The following post is an example of an annotated bibliography for the various sources used on the subject of existentialism. An annotated bibliography is essentially a works cited or reference page, along with brief description of the sources and the value that those sources contributed to the academic essay in question.The present annotated bibliography is an example from one of the expert freelance writers at Ultius of how this should be done for the MLA writing style.
Sample MLA Annotated Bibliography for a Dissertation on Existentialism
Aron, Raymond. Marxism and the Existentialists. New York: HarperCollins, 1969. Print.
In this work, Aron discusses in detail the relationship that was present during the twentieth century between the existentialists on the one hand and the ideology of Marxism on the other, especially with respect to the thought of Jean-Paul Sartre. In the essay series, this source was primarily used in order to explain the ways in which they were strong contradictions in Sartre’s thought between the radical freedom implied by existentialism on the one hand, and the radical determinism implied by Marxism on the other. Moreover, it was also suggested that Albert Camus did not fall within this pattern, and that his thought was far more closely aligned with the tradition of anarchism than that of Marxism.
Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. Trans. Justin O’Brien. New York: Vintage. 1991. Print.
A major work, Albert Camus explores the problem of suicide. He begins with the premise that the human condition is absurd, due to the conflict that exists between the human longing for clarity and meaning on the one hand, and the manifest irrationality of the world on the other. He calls this conflict the relationship of the absurd. From this point, Camus proceeds to suggest that suicide is not in fact an adequate response to the human condition, due to the fact that the relationship of the absurd in and of itself has intrinsic moral value—and that this value can only be preserved insofar as a person remains alive. The essay series uses this work in order to elucidate some of the key concepts that animate Camus’s entire philosophy.
Camus, Albert. The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt. New York: Vintage, 1992. Print.
This extensive essay could be understood as a kind of sequel to his previous work The Myth of Sisyphus: Camus opens with the statement that whereas that work dealt with the problem of suicide, this one deals with the problem of murder. Moreover, Camus takes his thought one step further from the concept of the absurd developed in Sisyphus by creating the concept of revolt.
The main idea is that when man is confronted with the predicament of the absurd that characterizes the human condition, the only natural response is revolt—but that since all people are in this same predicament, that this revolt is also the genesis of real human solidarity. Camus develops this line of thought with great lucidity and passion, and it is one of the more inspiring ideas that the present writer has ever encountered in all of philosophy and literature.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. Print.
Dostoevsky’s last—and many would say greatest—novel chronicles the stories of the three brothers Dmitiri, Ivan, and Alyosha, along with those of countless other characters. The brothers could each be understood as representing a certain mode of existence: Dmitri is the sensualist, Ivan is the rationalist, and Alyosha is the Christian. Within the novel, Ivan famously suggests that if God did not exist, then “all things would be permitted”—and he says this not with a sense of freedom but rather with a sense of despair. Part of the essay within the series that is dedicated to Dostoevsky focuses on the meaning and significance of this statement.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Notes from Underground. Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Vintage, 1994. Print.
This is a novella by Dostoevsky that marks the point at which he almost invents an archetype, or literary type of human being. The Underground Man is a brooding dreamer who is filled with passion but also with resentment; and although there is something heroic about him at the level of the imagination, one could only say that he something of a loser at the level of actual life. This archetype is crucial to understanding the thought and writings of Dostoevsky as a whole, due to the fact that the archetype recurs in different forms across several of his major novels. For example, the protagonist of Crime and Punishment could be understood as a fully fleshed out character in the mold of the archetype of the Underground Man; and likewise, Ivan from The Brothers Karamazov is another incarnation of this figure.
Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. John MacQuarrie and Edward Robinson. New York: Harper, 2008. Print.
Being and Time is Heidegger’s major philosophical work, in which he develops several of the key concepts that are characteristic of him. A major concept from this work that is discussed in the essay series is Dasein, which is usually rendered into English by the phrase being-in-the-world. The main point of this concept is that the orthodox distinction between subjective self and objective world is a fallacy, due to the fact that any actually existing self is always utterly immersed within a specific living world or existential context. This work, however, is also written in what is often utterly impenetrable prose; and this has led to the question raised in the essay series post on Heidegger of whether Heidegger might be an emperor with no clothes: that is, a figure who uses an obscure writing style in order to cover up some inherent deficiency in the quality of the content itself.
