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The Dynamics of the Absurd in the Existentialist Novel

Baker, Richard E.

The Dynamics of the Absurd in the Existentialist Novel

Series: American University Studies - Volume 31

Year of Publication: 1993

New York, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt/M., Paris, Wien, 1993. 152 pp.
ISBN 978-0-8204-2079-0 hardback  (Hardcover)

Weight: 0.360 kg, 0.794 lbs

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Book synopsis

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

About the author(s)/editor(s)

The Author: Richard E. Baker received his B.A. in English from San Diego State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the recipient of several scholarships and graduate fellowships. He is currently teaching English at Metropolitan State College of Denver.


«Written in a brash manner well suited to its subject matter, and refreshingly free from arcane critical jargon, this book provides a clear and straightforward 'existential' analysis of the five existential novelists it examines. Particularly valuable is its emphasis on Richard Wright's independent, experiential arrival at an existentialist position. Very useful as an exposition of existential literary thought for college and university libraries, and for intelligent non-academic readers who are interested in these authors.» (Alfred F. Boe, San Diego State University)
«In a remarkable rapprochement of philosophy and literature, Baker analyzes and then extends Camus's notion of the absurd to show its relevance to the work of novelists who have expressed the outlook of humanistic and religious existentialism. The much-mentioned, but seldom closely examined concept of absurdity is significantly illuminated; even readers already familiar with the novels considered will find a host of fresh and valuable insights.» (Hazel E. Barnes, University of Colorado at Boulder) «...it is a unique study allowing the reader truly to appreciate those major existential themes which have transcended, and still continue to transcend, time and culture in world literature.» (Alain D. Ranwez, The French Review)


American University Studies: Series 19, General Literature. Vol. 31