at the bus stop for the bus to take him to school.", he would instead say: "The plump little boy over there, wearing blue jeans shorts and a green striped t-shirt is doing something. He is carrying a small backpack. Who knows what he has inside it. Some people carry backpacks filled with food, some with books and papers, some with clothes. Some backpacks are made of cotton, others of polyester, and other materials, of course. I prefer the cotton ones, they appear to be more durable, and are also easily thrown in with the laundry if needed. There is a bus coming. The bus is yellow and black, and seems to have words written on it. Come to think of it, is that really a bus? Not all that glitters is gold, so why should all that looks like a bus be a bus? Where does the bus lead? Is that little boy waiting for the bus? There seems to be a sign above the little boy's head, if one looks at it carefully he'll find words on it, too. It says: "bus stop". Why is the little boy standing at that sign? The bus has arrived. Did you know that a tomato is actually a fruit, not a vegetable? No? Not many people know that. Does the tomato even know that? Does the tomato care? I wonder if it is bothered by that fact. No one knows how a tomato started, and why it was sorted as a vegetable in the first place. I don't know why people still use it in their salad, and not in their fruit salad. I wonder how dictionaries define tomatoes now. We must check the Merriam-Webster dictionary to find out. The boy got on the bus, the bus which may or may not be a real bus, which has a destination. The little boy, too, has a destination, for what is life if you do not have one. He would be leading a very sad life if he didn't have one. What is life, anyway? I wonder if it means the same to me as it does to the little boy, going somewhere, on the yellow and black bus. I've seen many little boys carrying backpacks at this time of day going to schools, maybe that is where the little boy is going. I think that is where the little boy is going, with his little backpack."

  24. 5 out of 5

    muthuvel

    Painting attempt of mine for the sake of philosophical suicide dated 03.07.2018 It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm—this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the “why” arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. “Begins”—this is important. I wanted to read Painting attempt of mine for the sake of philosophical suicide dated 03.07.2018 It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm—this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the “why” arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. “Begins”—this is important. I wanted to read the book because i knew its about Suicide. Some personal and social events recently motivated me to read. And the book is a very difficult read for me, to be honest. Got a whole new experience of what it means to be "absurd". The Myth of Sisyphus totally hooked me up that it took me a whole night finishing it, pondering the perceptions of Camus taking many periodical stops during the journey. Not recommended for all. The Essay also includes the philosophical absurdities brought up by fellow philosophers like Kierkegaard, Husserl, Heidegger. Last time i remember reading a book of hardcore philosophy was from Robert Pirsig's Zen and And the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which is a couple of years ago. All of a sudden, i didn't expect such mind tiring evaluations and ideologies of various philosophers regarding the fate, meaning of life, stuffs like that, all of which Camus label as absurd. Living is keeping the absurd alive. Keeping it alive is, above all, contemplating it. He also intends in elaborating his personal views on Love, Fame, some highly held beliefs (other absurdities) that stir up suicidal notions when broken and beyond mending up. A Book that ought to be read and ponder the stuffs out of it by every serious readers. He's going to be listed in my favorite writers, i sense that.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ananya Ghosh

