Two Views of Death: Naturalist and Existentialist

“Two Views of Death”

By William Soderberg

Decisions on the treatment and care of the dying and personal attitudes toward death are formed against the backdrop of cultural attitudes toward death. Two significant movements in Western culture during the past century—naturalism and existentialism—have articulated widely shared attitudes toward death. In examining some representative naturalist and existentialist texts on death, one is struck by two features: 1) the dominant viewpoint of the naturalist literature is “external” and 2) the views of death in the two literatures are different. In this essay I will explore the thesis that the different views of death in the two movements are linked to the opposing viewpoints adopted by the naturalists and the existentialists.

The viewpoint which I have characterized as “external” in naturalism is an objective, factual reporting of events, a focusing of the camera’s eye on a “slice of life,” a neutral observing of the problems of man. The naturalist, at the same time, describes his subject with a view to reforming and improving man’s condition. The viewpoint which I have called “internal” in existentialist literature is the description of experience as seen subjectively, from “within,” from the viewpoint of the individual. Autobiographical material is frequently used by the existentialist writer to achieve this personal mode of relating human experience.

The views of death in each movement, while similar on a superficial reading, are fundamentally opposed. Naturalists assume disbelief in an afterlife and propose that meaning can be found in commitment to a better future for man on earth. Thus, man must struggle against the forces by which his life is determined and against the evils that plague him—among which are injustice, sickness, and death. Survival is considered a good, and death, in posing a threat to human survival, must be opposed. Death is the tragic, pointless, loss of life. Even though man loses the battle, he may find meaning in the very struggle against death. The view of death in the existentialist writers also acknowledges death’s meaninglessness and absurdity. But the meaninglessness of death is a starting point rather than a final answer for the existentialists. It is in facing the absurdity of one’s death that a person may become conscious of death as it truly is, according to some of the existentialists. Nor does death deny man’s freedom in the existentialist orientation.

The existentialist repudiation of naturalism rests on the different views of man and the corresponding different views of death in the two camps. Existentialism proposes a different view of the human individual than that held by the naturalists. Existentialist writers identify the external point of view as a fundamental flaw in the naturalist view of man. The existentialists thus attack the objective, neutral point of view. This rejection of the external viewpoint enables the existentialists to examine a response to death which is somewhat more complex than the naturalist view that the dying person is a victim trapped in the human condition. The personal, internal viewpoint enables the existentialist writers to assert that it is a free, conscious human being who dies and to examine some implications of the view.

The naturalist movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reflects earlier currents in intellectual history. The literary figures in this movement—represented in this essay by Emile Zola, Jack London, and Thomas Hardy—came under the influence of various philosophers whose thought contributed to the rise and growth of modern science—among others, Bacon, Condorcet, and Comte. Bacon in Novum Organum looked to the experimental method as a means for alleviating the suffering and contributing to the welfare of mankind. Eighteenth-century enlightenment thought generally denied personal immortality while holding that progress in science was a worthy goal for human life. Looking to the future in another world gave way in enlightenment thought to a belief in a better future in this world. Condorcet, for example, anticipated that “a period must one day arrive when death will be nothing more than the effect either of extraordinary accidents, or of the slow and gradual decay of the vital powers.”1 Thus the cure of disease in experimental medicine would contribute to human welfare by prolonging life.

Emile Zola is a major literary spokesman of the nineteenth-century naturalist movement. In an essay entitled “The Experimental Novel”2 he picks up the intellectual threads of Bacon, Condorcet, Comte, and others. Zola advocated that writers of literature take up the method of science or, as he refers to it, the experimental method. The writer can apply the method of science to his observation of man and society and contribute to the goal which literature shares with science—an increase in human welfare. Zola looks to the day when man will understand the laws of heredity and environment in a manner exactly parallel to his understanding of the laws of physics and chemistry and thereby achieve greater mastery over life. He accepts “an absolute determinism in the existing conditions of natural phenomena; for the living as for the inanimate bodies.”3 Zola confidently asserts: “We can easily proclaim, without fear of being mistaken, the hour in which the laws of thought and passion will be formulated in their turn.”4 Zola anticipates the day when “the doctor will be the master of maladies; will cure without fail; his influence upon the human body will conduce to the welfare and strength of the species.”5

Implicit in Zola’s position is an element of Comtian positivism. Comte’s framework of the stages of history6 are evident in Zola’s reference to “metaphysical man” and “theological age” in the following from “The Experimental Novel”:

I have reached this point: the experimental novel is a consequence of the scientific evolution of the century; it continues and completes physiology, which itself leansfor support on chemistry and medicine; it substitutes for the study of the abstract and the metaphysical man the studyof the natural man, governed by physical and chemical laws, and modified by the influences of his surroundings; it is in one word the literature of our scientific age, as the classical and romantic literature corresponded to a scholastic and theological age.7

In proposing the advance of man through scientific progress, Zola shares with Comte the agency as well as the goal of progress. Progress would result through the advance of scientific expertise; the agent of expertise would be the scientist. As one with superior knowledge of man and nature, the scientist’s role would be to administer and direct society. This process is described as the administrative point of view: the scientist would contribute to the long-range, intelligent analysis of problems related to social organization.8 Unlike his enlightenment predecessors, Comte does not regard most men as capable of long-range, intelligent analysis and suggests the use of emotional appeals to persuade people to follow certain courses of action. Among these is Comte’s religion of man.

The hope for the future, according to Zola, lies in the scientific analysis of human problems by an elite group of savants. Zola envisions the writer’s role as that of an “experimental moralist”9 who shares in this “noble work”: “to be the master of good and evil, to regulate life, to regulate society, to solve in time all the problems of socialism, above all, to give justice a solid foundation by solving through experiment the questions of criminality.”10 The role of intelligent beings is “to penetrate to the wherefore of things, to become superior to these things, and to reduce them to a condition of subservient machinery.”11 The novelist, physiologist and experimental doctor, then, study man “as a simple individual and as a social animal.”12 The naturalistic novel is to experiment on man and “dissect piece by piece this human machinery.”13 Essential to this role of the writer and scientist is the external viewpoint of the neutral observer who objectively describes the passive object under study. Also present is the view of “natural man,” that is, man continuous with the rest of nature, subject to the same laws as nature itself, a large ape rather than a fallen angel.

A concise fictional representation of naturalist themes is Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.” In this short story a man—who is left unnamed—sets out with a dog in the bitter Yukon cold to join others in a camp about a day’s journey away. Underground springs pose a danger to both man and dog in the seventy-five-below-zero temperature. The dog makes the first plunge into a spring but manages to pull the ice from its hair and survive. The man then steps knee-deep into a spring and attempts to build a fire to thaw his feet and legs. Already suffering from numbness, he slowly gets a fire going — only to realize he has built it beneath the snow-covered limbs of a spruce tree. The snow on the tree melts and quenches the fire. The man attempts to move on, but is unable to walk far; he sits down, freezes to death, and the dog wanders on.

London objectifies and distances himself from his tragic victim by identifying the character only as “a man.” The anonymity of the character being observed reinforces the external viewpoint adopted by the naturalist writer.

The imagery of the cold north country is a favorite of London’s(see, for example, The Call of the Wild), suggesting in a concrete way the bleakness of the human condition. The story “To Build a Fire” takes place during that part of the year in the Yukon when the sun does not even rise. The imagery suggests man abandoned in a hostile universe. If any purpose at all can be found, in the view of the naturalists, it is in the goal of survival. Survival, in London’s story, demands continual vigilance—the slightest lapse of wit or memory could result in the collapse of the barriers between man and a hostile environment. Slight oversights on the man’s part—failing to travel with a human companion, failing to know the exact temperature—have a precipitous effect when a comparatively minor mishap occurs.

The vast distances of the north separate man from man and man from civilization. And man’s instinct to survive is dulled by civilization. In society, man’s sense of his capability and his own potential is undeveloped. He must pit himself against nature, in the naturalist’s view, to recover his true self. But nature is not benign. To survive on the frontier one must cooperate with nature’s ways. The animal has a better chance to survive because its survival instinct is more acute than the man’s. “The dog knew; all its ancestry knew, and it had inherited the knowledge. And it knew that it was not good to walk abroad in such fearful cold.”15 While man loses the struggle, the animal, closer to nature, survives. The man in the end loses his struggle against the hostile environment. When death overtakes its victim, the man sits down and decides at least to die with dignity. The death is endured, the victim overcome. Only in death does nature grow benign: the freezing man is spared great pain.

