WHAT IS EXISTENTIALISM? by William Barrett

WHAT IS EXISTENTIALISM?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another introduction to Existentialism would have to be awfully good to justify publication. Professor Barrett's book is better than awfully good, but only in its first part is it really an introduction, that part being a reprint of his famous Partisan Review pamphlet, originally unveiled in the late '40's and still remarkably relevant, though then as now less a philosophical analysis than a literary-cultural appraisal. The second part, and clearly the raison d'ctre behind the whole undertaking, is a languish essay about Heidegger, the clearest exposition that deep thinker has yet received, certainly in English, and one even better than the complementary chapter in Barrett's Irrational Man- richer, tighter, more up-to-date (it considers in passing On The Way Toward Language and Gelassenheit, two little works which embody Heidegger's later developments). Of course it's a pity Barrett has not chosen to dispute any of the German's numerous critics, but his calm, commanding, unembattled presentation of and Time, of the and ontological modes of apprehension, and of Heidegger's world-view from the Greeks to Kant, Holderlin and Nietzsche, is the sort of assessment which anyone interested in knowing what makes modern thought really modern cannot possibly do without.

Publisher: Grove