    This edition of the book has 5 additional essays. I will mention them first before importing my review of the title essay from the other edition. In ‘Summer in Algiers’ , 23 year old Camus writes about his home town, Algiers, Algeria. ‘The Minotaur or The Stop in Oran’ and ‘Return to Tipasa’ are again his observations on two other different cities of Algeria, Oran and Tipasa. Now these are the kind of essays that one reads, out of curiosity or compulsion, when their crush or spouse (respectivel This edition of the book has 5 additional essays. I will mention them first before importing my review of the title essay from the other edition. In ‘Summer in Algiers’ , 23 year old Camus writes about his home town, Algiers, Algeria. ‘The Minotaur or The Stop in Oran’ and ‘Return to Tipasa’ are again his observations on two other different cities of Algeria, Oran and Tipasa. Now these are the kind of essays that one reads, out of curiosity or compulsion, when their crush or spouse (respectively) writes. I must say I was very bored reading them. My highlight from these essays is the line in ‘The Minotaur or The Stop in Oran’ where he writes, “There are no more deserts. There are no more islands. Yet there is a need for them. In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion; in order to serve men better, one has to hold them at a distance for a time. But where can one find the solitude necessary to vigour, the deep breath in which the mind collects itself and courage gauges its strength? There remain big cities. Simply, certain conditions are required.”. I, as any other lover of solitude, agree to this. Though I have heavily highlighted ‘Helen’s exile’ where Camus writes on the way ancient Greeks have enforced limits but the context of this essay is not very clear to me. ‘The Artist and his time’ , which is an interview of Camus on life of an artist and politics, is the best of these five essays. The Myth of Sisyphus In this essay, Camus introduces the philosophy of absurdism. Absurdism can be defined as the conflict that humans face in attempting to find meaning in an inherently meaningless world. Why is this attempt to search for meaning absurd? Camus explains it with the position of the “man armed only with a sword attack a group of machine-guns". Similar is the situation of the individual who searches for meaning in the irrational universe. Human nature, bound by its consciousness, wants to give meaning to everything. It wants to seek an absolute. In that endeavour to add meaning to our lives, we tell ourselves stories. It keeps us in the comfort zone. But when we face the absurd, we are stripped naked of all stories. "Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable". And here arise the question of suicide. If nothing has meaning and death ends everything we do, what's the point in living? Why not kill oneself? Through his intellectual enquiry, Camus concludes that even in a meaningless world and if one doesn't believe in God, suicide is not an legitimate option. Even when none of the experiences matter ultimately, it is the acceptance of the meaninglessness that liberates the absurdist. The absurdist is not concerned with finding meaning or creating a story by escaping through the route of faith and hope. The title of the essay is based on the Greek mythological character Sisyphus, who is doomed for eternity to roll a rock to the top of the hill, only to watch it fall back down. Camus suggests that Sisyphus must be happy. He is the absurd hero because he has accepted that there is no grand purpose to his toil apart from the toil itself. Another concept that the absurd philosophy talks about is the rejection of an afterlife. For the absurdist works with what she knows and she is not certain of the afterlife. So instead of hoping to live a glorious afterlife, which many religious texts propagate, the absurdist focuses on experiencing the present life to maximum. How to live life to the maximum? Absurdism suggests one to have "greatest quantity of experiences" with the awareness of the fact that nothing matters. One may question that as nothing matters, why at all tread the virtuous path? Camus writes, "Everything is permitted does not mean that nothing is forbidden.” “It does not recommend crime, for this would be childish”. Though the absurd person may not necessarily reject the idea of Higher Power but she would say that she can work only within the limits of what she knows and she doesn't know if any Higher Power exists. She is aware that if she continues to live in the hope of the higher meaning, she will miss the experience that the present has to offer. Camus establishes a beautiful philosophy in this essay, but he doesn't make it easy for the readers to grasp it. Some paragraphs in this essay have only added to the wrinkles on my face due to prolonged squinting. I’ve come across two Zen cartoons which I feel is relevant to the context of Camus’ ideas. Cartoon 1: The Search for Happiness http://www.chrismadden.co.uk/cartoon-... Cartoon 2: Zen Pencils: Less is More https://www.zenpencils.com/comic/69-b...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sharmilla

    “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental questions of philosophy.” I think that to most healthy individuals, the notion of resorting to suicide can be inconceivable. Humans are biological organisms like any other: evolutionarily geared towards survival, genetically hardwired with strong instincts for self-preservation. It's no secret that the topic of suicide makes us uneasy. Dea “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental questions of philosophy.” I think that to most healthy individuals, the notion of resorting to suicide can be inconceivable. Humans are biological organisms like any other: evolutionarily geared towards survival, genetically hardwired with strong instincts for self-preservation. It's no secret that the topic of suicide makes us uneasy. Death, the great and inevitable terminus of existence, has always had a way of invoking both intrigue and discomfort in us. Its looming inexorability makes staying alive feel like a moral imperative. How then might the phenomenon of suicide be explained? What drives anyone to consider killing themselves? Camus' answer to this question is what he calls the absurd - a conflict between man's search for meaning and the indifference of the universe. Most of the time, we tend to get through life without ever noticing the absurd. But then one day, out of the blue, we might find ourselves taking a good long look at the repetitive, futile, monotonous nature of existence. Everyday we wake up, we work, we sleep, and eventually we die. On a larger scale we also know that our presence here on earth is merely transitory, that everything we've strived for will cease to matter at some point in time. All our monuments, technology, and scientific advancements will be swallowed up by the vast silence of eternity someday. And when we find ourselves becoming conscious of such things, we naturally think "Well, fuck.". So what do we do in the face of this terrible, soul-crushing truth? How are meant to grapple with the existential despair that accompanies our realization that everything is meaningless? How do we convince ourselves that life is even worth the trouble of living? Well, according to Camus, we might resort to committing one of two forms of suicide: physical or philosophical. "The absurd ends with death." When we kill ourselves, we are committing physical suicide. When we ascribe to religious ideas about there being some sort of higher purpose to which we are simply not privy, we are committing philosophical suicide. Either way, we are absolved of our need to confront the absurd and find meaning in our lives. Camus rejects both types of suicides, and instead of trying to escape the absurd, urges us to "revolt" against it. Because only by living in full awareness of the absurd can we be given the opportunity to truly make life beautiful. To give it the meaning that we decide to give it. Like Sisyphus, we are free to know ourselves as the master of our days. We keep pushing our boulders up the hill everyday, because each step along the way is a triumph; each step is a reminder of our choice to keep going, even when the odds seem stacked endlessly against us. “The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