Another naturalist theme is developed by Thomas Hardy in Jude the Obscure.16 Hardy depicts a victim locked in mortal battle against social and hereditary forces, dying of tuberculosis after watching each of his life’s enterprises end in failure or horror. Jude is thwarted by his working-class status from entering Oxford. From an unsuccessful early marriage Jude is left with a son who commits suicide after killing the children of Jude’s second marriage. After the deaths of the children, Jude’s second wife, who is also his cousin, leaves him and returns to her former husband. As Jude’s health fails, he is rejoined by his thoughtless first wife who demands that he honor the marriage contract. As Jude dies, this first wife cavorts with other men at a carnival.

“The letter killeth” appears as the title’s subscript and points to Hardy’s theme of the individual’s struggle against society’s restrictions. Marriage with the woman he genuinely chooses occurs only at the cost of threatening the social taboos on divorce and incest. The resulting social pressure on Jude and Sue, his second wife, leads to the horror of the children’s deaths and Sue’s returning to her first husband.

Class privilege weighs heavily on Jude when his application is turned down by Oxford with the curt letter:

Biblioll College.

Sir, I have read your letter with interest; and, judging from your description of yourself as a working-man, I venture to think that you will have a much better chance of success in life by remaining in your own sphere and sticking to your trade than by adopting any other course. That, therefore, is what I advise you to do. Yours faithfully,

T. Tetuphenay

To Mr. J. Fawley, Stone-mason.17

Jude turns to alcohol as his ambitions recede—alcoholism being commonly viewed in Hardy’s day as hereditary.

Hardy plays the role of Zola’s experimental moralist in protesting the social restraints placed on the individual by the rigidity of the marriage contract, incest taboos and class privilege. He describes the marriage between Jude and his first wife, for example, in the following terms:

And so, standing before the aforesaid officiator, the two  swore that at every other time of their lives till death took them, they would assuredly believe, feel, and desire precisely as they had believed, felt, and desired during the few preceding weeks. What was as remarkable as the undertaking itself was the fact that nobody seemed at all surprised at what they swore. 18

The point of view adopted by Hardy is the external viewpoint of the naturalist writer. Hardy describes himself as the “chronicler of these lives,”19 a phrase which captures the role of the writer in the naturalist novel. The novelist stands apart from the actors on his stage, detached and objective, reporting the facts of the lives victimized by the human condition.

The naturalist hypothesis that humans are totally determined by heredity and environment stands in direct contrast to the existentialist emphasis on human freedom. Sartre, for example, refutes the naturalist’s determinism in the following key passage from “Existentialism is a Humanism”:

As is generally known, the basic charge against us is that we put the emphasis on the dark side of human life. Someone recently told me of a lady who, when she let slip a vulgar word in a moment of irritation, excused herself by saying ‘I guess I’m becoming an existentialist.’ Consequently, existentialism is regarded as something ugly; that is why we are said to be naturalists; and if we are, it is rather surprising that in this day and age we cause so much more alarm and scandal than does naturalism, properly so called. The kind of person who can take in his stride such a novel as Zola’s The Earth 20 is disgusted as soon as he starts reading an existentialist novel; the kind of person who is resigned to the wisdom of the ages—which is pretty sad—finds us even sadder. Yet, what can be more disillusioning than saying ‘true charity begins at home’ or ‘a scoundrel will always return evil for good’?

We know the commonplace remarks made when this subject comes up, remarks which always add up to the same thing; we shouldn’t struggle against powers-that-be; we shouldn’t try to rise above our station; any action which doesn’t conform to authority is romantic; any effort not based on past experiences shows that man’s bent is always toward trouble, that there must be a strong hand to hold him in check, if not, there will be anarchy. There are still people who go   on mumbling these melancholy old saws, the people who say, ‘It’s only human!’ whenever a more or less repugnant act is pointed out to them, the people who glut themselves on    chansons realistes; these are the people who accuse existentialism of being too gloomy, and to such an extent that I wonder whether they are complaining about it, not for its pessimism, but much rather its optimism. Can it be that what really scares them in the doctrine…is that it leaves to a man a possibility of choice?21

 Existentialism is akin to naturalism, but Sartre spells out a critical difference: in naturalism, man is determined; in existentialism, man is free. Existentialism does not accept the reduction of man to an animal, subject to the determining forces of heredity and environment. Man is free, and his freedom is linked to his consciousness. The naturalist view that man can be made the object of scientific study and viewed from the “outside” is fundamentally opposed by the existentialists on the grounds that the naturalist viewpoint fails to take into account individual consciousness. The literature of existentialism consistently examines questions from the individual’s point of view. The following analysis of existentialist texts illustrates this internal viewpoint.

