Existentialism in camus and kafka

We simply exist, as did Meursault. It becomes apparent, as the novella unfolds, that Meursault has acquired an animal like indifference towards society. His interactions with his neighbour Raymond are an example of his indifferences.

Existentialism in camus and kafka

If their endings, or lack of endings, seem to make sense at all, they will not do so immediately and not in unequivocal language. The reason for this is that the stories offer a wide variety of possible meanings without confirming any particular one of them.

This, in turn, is the result of Kafka's view — which he shares with many twentieth-century writers — that his own self is a parcel of perennially interacting forces lacking a stable core; if he should attain an approximation of objectivity, this can come about only by describing the world in symbolic language and from a number of different vantage points.

Thus a total view must inevitably remain inaccessible to him. Such a universe Existentialism in camus and kafka which nothing can be said that cannot at the same time — and just as plausibly — be contradicted has a certain ironic quality about it — ironic in the sense that each possible viewpoint becomes relativized.

Yet the overriding response one has is one of tragedy rather than irony as one watches Kafka's heroes trying to piece together the debris of their universe. Kafka's world is essentially chaotic, and this is why it is impossible to derive a specific philosophical or religious code from it — even one acknowledging chaos and paradox as does much existential thought.

Only the events themselves can reveal the basic absurdity of things. To reduce Kafka's symbols to their "real" meanings and to pigeonhole his world-view as some "ism" or other is to obscure his writing with just the kind of meaningless experience from which he liberated himself through his art.

Expressionism is one of the literary movements frequently mentioned in connection with Kafka, possibly because its vogue in literature coincided with Kafka's mature writing, between and his death in Of course, Kafka does have certain characteristics in common with expressionists, such as his criticism of the blindly scientific-technological world-view, for instance.

However, if we consider what he thought of some of the leading expressionists of his day, he certainly cannot be associated with the movement: To me, it merely proves the painter's inner chaos.

While Kafka was perhaps not the great craftsman in the sense that Flaubert was, he admired this faculty in others.

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In terms of content, Kafka was highly skeptical and even inimical toward the expressionist demand for the "new man. Kafka's relationship with existentialism is much more complex, mainly because the label "existentialist" by itself is rather meaningless.

Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard all have a certain existentialist dimension in their writings, as do Camus, Sartre, Jaspers and Heidegger, with whose works the term existentialism has been more or less equated since World War H. These various people have rather little in common concerning their religious, philosophical, or political views, but they nevertheless share certain characteristic tenets present in Kafka.

Kafka certainly remained fascinated and overwhelmed by the major theme of all varieties of existentialist thinking, namely the difficulty of responsible commitment in the face of an absurd universe. Deprived of all metaphysical guidelines, a man is nevertheless obligated to act morally in a world where death renders everything meaningless.

He alone must determine what constitutes a moral action although he can never foresee the consequences of his actions. As a result, he comes to regard his total freedom of choice as a curse.

The guilt of existentialist heroes, as of Kafka's, lies in their failure to choose and to commit themselves in the face of too many possibilities — none of which appears more legitimate or worthwhile than any other one. Like Camus' Sisyphus, who is doomed to hauling a rock uphill only to watch it roll down the other side, they find themselves faced with the fate of trying to wring a measure of dignity for themselves in an absurd world.

Unlike Sisyphus, however, Kafka's heroes remain drifters in the unlikely landscape they have helped create. Ulrich in Musil's The Man Without Quality and Mersault in Camus' The Stranger — these men are really contemporaries of Kafka's "heroes," drifters in a world devoid of metaphysical anchoring and suffering from the demons of absurdity and alienation.

And in this sense, they are all modern-day relatives of that great hesitator Hamlet, the victim of his exaggerated consciousness and overly rigorous conscience.

Existentialism in camus and kafka

The absurdity which Kafka portrays in his nightmarish stories was, to him, the quintessence of the whole human condition. The utter incompatibility of the "divine law" and the human law, and Kafka's inability to solve the discrepancy are the roots of the sense of estrangement from which his protagonists suffer.

No matter how hard Kafka's heroes strive to come to terms with the universe, they are hopelessly caught, not only in a mechanism of their own contriving, but also in a network of accidents and incidents, the least of which may lead to the gravest consequences.

Absurdity results in estrangement, and to the extent that Kafka deals with this basic calamity, he deals with all eminently existentialist theme.

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Kafka's protagonists are lonely because they are caught midway between a notion of good and evil, whose scope they cannot determine and whose contradiction they cannot resolve.

Deprived of any common reference and impaled upon their own limited vision of "the law," they cease to be heard, much less understood, by the world around them. They are isolated to the point where meaningful communication fails them.

When the typical Kafka hero, confronted with a question as to his identity, cannot give a clear-cut answer, Kafka does more than indicate difficulties of verbal expression: This is consistent with Kafka's world, which consists not of clearly delineated opposites, but of an endless series of possibilities.

These are never more than temporary expressions, never quite conveying what they really ought to convey — hence the temporary, fragmentary quality of Kafka's stories.

In the sense that Kafka is aware of the limitations which language imposes upon him and tests the limits of literature, he is a "modern" writer. In the sense that he does not destroy the grammatical, syntactical, and semantic components of his texts, he remains traditional. Kafka has refrained from such destructive aspirations because he is interested in tracing the human reasoning process in great detail up to the point where it fails.

He remains indebted to the empirical approach and is at his best when he depicts his protagonists desperately trying to comprehend the world by following the "normal" way.

Because they cannot make themselves heard, much less understood, Kafka's protagonists are involved in adventures which no one else knows about. The reader tends to have the feeling that he is privy to the protagonist's fate and, therefore, finds it rather easy to identify with him.Existentialism in Camus and Kafka Essay Existentialism in Camus, the Outsider' and Kafka's, The Metamorphosis' Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and Albert Camus' The Outsider, both feature protagonists in situations out of which arise existentialist values.

Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the. Existentialism (/ ˌ ɛ ɡ z ɪ ˈ s t ɛ n ʃ əl ɪ z əm /) is a tradition of philosophical inquiry associated mainly with certain 19th and 20th-century European philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.

Existentialism in Camus and Kafka Words | 7 Pages Existentialism in Camus, the Outsider' and Kafka's, The Metamorphosis' Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and Albert Camus' The Outsider, both feature protagonists in situations out of which arise existentialist values.

Existentialism in Camus, the Outsider' and Kafka's, The Metamorphosis' Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and Albert Camus' The Outsider, both feature protagonists in situations out of which arise existentialist values.

Existentialism in camus and kafka

9 Insane Stories from The Lives of Famous Existentialists May 9, Zachary Siegel 8 Comments Existentialism is a field of philosophy that grapples with human existence and flourished in post-war Europe in the s and s.

Camus was a friend of Sartre, until their falling-out, and wrote several works with existential themes including The Rebel, Summer in Algiers, The Myth of Sisyphus, and The Stranger, the latter being "considered—to what would have been Camus's irritation—the exemplary existentialist novel.".

Existentialism in Camus and Kafka Essay