  27. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena

    I'll admit that philosophy isn't my forte. I ventured into The Myth of Sisyphus because The Stranger was one of the books that shook me the most during my high school years, and left me wanting to read more of Camus. Several years later, I chose this book. This was a tough book to tackle. It took me almost six months to read its 153 pages. Camus talks about the absurdity of the human condition, where men task on and on as if death wasn't a certainty. Men require an explanation for life, but the I'll admit that philosophy isn't my forte. I ventured into The Myth of Sisyphus because The Stranger was one of the books that shook me the most during my high school years, and left me wanting to read more of Camus. Several years later, I chose this book. This was a tough book to tackle. It took me almost six months to read its 153 pages. Camus talks about the absurdity of the human condition, where men task on and on as if death wasn't a certainty. Men require an explanation for life, but the universe doesn't provide an answer. Men seek to solve this absurdity, and Camus asks: is the logical solution suicide? It is only when man is aware of this absurdity that he himself becomes absurd. This doesn't mean that he is hopeless or without joy. Sisyphus is able to find joy in his life when he grows consciousness, during his descent into his daily meaningless task, and takes his destiny for his own. Camus demands rebellion, creativity, and passion. I couldn't understand much of the text, which is rather disappointing (and places this in my "to read again" shelf). Therefore, here I end this review, for now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Abeer Abdullah

    the title essay is incredible, other essays come close, but arent as good. I feel That camus philosophy is actually incredibly optimistic because it draws a being who is totally aware of the futility of his own existence but non the less derives joy from it. Some days I relate heavily to camus, other days i prefer Schopenhauer's total pessimism. when it comes to their brands of 'existentialism' i have to say i prefer camus to sartre. sartre attaches too much power to human will, camus understands h the title essay is incredible, other essays come close, but arent as good. I feel That camus philosophy is actually incredibly optimistic because it draws a being who is totally aware of the futility of his own existence but non the less derives joy from it. Some days I relate heavily to camus, other days i prefer Schopenhauer's total pessimism. when it comes to their brands of 'existentialism' i have to say i prefer camus to sartre. sartre attaches too much power to human will, camus understands how helpless and powerless we truly are to the tyranny of not knowing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Divya

    "The Myth of Sisyphus" is Albert Camus' most engaging essay and almost a thesis statement of his philosphy. So what is his philosophy? From whatever I understood, it is the absurdist philosophy where sisyphus keeps rolling a stone to a mountain, once it reaches the peak it falls down, sisyphus follows the stone down and then again he rolls the stone back up ad infinitum. Sounds tiring just writing about it. It must be hell for sisyphus, except it isn't because he is lucid in his struggles. When "The Myth of Sisyphus" is Albert Camus' most engaging essay and almost a thesis statement of his philosphy. So what is his philosophy? From whatever I understood, it is the absurdist philosophy where sisyphus keeps rolling a stone to a mountain, once it reaches the peak it falls down, sisyphus follows the stone down and then again he rolls the stone back up ad infinitum. Sounds tiring just writing about it. It must be hell for sisyphus, except it isn't because he is lucid in his struggles. When he returns back to push the stone again he does so with full conscience and responsibility. This lucidity by itself is a source of nobility and comfort. Albert Camus starts his essay with the statement "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide" and he ends his essay by rejecting the notion of suicide and replacing it with individual revolt, quantity of life experiences and the extreme lucidity in the face of life and death. Also, it is a paean to artists and the power of creation. I am probably inadequate in explaining what Camus does in 140 odd pages but I am happy that I at least understood half of it. Would recommend it to anybody interested in philosophy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Suha

