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Summer Reading List

Aya
By Aya

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This reading list is dedicated to my brother, who is graduating this summer and soon being conscripted into the Cyprus army. These are the books I wish I read when I was your age; spanning existentialism, nihilism, and psychoanalysis through philosophy and literature. Here's to leaving school and learning for yourself.

The Stranger

Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus's extraordinary first novel, The Stranger (L'Etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers. Through this story of an ordinary man who unwittingly gets drawn into a senseless murder on a sun-drenched Algerian beach, Camus was exploring what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd." Now, in an illuminating new American translation (the only English version available for more than forty years was done by a British translator), the original intent of The Stranger is made more immediate, as Matthew Ward captures in exact and lucid language precisely what Camus said and how he said it, thus giving this haunting novel a new life for generations to come. Albert Camus, son of a working-class family, was born in Algeria in 1913. He spent the early years of his life in North Africa, where he worked at Various jobs -- in the weather bureau, in an automobile-accessory firm, in a shipping company -- to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. He then turned to journalism as a career. His report on the unhappy state of the Muslims of the Kabylie region aroused the Algerian government to action and brought him public notice. From 1935 to 1938 he ran the Theatre de L'Equipe, a theatrical company that produced plays by Malraux, Gide, Synge, Dostoevski, and others. During World War II he was one of the leading writers of the French Resistance and editor of Combat, then an important underground newspaper. Camus was always very active in the theater, and several of his plays have been published and produced. His fiction, including The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall, and Exile and the Kingdom; his philosophical essays, The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel; and his plays have assured his preeminent position in modern French letters. In 1957 Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His sudden death on January 4, 1960, cut short the career of one of the most important literary figures of the Western world when he was at the very summit of his powers.

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Existentialism Is a Humanism

It was to correct common misconceptions about his thought that Jean-Paul Sartre, the most dominent European intellectual of the post-World War II decades, accepted an invitation to speak on October 29, 1945, at the Club Maintenant in Paris. The unstated objective of his lecture ("Existentialism Is a Humanism") was to expound his philosophy as a form of "existentialism," a term much bandied about at the time. Sartre asserted that existentialism was essentially a doctrine for philosophers, though, ironically, he was about to make it accessible to a general audience. The published text of his lecture quickly became one of the bibles of existentialism and made Sartre an international celebrity. The idea of freedom occupies the center of Sartre's doctrine. Man, born into an empty, godless universe, is nothing to begin with. He creates his essence-his self, his being-through the choices he freely makes ("existence precedes essence"). Were it not for the contingency of his death, he would never end. Choosing to be this or that is to affirm the value of what we choose. In choosing, therefore, we commit not only ourselves but all of mankind. This book presents a new English translation of Sartre's 1945 lecture and his analysis of Camus's The Stranger, along with a discussion of these works by acclaimed Sartre biographer Annie Cohen-Solal. This edition is a translation of the 1996 French edition, which includes Arlette Elkaim-Sartre's introduction and a Q&A with Sartre about his lecture.

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On the Genealogy of Morality

This new edition is the product of a collaboration between a Germanist and a philosopher who is also a Nietzsche scholar. The translation strives not only to communicate a sense of Nietzsches style but also to convey his meaning accuratelyand thus to be an important advance on previous translations of this work. A superb set of notes ensures that Clark and Swensen's Genealogy will become the new edition of choice for classroom use.

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Civilization and Its Discontents

In Civilization and Its Discontents Freud extends and clarifies his analysis of religion; analyzes human unhappiness in contemporary civilization; ratifies the critical importance of the death drive theory; and contemplates the significance of guilt and conscience in everyday life. The result is Freud's most expansive work, one wherein he discusses mysticism, love, interpretation, narcissism, religion, happiness, technology, beauty, justice, work, the origin of civilization, phylogenetic development, Christianity, the Devil, communism, the sense of guilt, remorse, and ethics. A classic, important, accessible work, Freud reminds us again why we still read and debate his ideas today. Todd Dufresne's introduction expands on why, according to the late Freud, psychoanalysis is the key to understanding individual and collective realities or, better yet, collective truths. The Appendices include related writings by Freud, contemporary reviews, and scholarly responses from Marcuse, Rieff, and Ricoeur.

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