May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung... May your heart always be joyful, and your song always be sung.- RA Zimmerman
Maybe others in the self-help guru "industry" have said similar things but NONE has come close to saying it with the authority and credibility of Dr. Viktor Frankl given what he endured and who he became and what he has meant, and continues to mean, to so many.
My 2 favorite quotes from this book:
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances...."
"Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'"
This book is not some deep philosophical rambling on the meaning of life. It's about a person's search for meaning, or more particularly about the search of Dr. Viktor Frankl, an eminent psychiatrist with a mountain of personal experience in coping with adversity, and how it can make a difference in the practical ways you view your life and handle your trials and tribulations.
Dr. Frankl was imprisoned in 4 Nazi death camps, including the infamous Auschwitz, between 1942 and 1945. He survived, while his pregnant wife, parents and brother all died. He differed with Freud who thought our primary drive in life is pleasure, in arguing that we are driven to pursue and find something meaningful in our lives. So, while we cannot, obviously, avoid suffering, Dr. Frankl says, we can choose how to cope with the hurt, find meaning in our suffering and move on with a sense of renewed purpose.
A wonderful, practical and highly recommended book.
I initially purchased this audiobook months ago, after I had purchased it in print. I couldn't get past the first chapter. I kept running into references to it and decided to give it 75 pages or give up. I am so glad I continued. It is the funniest literary novel I've ever read or listened to. I loved it.
It's hard to describe the novel or Ignatius adequately enough to explain the hilarity, as Walker Percy says in his foreword to this novel for which John Kennedy Toole (a tortured soul) was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize 12 years after his suicide in 1969 at the age of 31.
My best stab at a description of Ignatius is a brilliant bigoted buffoon in New Orleans (the Big Easy), and to give some quotes, though they are much funnier in context:
“Leaving New Orleans also frightened me considerably. Outside of the city limits the heart of darkness, the true wasteland begins.”
Ignatius: “I suspect that beneath your offensively and vulgarly effeminate façade there may be a soul of sorts. Have you read widely in Boethius?"
N.O. Denizen: "Who? Oh, heavens no. I never even read newspapers."
Ignatius: "Then you must begin a reading program immediately so that you may understand the crises of our age," Ignatius said solemnly. "Begin with the late Romans, including Boethius, of course. Then you should dip rather extensively into early Medieval. You may skip the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. That is mostly dangerous propaganda. Now that I think of it, you had better skip the Romantics and the Victorians, too. For the contemporary period, you should study some selected comic books."
Denizen: "You're fantastic."
Ignatius: "I recommend Batman especially, for he tends to transcend the abysmal society in which he's found himself. His morality is rather rigid, also. I rather respect Batman.”
Mother Reilly: “It smells terrible in here.'
Ignatius: "Well, what do you expect? The human body, when confined, produces certain odors which we tend to forget in this age of deodorants and other perversions. Actually, I find the atmosphere of this room rather comforting. Schiller needed the scent of apples rotting in his desk in order to write. I, too, have my needs. You may remember that Mark Twain preferred to lie supinely in bed while composing those rather dated and boring efforts which contemporary scholars try to prove meaningful. Veneration of Mark Twain is one of the roots of our current intellectual stalemate.”
I definitely recommend this.
Okay. I know this has been deemed a "classic." I know the writing is great and that Camus says so many things in the novella's subtext to show a guy who could not care less about life, cannot shed a tear at his mother's funeral and cares about no one and no thing, not even himself.
I'm supposed to like it because it's a classic. As a review, I'll stick to the first paragraph.
If you are reading this review for a recommendation, I say NO. This is the most depressing, hopeless and irredeemable book I've ever read, I do believe. Though I won't take away 2 stars (and give it only 3) because it's depressing.
And, if you happen to be looking for depressing, buy this. In short of 3 and a half hours, it should fulfill all your despondent desires.