The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

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The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays is a Books One of the most influential works of this century this is a crucial exposition of existentialist thought Influenced by works such as D

The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays is a Books . 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 tOne 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.. A viral Books The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays 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.”SisyphusTowards 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...
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About Author

  • Albert Camus Justin O'Brien Post author

    Albert Camus 1913 1960 was a representative of non metropolitan French literature His origin in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work Of semi proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in philosophy only chance prevented him from pursuing a university career in that field , he came to France at the age of twenty five The man and the times met Camus joined the resistance movement during the occupation and after the liberation was a columnist for the newspaper Combat But his journalistic activities had been chiefly a response to the demands of the time in 1947 Camus retired from political journalism and, besides writing his fiction and essays, was very active in the theatre as producer and playwright e.g Caligula, 1944 He also adapted plays by Calderon, Lope de Vega, Dino Buzzati, and Faulkner s Requiem for a Nun His love for the theatre may be traced back to his membership in L Equipe, an Algerian theatre group, whose collective creation R volte dans les Asturies 1934 was banned for political reasons.The essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe The Myth of Sisyphus , 1942, expounds Camus s notion of the absurd and of its acceptance with the total absence of hope, which has nothing to do with despair, a continual refusal, which must not be confused with renouncement and a conscious dissatisfaction Meursault, central character of L tranger The Stranger , 1942, illustrates much of this essay man as the nauseated victim of the absurd orthodoxy of habit, later when the young killer faces execution tempted by despair, hope, and salvation Dr Rieux of La Peste The Plague , 1947, who tirelessly attends the plague stricken citizens of Oran, enacts the revolt against a world of the absurd and of injustice, and confirms Camus s words We refuse to despair of mankind Without having the unreasonable ambition to save men, we still want to serve them Other well known works of Camus are La Chute The Fall , 1956, and L Exil et le royaume Exile and the Kingdom , 1957 His austere search for moral order found its aesthetic correlative in the classicism of his art He was a stylist of great purity and intense concentration and rationality.

One thought on “The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays


  • 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 h [...]


  • 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 mu [...]


  • 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 refutati [...]


  • 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, Pl [...]


  • One of the greatest opening lines of all time 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 Albert CamusTo be, or not to be that is the question Whether tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arro [...]


  • 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 meanin [...]


  • In Sisyphus Camus explores the great Greek myth to address Hamlet s ultimate question as to whether one should be or not be Camus scoffs at Kierkegaard who also addresses the plight of the Absurd Man, by which both thinkers understand the human condition today when faced with life in which it appears incomprehensible through pure reason Camus darkly adds that life is ultimately futile because mankind is powerless and after all life is simply an endless series of hardships, which symbolically ent [...]



  • 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 br br br br br br br br br br br br br br br br


  • 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 kn [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • H i i h c, c Sisyphus xong ch ng m nh hay a nhau h i Th Sisyphus ch i nh c g C l s nhe r ng ra c i xong g o l n Rock and roll Th y, Huy n tho i Sisyphus l c u chuy n nh m nh v anh ch ng s ng l n t ng l n nh n i, r i ng nh n n r i xu ng, r i nh t t h s n, v u ng c c bia, t m r a, i ng l y s c s ng mai l i ra l n c i h n n l n nh n i, r i l i ng nh n n r i xu ng r i m i vi c l i di n ra y chang ng y h m qua, c th ng y n y qua th ng n Cu c i v n d phi l th y, nh ng lao ng u tranh ra s c c l p y c t [...]


  • 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 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 the [...]


  • 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 wo [...]


  • Nu exist dec t o problem filosofic ntr adev r important sinuciderea A hot r dac viat merit sau nu tr it nseamn a r spunde la problema fundamental a filosofiei A a prive te Camus, iar ra ionamentul lui este destul de simplu dat fiind c problema crucial a filosofiei este aceea de a hot r dac viat merit sau nu tr it , nu are rost e absurd s mergi cu g ndirea mai departe De ce Pentru c , dac r spunsul dat ar fi nu , toate ra ionamentele ulterioare ar fi nule Asta n planul absurdului cotidian, ns Cam [...]


  • 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 or less cribbed from Camus and Sartre it [...]



  • 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 [...]



  • 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 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 d [...]


  • Over the past few weeks I ve found myself immersed in Sartre and Camus, beginning with Sartre s Existentialism is a Humanism and then rereading Sartre s essay on Camus and why reading The Myth of Sisyphus is essential if one is to properly understand The Stranger and rereading Camus The Stranger, and then finally reading the present work I think that The Myth of Sisyphus and for that matter the other essays in this collection, which Camus wrote prior to Sisyphus, but in which he plants the seeds [...]


  • 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 mot [...]


  • 08 19 2017 If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance Alan Watts.Th nh tho ng c s ch, c nh ng l c c m th y m t n m ch c n mua m t quy n s ch v ch c ng quy n th i c ng l qu M t ph n v kh ng mu n vi c c nh ng quy n kh c l m b n th n xao l ng v qu n i n i dung c a quy n s ch y u th ch l c m gi c c a m nh khi c The Myth of Sisyphus b n d ch ti ng Anh c a Justin O Brien b n d ch ti ng Vi t t b n g c ti ng Ph p Th n tho i Sisyphus [...]


  • In this philosophical essay, Camus presents and defends his philosophical school of thought entitled the philosophy of the absurd.The philosophy of the absurd asks about man s futile search for meaning in a world which it devoid of eternity He presupposes the question Does the realization of the absurdity of life mean suicide is the best option for mankind Throughout the essay, he comes to say that suicide is not the best option but revolt.This is seriously such a fascinating review of existenti [...]


  • The meaninglessness of life Sigh I think this is the true path to the wakening of the adult from the child This bubble bursting awareness that there really may be nothing else out there and that time marches us on toward our inevitable death Something about the myth at the end though was fairly reassuring I actually found some strange comfort in this.


  • At any streetcorner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face So, what does The Myth of Sisyphus have to say about absurdity and a universe devoid of any clear, evident meaning Quite a bit First, Camus rigorously defines the Absurd I said that the world is absurd, but I was too hasty The world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart The [...]


  • Absurdism a philosophy based on the belief that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe Merriam Webster The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays was a struggle to read through On some points,morbid and on others inspiring, the book was divided in three absurd themes the absurd reasoning, the absurd man and the absurd creation and the following remaining pages of the book were Camus essays about places Algiers, Tu [...]


  • 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 the sentences that Camus started his famous book the Myth of Sisyphus in 1942 Sisyphus was the ancient Greek mythological creatures After that Sisyphus, deceiving the gods, Zeus banished [...]


  • okay so um I say read the novels I mean maybe I m just stupid these days but this is not as good it seems to me that camus has a fundamental difficulty um carrying his own train of thought, he s far too all over the place for me here which made it almost impossible to follow the logic which made it impossible to stay engaged I m really debating stars I want to give it 2 cause I know what camus is capable of, but I also know the ideas that are found under this mess and when they surface they are [...]


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