Sartre, in a chapter entitled “My Death,”22 attempts to correct a central point of Heidegger’s. Heidegger, in rejecting the view that death is a mere accident or has no meaning, developed his theory that human reality is a “being-toward-death” or a “being-unto-death.” An individual does not achieve authenticity until he interiorizes the basic fact that he will die: “It is by projecting itself freely toward its final possibility that the Dasein will attain authentic existence.”23

Sartre’s repudiation of Heidegger takes the form of refuting the nature of the realization of death in Heidegger. Sartre regards the individual’s awareness of death in Heidegger as too general. A general awareness that one will die sometime is insufficient, in Sartre’s view, to reveal death as it really is. And Sartre holds that “death by being revealed to us as it really is frees us wholly from its so-called constraint.”24 He finds that only a person faced with death at a certain time—the condemned person or one who dies a premature death—is able to confront death as it really is. Thus Pablo Ibbietta in “The Wall”25 is a character whose situation enables him to confront death as it is. In this short story by Sartre, Pablo is condemned to death as a dissenter in Spain during the 1930’s. The sentence of Pablo and two companions is received the evening before their executions are to occur. Pablo, the narrator, recounts the overnight wait and details the actions and responses of the condemned prisoners. At dawn, Pablo has his sentence commuted because he unwittingly discloses the whereabouts of another dissenter.

Sartre has said in “Existentialism is a Humanism” that the existentialists differ from the naturalists in offering man a choice. The situation which Sartre creates in “The Wall” illustrate this rejection of naturalism. The condemned are caught in an absurd situation. During their confinement, there is a reference to the possibility that they have been condemned through a case of mistaken identity—but the officer in charge is not going to “waste his time’ trying to track down the others.26 But even in the face of an arbitrary, absurd condemnation the individual can “freely give to [his] being a meaning for which [he] is responsible.”27

The condemned person is enabled by his situation to face death as it is—an external limit of one’s subjectivity, an absurdity. He does not avoid bad faith by “choosing an attitude” toward death. It appears that Pablo is caught in the tension between the meaninglessness of death and the meaning which he gives to his own being. Remaining in this tension in the face of death is to live consciously—or, as in “The Wall,” to remain awake, not to die “stupefied with sleep”: “I didn’t want to die like an animal, I wanted to understand.”28

To choose an attitude toward death is in some way to escape this tension. Thus, one who dies of old age may think of death as the completion of a melody, a “resolved chord,”29 the satisfactory completion of his projects. But to choose such an attitude and regard death as an act of fulfillment is to avoid the basic meaninglessness of death—and thereby to die in a less than fully conscious manner. As Pablo puts it, this is not to die “cleanly.”30

Sartre parodies the external viewpoint of the neutral observer in “The Wall.” A doctor is assigned to the cell with the three condemned prisoners, ostensibly to provide care and comfort. But his detached manner and clandestine checking of a prisoner’s pulse lead Pablo to conclude that the doctor “wasn’t interested in what we thought; he came to watch our bodies, bodies dying in agony while yet alive.”31 The presence of the doctor, then, adds to the oppressive absurdity of the situation. The taking of the pulse appears to be an attempt to console Juan, one of the prisoners, but the true purpose is revealed when the doctor slips out his watch. Pablo thinks to himself: “Bastard, let him come and take my pulse. I’ll shove my fist in his rotten face.”32 As each of the condemned undergoes physical and psychological changes in the face of an absurd death, the doctor dispassionately takes notes. Finally, Juan attempts to bite the doctor’s hand when the doctor returns in a second attempt apparently to console him.

Sartre’s material in “The Wall” is semi-autobiographical, Sartre having himself spent some time in a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. Camus continues the autobiographical mode in A Happy Death.33 Camus wrote A Happy Death in his early twenties, after he had been diagnosed as having tuberculosis. The protagonist of the novel dies from tuberculosis.

