Existentialism (2052 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

  • David E. Cooper (University of Durham)
  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


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Existentialism is a major twentieth century continental European philosophical movement. In popular accounts, it is sometimes said that existentialism was an expression of postwar ennui that only flourished, and then withered, during the decade after World War II. But this is to confuse existentialist philosophy with “café existentialism”, a cult, vividly described in Simone de Beauvoir’s autobiography , among young Parisians of the time who affected a distinctive style of dress, frequented certain bars, and delighted in iconoclastic behaviour. Philosophical existentialism, by contrast, was not an ephemeral episode, but a body of thought with roots in older philosophical traditions and one that continues to exert an …

Cooper, David E.. "Existentialism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 November 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=366, accessed 22 October 2016.]