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Existentialism is a Humanism

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2007 | Jean-Paul Sartre

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A fresh translation of two seminal works of existentialism "To understand Jean-Paul Sartre is to understand something important about the present time."—Iris Murdoch "Sartre matters because so many fundamental points of his analysis of the human reality are right and true, and because their accuracy and veracity entail real consequences for our lives as individuals and in social groups."—Benedict O'Donohoe, Philosophy Now 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 Elkaïm-Sartre’s introduction and a Q&A with Sartre about his lecture.

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The Myth of Sisyphus

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2000 | Albert Camus

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The summation of the existentialist philosophy threaded throughout all his writing, Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus is translated by Justin O'Brien with an introduction by James Wood in Penguin Classics. In this profound and moving philosophical statement, Camus poses the fundamental question: is life worth living? If human existence holds no significance, what can keep us from suicide? As Camus argues, if there is no God to give meaning to our lives, humans must take on that purpose themselves. This is our 'absurd' task, like Sisyphus forever rolling his rock up a hill, as the inevitability of death constantly overshadows us. Written during the bleakest days of the Second World War, The Myth of Sisyphus (Le Mythe de Sisyphe) argues for an acceptance of reality that encompasses revolt, passion and, above all, liberty. This volume contains several other essays, including lyrical evocations of the sunlit cities of Algiers and Oran, the settings of his great novels The Outsider and The Plague. Albert Camus (1913-60) is the author of a number of best-selling and highly influential works, all of which are published by Penguin. They include The Fall, The Outsider and The First Man. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, Camus is remembered as one of the few writers to have shaped the intellectual climate of post-war France, but beyond that, his fame has been international. If you enjoyed The Myth of Sisyphus, you might like Camus' The Outsider, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'Camus could never cease to be one of the principal forces in our domain, nor to represent, in his own way, the history of France and of this century' Jean-Paul Sartre

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Meditations

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2006 | Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius,Marco Aurelio (Emperador de Roma),Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

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A leading translation of Stoic philosophy in wise and practical aphorisms that have inspired Bill Clinton, Ryan Holiday, Anna Kendrick and many more. Written in Greek by an intellectual Roman emperor without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a wide range of fascinating spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the leader struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. Spanning from doubt and despair to conviction and exaltation, they cover such diverse topics as the question of virtue, human rationality, the nature of the gods and the values of leadership. But while the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation, in developing his beliefs Marcus also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a series of wise and practical aphorisms that have been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and ordinary readers for almost two thousand years. To provide a full understanding of Aurelius's seminal work, this edition includes explanatory notes, a general index, an index of quotations, an index of names, and an introduction by Diskin Clay putting the work in its biographical, historical, and literary context, a chronology of Marcus Aurelius's life and career. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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