Iyer, Sethu A. Testament: An Invitation to Lucid Romance. Austin: CreateSpace, 2016. Print.
This is a very recent work of existential philosophy that was just published in the March of 2016. In this work, Iyer develops a coherent vision of the world, to which he gives the name of lucid romance. He draws on several other existentialists, especially Søren Kierkegaard, when developing his ideas. In particular, it is worth pointing out that Iyer juxtaposes Albert Camus’s concept of the absurd with Kierkegaard’s concept of faith, and then uses the concept of the genuine option (developed by William James) in order to decide this matter in favor of the option of faith.
James, Clive. Cultural Amnesia. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008. Print.
This book consists of a panoramic overview of a great many important figures from the history of Western literature and civilization. James essentially writes a short essay and personal reflection on each of these figures. For present purposes, the book was primarily used in order to support certain points made regarding Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger. In particular, James is somewhat refreshing in the negative opinions he has about these figures, which goes against the grain of the almost universal positive appraisal of the figures. These contrarian opinions are actually in line with the present writer’s own views regarding these figures: for example, it has been suggested within the essay series that Sartre’s thought is marred by a deep contradiction between his existentialism and his Marxism, and that Heidegger is possibly an emperor with no clothes. The agreement of James, a highly respected cultural critic, adds credence to these otherwise precarious and even potentially offensive assertions.
Kierkegaard, Søren. The Essential Kierkegaard. Trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong Princeton: Princeton U P, 2000. Print.
This is an anthology containing substantial excerpts from several of Kierkegaard’s major works. Kierkegaard in probably one of the most diverse writers ever, with content, tone, and even style vary significantly from one work to another. If someone wants a general introduction to Kierkegaard’s works and gain a better sense of where one would like to begin reading him in full, this anthology would definitely be the best place to start. Moreover, Kierkegaard’s collected works as a whole are structured in an almost dialectical way, with the works intertwining with each other in order to guide the reader along the psychological road that Kierkegaard believes should be walked. As such, aside from providing an excellent overview to the works of Kierkegaard, this anthology also enables the reader to better appreciate this overarching structure of Kierkegaard’s thought.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage, 1966. Print.
In this major work, Friedrich Nietzsche develops the premises and implications of the provocative title. One of Nietzsche’s main ideas is that orthodox notions of good and evil are outmoded cultural constructs that have primarily been developed by one social group or another within society and thus which have no real metaphysical reality. He proposes that the philosophy of the future—of which Nietzsche saw his own works as the harbinger—would consist of moving past these moral categories and into a new domain of freedom and power. This work has been cited within the essay series in order to highlight some of the key aspects and contours of Nietzsche’s thought in general. His analysis here is closely connected with the ideas of master morality and slave morality that he develops elsewhere.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. “Existentialism is a Humanism.” Marxists Internet Archive. 1946. Web. 13 Apr 2016. .
Jean-Paul Sartre develops, in this essay, the title proposition and seeks to demonstrate in what ways existentialism could meaningfully be called a humanism. Within the essay series, though, this source was primarily used in order to refer to Sartre’s technical definition of existentialism, which consists of the proposition that for human beings, existence precedes essence. To a large extent, the essay series has contested this definition and attempted to show that it would be more productive to define existentialism as an ethos or attitude toward life and the world. This point is supported by the fact that several of the key figures that have been included in the essay series (including Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and Camus) would in fact not have qualified as existentialists according to Sartre’s technical definition of the term.
Shestov, Lev. Athens and Jerusalem. Trans. Bernard Martin. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968. Print.
The title of Shestov’s work refers to the fact that Athens is the birthplace of Western philosophy, whereas Jerusalem is the birthplace of Western religion; Athens is the seat of reason, whereas Jerusalem is the seat of prophecy. Over the course of his work, Shestov makes a deep and passionate case for the point that the existential solution to the riddle of the human condition is to be found in Jerusalem and not in Athens. Indeed, Shestov even goes so far as to suggest that philosophy should give up its futile pursuit of universal or objective truths, and instead focus its efforts on delving more deeply into the subjective and personal mystery of the human condition. In the present essay series, it was suggested that it is impressive that Shestov was able to carry the flag of this kind of thinking well into the twentieth century, which was increasingly becoming characterized by science and materialism.