Here is a reading list that illustrates my existential worldview. Since there have been no comments at this blog as yet, I don’t feel very guilty about this narcissistic exercise, since this entire blog has so far been a narcissistic exercise.
Paradise Lost, John Milton
A 17th century Puritan radical wrote an epic poem in which can be understood my existential worldview. Paradise Lost is in part about forced freedom: God makes it clear that Adam and Eve have free will to make their decisions, that they cannot evade this free will. Sartre wrote that we are condemned to be free, that we can’t choose to not be free. This seems to be the freedom that Milton presents in Paradise Lost. Satan, too, is a character wrought with existential implications.
The Brothers Karamozov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
One of the greatest novels ever written, in Karamozov Dostoevsky as created what Bakhtin calls the polyphonic novel. You get many voices, many ideas, many worldviews. For me the most compelling was Ivan Karamozov, whose “All is permitted” worldview betrays his deep desire for spiritual meaning. Ivan’s conversation with the devil should be required reading for anybody who wants to understand what the English teacher on “Freaks and Geeks” calls “an existential dilemma,” how one can be “both a nihilist and a moralist.”
The Magus, John Fowles
A fascinating novel about God and man, about art, and about freedom. It is a postmodern existential novel exploring individual freedom and responsibility.
The Age of Reason, Jean-Paul Sartre
In this novel, we see dramatized many of the important issues of Sartre’s existential philosophy.