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The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) Mass Market Paperback – 25 Aug 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141023996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141023991
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 1 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a French writer and philosopher. Among his works are The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), The Fall (1956), and Exile and the Kingdom (1957). He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Albert Camus, who will not call himself a philosopher, who will not "sit on a judge's bench" here, in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, describes an "absurd sensitivity" he feels prevalent in this age. He is concerned with the principle that "for a man who does not cheat, what he believes to be true must determine his action." Consequently, how should someone, in finding the world absurd, find resource to continue in that world. Indeed, for Camus, "there is but one truly philosophical problem and that is suicide."

He clubs philosophers, scientists and religious acolytes together for their leap into construction and the world of their belief; "the leap does not represent an extreme danger, as Kierkegaard would have it. The danger, on the contrary, lies in the subtle instant that precedes the leap. Being able to remain in that dizzying crest - that is integrity and the rest is subterfuge."

Aware of the dangers of ignorance and enthusiasm, Camus propounds a life of self-exhaustion and permanent revolution, concerned not only with the quality of life, but with its quantity; "a man's rule of conduct and his scale of values have no meaning except through the quantity and variety of experiences he has been able to accumulate." But this is not a blank cheque for violence, "one must not be a dupe", it is the means for art to realise its ultimate importance; "the great work of art has less significance in itself than the ordeal that it demands of the man and the opportunity which it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality." Absurdity provides us with a justification for authentic creative effort.

Technically, Camus does not impress, as Sartre's or Heidegger's analyses do.
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Firstly, I think the central reasoning behind Absurdism is absolutely fantastic. I used to think I was an existentialist, but always felt it a little too earnest, or humourless, and leant too near Nihilism. To say Camus dresses this work in a cloak of impregnability, though being a little harsh, is true enough. If you are not totally familiar with either the ideologies or the language of philosophy, then this will be a hard read. It`s not a weighty tome, it`s a small paperback, a collection of various essays and short stories, and this version is smaller than A5. It does become more easy to follow as it progresses, perhaps as the reader becomes used to the style. Anyway, I take this from it:

Camus is acknowledging that logically, in a universe that man can never know the point of, suicide is the sensible option. We will never know why we are here, or if there is reason, so should stop looking now, and end it all. But that rather cuts short the chance of future fun, doesn`t it? Even the bleakest of days can have something to recommend them. As Dawkins wryly notes in "The God Delusion", a friend of his was "rather looking forward to a good lunch", for example. Personally, I wouldn`t want to die without hearing the new Van Halen album, or wondering if England can become the No.1 ranked cricket team (doubtless some of you have an answer to that one already). It might be taken out of our hands at any time anyway, so why rush things along?

A leap of faith might be the answer. Hmmm...not for me I`m afraid. Whilst blindly believing something contrary to all logic appears to be of comfort to billions worldwide, this is, Camus observes rightly, philosophical suicide. Ignoring all logic and reasoning and evidence cannot be easy to do.
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Format: Paperback
Camus's Le Mythe de Sisyphe written to accompany his 1st novel L'Etranger is a philosophy as a branch of literature rather than philosophy in itself.Camus never claimed(a la Sartre)to be a philosopher,he claimed a novel was a philosophy expressed with images.Just as reason is subservient to nostalgia,philosophy is subservient to art.This provides the ballast to his fictional works,with a felicity of style they share. We have the major essay The Myth of Sisyphus and the series of essays based upon places in Algeria,Summer in Algiers,The Minotaur,Helen'sExile and Return to Tipasa,where what concerns him is a passion for the present moment.Camus states he deals with a description,not a metaphysical belief,of an `intellectual malady',an absurd sensitivity citing certain contemporary thinkers,not a philosophy.Camus immediately states the meaning of life deals with the most urgent of questions.The only philosophical problem in an absurd world devoid of eternal values is suicide.We're all mortal,allcondemned to death,we must live in the present,for the here and now,not some imaginary future or other world.Is lifetherefore worth living?Suicide can be due to the ridiculous habits,gestures of existence,"a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights,man feels an alien, a stranger".One learns the truth about the absurd through everyday banal experience, that can hit you on the street corner.

Camus's aim is not to overcome a sense of alienation or separateness from the world. In The Outsider Meursault takes a defiant pleasure in this condition. Sisyphus, the `absurd hero', feels a `silent joy' in living in a world where `man feels an alien, a stranger...his exile...without remedy.
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