    Hot tomato soup with french delicious bread on a very cold rainy day. I read this book years ago and I found it hard to write a review, it is just too amazing to be able to talk about. But, here is an attempt. I first discovered Camus through his book The Fall, followed by The Stranger and then I read my first non-fiction of his "The Myth of Sisyphus". The novellas I read were like the feel of absurd, the smell of confusion and anxiety; whereas the myth of sisyphus came as the soothing philosoph Hot tomato soup with french delicious bread on a very cold rainy day. I read this book years ago and I found it hard to write a review, it is just too amazing to be able to talk about. But, here is an attempt. I first discovered Camus through his book The Fall, followed by The Stranger and then I read my first non-fiction of his "The Myth of Sisyphus". The novellas I read were like the feel of absurd, the smell of confusion and anxiety; whereas the myth of sisyphus came as the soothing philosophical explanation of this feel. The essays are mainly a thorough reflection of the absurdity of life and the assertion to overcome suicide. They are based on earlier beliefs of the fathers of existentalism such as Heidegger, Jaspers and Kierkegaard,... "You will never be happy to pursue the meaning of happiness, nor shall you live if you spend your life searching for a meaning in life", that was basically Camus' main philosophy of what I consider the manual of the sane to survive the absurd. What is the absurd? As I understood, the absurd is the umbrella of meaninglessness, it is the gap one gets to when one gets to reflect on the purpose and meaning of his life. Camus indicates that at a point in time, the absurd becomes too strong and we consider suicide, life becomes hollow, we lose our drive and motivation, and all days seem like a repetitive empty routine that will eventually get worse as the experience in our lives is always hit by events such as the loss of a loved one or war. At this point, facing the absurd (the question of why are things happening the way they are, why am I here, why is this so hard to understand, ...) we do consider the end (suicide) and this is exactly where we are in charge of taking it or leaving it. We tend to explain the world by our human means, by our own experiences and tools, but the closer we get to the truth the farther we are from understanding the world. For this reason, the solution proposed by camus might sound dark, but the way I see it, this is the only way towards freedom from this absurdity. Sisyphus here is the character Camus chose to display surviving the absurdity of life. Sisyphus, which was punished by the gods, is condemned to carry a big rock on his shoulders to the top of the mountain to watch it roll as he follows it, and then to carry it all over again. Forever. Camus believes that this is the human life. and all we can do is, to imagine Sisyphus happy, in other words, we must imagine that we are happy. In brief, we are across with the absurd most after working the whole day; we have to go to bed only to wake up the next day and do the same thing (even if we enjoy doing what we are doing). This is exactly like watching the rock falling down and Sisyphus getting ready to carry it and go up again. Suffering. Absurdity. The freedom is knowing this absurdity of this entire show, and imagining we're happy, Freedom is the imagination that we are happy; life is meaningless and there is no escape, we have to make what we can from it and leave with indifference. This is the liberation I gained from reading this book, and I hope this review encourages you to read it! I am aiming at re-reading it in French. So many quotes to share: "Rising, streetcars, four hours in the office or factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm - this path us easily followed most of the time. But one day the "why" arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. "Begins" - this is important." "Tomorrow, he was longing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to reject it. That revolt of the flesh is the absurd... Just one thing: that denseness and that strangeness of the world is the absurd." "From the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a passion, the most harrowing of all." "The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world." "He can then decide to accept such a universe and draw from it his strength, his refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation." "But what life means in such a universe? Nothing else for the moment but indifference to the future and a desire to use up everything that is given. Belief in the meaning of life always implies a scale of values, a choice, our preferences." "Thus I draw from the absurd three consequences, which are my revolt, my freedom and my passion." "But it is bad to stop, hard to be satisfied with a single way of seeing, to go without contradiction, perhaps the most subtle of all spiritual forces. The preceding merely defines a way of thinking. BUT THE POINT IS TO LIVE." ( had to capslock the last sentence) "If it were sufficient to love, things would be too easy. The more one loves, the stronger the absurd grows." "If the term "wise man" can be applied to the man who lives on what he has without speculating on what he has not, then they are wise men." "All Sisyphus silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him. His rock is his thing.... For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days." "Nature is still there, however. She contrasts her calm skies and her reasons with the madness of men."

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