Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes our freedom to be whatever we want to be. While that sounds liberating, it is also exhausting, as we are left constantly thinking and challenging ourselves about what we should be and how we should be it. If you're looking for an introduction to existentialism, a great place to start is Sarah Bakewell's book, At the Existentialist Cafe, which looks at some of the key existentialist thinkers (though they never used that term about themselves), including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus:
Below, you'll find all our book recommendation interviews relating to existentialism and existentialist thinkers:
Existentialist philosophy isn’t about bringing despair and angst into our lives, it’s about discovering our inner freedom, explains Sarah Bakewell, the author of At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails. She recommends books to learn more about existentialism.
Albert Camus was born in northern Algeria in extreme poverty, but went on to become one of the best-known French philosophers of the 20th century. In 1957, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature for illuminating “the problems of the human conscience in our times.” Here, Camus expert Jamie Lombardi talks us through the books that best capture his work and the moral dilemmas he sought to explore.
Simone de Beauvoir is remembered today as the pioneering feminist author of The Second Sex and a close companion of Jean Paul Sartre. But the scope of her intellectual contribution has long been underestimated, argues her latest biographer Kate Kirkpatrick, who offers an introduction to the landscape of Beauvoir’s works, from fiction to philosophy to life writing.
As questions of identity become a focus of political debate, interest in existentialism has been booming once more. Here, the philosopher Jonathan Webber discusses five classic books dealing with existentialist themes that deserve a bigger audience.