"Die Realität des Absurden: Die Entwicklung philosophischer Ideen in Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Camus und Günter Grass" by Katie Gramlich, Class of 2009
The Reality of the Absurd: The Development of Philosophical Ideas in Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Camus and Günter Grass examines how the ideas of Nietzsche influenced the French existentialist Camus, and how Camus consequently influenced and continues to influence the German literary writer Günter Grass. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Myth of Sisyphus, and Headbirths, Or the Germans are Dying Out, by each of the authors respectively, are the major works of focus within this article. Although Nietzsche was not an existentialist per se, which is most generally defined by the notion that man's existence precedes his essence, his work had direct impacts upon Camus' existential philosophy of the absurd. They were both nihilists whose philosophies were essentially positive and life affirming. Nietzsche's influence and the parallels between the two philosophers are unequivocal in The Myth of Sisyphus, where Camus' absurd hero is condemned to ceaselessly rolling a stone up a hill. At the end of the essay, however, we are instructed to imagine Sisyphus happy, for the act itself creates a kind of meaning. Twenty-five years later, Grass uses Sisyphus as a political allegory within his partially autobiographical novel. It follows the story of a socially progressive and politically active couple vacationing in a third-world country, who is also struggling on a personal level with the decision about whether or not to raise a child. The husband is the absurd hero of the novel, but the article raises questions as to the couple's true willingness to face the absurdity of life, both politically and personally. The Reality of the Absurd ultimately professes a positive analysis of absurd philosophies in both traditional philosophic works and literature. In the examination of the influence that Nietzsche had on Camus, and Camus on Grass, the article is an example of how a philosophical idea travels between and becomes a significant part of different individuals, nations, and periods of time.
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"Hermann Hesses Siddhartha: Autobiographisches Zeugnis, Religion, und Philosophie" by Anne Marie Wheeler, Class of 2010
Hermann Hesses Siddhartha: Autobiographisches Zeugnis, Religion, und Philosophie discusses three strong elements of Hesse's novel, namely the parallels between Hesse's life and his character's, as well as the novel's religious and philosophical influences and implications. It clarifies how Siddhartha's life can be viewed as an idealization of Hesse's life through imbuing Siddhartha's life with events and enlightenments from the author's. The paper also analyzes the integration of elements of Hindu and Buddhist thought with that of philosophers like Schopenhauer and Lie Tzu.
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