My book snob readers will rejoice: my first mention of classic literature. Foreign classic literature, to boot. Albert Camus is a much more “respectable” and “well known” writer than, say, Tamora Pierce.* So I hope that this post, in part, makes up for my defense of Twilight last Wednesday.
I’ll admit straight off the bat that my life had already been changed by the ideas present in L’Étranger before my AP Lit teacher assigned it. But I thought it would be important to include this book for the week for a couple reasons.
1. It cemented my personal philosophy regarding existentialism, and made the hugeness of that idea more accessible. I will expand on existentialism, don’t worry.
2. I loved this book, and asked for it for Christmas, even though I haven’t read it since. I just like having it there on my bookshelf.
3. I would feel a little bad about only including YA fiction books for this week. I’ll admit it; I’m still a little intimidated by book snobs and I want to appease them sometimes.
So onto existentialism. According to “AllAboutPhilosophy.com”, “Existentialism in the broader sense is a 20th century philosophy that is centered upon the analysis of existence and of the way humans find themselves existing in the world. The notion is that humans exist first and then each individual spends a lifetime changing their essence or nature.
In simpler terms, existentialism is a philosophy concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. The belief is that people are searching to find out who and what they are throughout life as they make choices based on their experiences, beliefs, and outlook. And personal choices become unique without the necessity of an objective form of truth. An existentialist believes that a person should be forced to choose and be responsible without the help of laws, ethnic rules, or traditions”
When I first learned about existentialism, I fell in love immediately. What a concise way to describe my own spiritual thoughts! I wholeheartedly believe that you don’t need anything supernatural in order to be moral, lawful, and a successful human being**. I love the idea that we have a responsibility to make our own destinies with what we have, instead of relying on other people or ancient doctrines.
The Stranger definitely strengthened my love of this philosophy, and helped me to understand it better. Existentialism is not inherently pessimistic, as some people believe. It’s about making sure that every decision you make is something you can live with and be happy with. It’s about fulfilling yourself as you see fit, and being content at the end of the day with the way you’re living. It’s about being happy and calm enough in the way you live to be able to die at any moment without feeling regret.
That’s what I really want out of life: I don’t want to be afraid of dying, or not having enough time. I want to be able to live in such a way that death is not something to fear, but something to accept as an inevitable occurrence. And when that inevitability is reached, I want to be completely happy with what I’ve done with my time here.
*I think I’ve made my opinions on “classic literature” snobs quite clear. I will refrain, then, from going on.
**Before I get a bunch of angered comments, CALM DOWN. I am not ragging on religion. Religion is a very good thing, it’s just not for me. I’m not saying that you SHOULDN’T or CAN’T have supernatural beliefs, I’m just saying you don’t HAVE to have them in order to be a good person.