In A Happy Death and in The Myth of Sisyphus Camus addresses existentialist themes which add to our understanding of the existentialist rejection of the naturalist viewpoint. Presenting the individual in his concrete situation, for example, enables Camus to avoid the abstraction of doctrines: “The doctrines that explain everything to me also debilitate me at the same time. They relieve me of the weight of my own life, and yet I must carry it alone.”34 Avoiding doctrines and carrying weight of one’s own life are part of Camus’ answer to his question “Is suicide a solution to the absurd?” Camus’ reply is negative: “Suicide is a repudiation…the absurd is his[the absurd man’s] extreme tension, which he maintains constantly by solitary effort, for he knows that in that consciousness and in that day-to-day revolt he gives proof of his only truth, which is defiance.”35

In A Happy Death, Camus contrasts the “natural” death of one of the characters with the “conscious” death from tuberculosis of Patrice Mersault, the narrator. Mersault is a shipping clerk and runs his mother’s boarding house after her death. In the first half of the novel, entitled “Natural Death,” Mersault kills a double amputee named Zagreus at Zagreus’ request and comes into possession of Zagreus’ considerable fortune. In the second half of the novel, “Conscious Death,” Mersault travels, enjoys a free-style life in sharing a house with three women, marries, seeks solitude, and spends his final days under the care of his wife and doctor.

By entering the mind of the narrator and presenting Mersault’s reflections on his coming death, Camus presents a response to death from the point of view of the dying individual. And since Camus knew as he was writing the novel that he had tuberculosis, the novel assumes another level of significance as a lengthy meditation by the author on his own death.

Mersault’s death is characterized as a “conscious” death, while that of Zagreus is called “natural”. Zagreus’ death is a virtual suicide, since he requests that Mersault kill him and rewards Mersault handsomely for doing so. Mersault’s death, by contrast, is a death which results from Mersault’s tuberculosis. Mersault chooses to die from his tuberculosis rather than end his own life: he is the absurd hero who exists in the tension of sensing with what intensity nature can negate him. The choice to live in the tension is presented as a choice to remain conscious to the very last. “Everything begins with consciousness,” Camus contends, “and nothing is worth anything except through it.”36 For the purpose of remaining conscious, Mersault requests from his doctor the availability of adrenalin and has the request fulfilled.

Mersault’s death from tuberculosis stands in marked contrast to that of Jude Fawley from the same illness in Jude the Obscure. The vigilant care given by Mersault’s wife enables Mersault to die as he has chosen—consciously. Jude, by comparison, has none of his desires or choices satisfied. He dies calling out for water and reciting lamentations when no one responds to his pleas for water. When his thoughtless first wife takes time out from the carnival to check on him, she finds him dead and bemoans the timing of his death—interfering, as it does, with her returning to the carnival. Jude has died a victim; Mersault, by contrast, has died in “control,” remaining in the tension of consciousness.

Gabriel Marcel differs in many respects from the two existentialist writers already discussed. Marcel’s Christianity is one central point of difference. He also offers a variant analysis of the question of death. Marcel refers to the treatment of death in Sartre and Heidegger as a doctrine on which no wisdom can be built.37 Marcel, unlike Sartre and Heidegger, focuses on the death of a loved one rather than on his own death. He finds the death of someone we love the only thing worth preoccupying us and the source of a wisdom in confronting death. In the final scene of Marcel’s play, L’Emissaire, for example, Antoine Sorgue says:

There is one thing I discovered after the death of my parents—that which summons us to survive is actually what sustains us. And those whom we have never stopped loving with the best of ourselves become like an immense skyscape invisible yet somehow felt, under which we move forward, always more divided from ourselves, toward the instant where everything will be enveloped in love.38


In experiencing the death of a loved one Marcel finds a different answer to the question of death’s meaning: “it is because one cannot truly love without wishing immortality of the loved one that man cannot accept death.”39

With Marcel we come to a rather full understanding of the existentialists’ rejection of the naturalists’ external viewpoint. Marcel articulates the concern of the existentialists to know the “inward reality” of the individual. In an essay entitled “On the Ontological Mystery,” for example, Marcel wonders “with a kind of dread what can be the inward reality of the life of this or that man employed on the railway.”40 But science is of little use in answering this question since science “does not speak of reality other than in the third person.”41 And Marcel’s purpose in philosophizing is to “illuminate experience from the inside and not to throw light on it from the outside.”42

In adopting the internal viewpoint, Marcel opens the way to a critical distinction in his philosophy — the distinction between mystery and problem. One may view death, as it is viewed in science, as a problem to be solved. The view that death is a final end and an evil to be conquered is the result of adopting the external viewpoint. Marcel advocated instead a viewpoint which enables one to experience life as one’s own:

I think that death appears as an end only when life is seen as a kind of journey. But life appears this way only when I consider it from outside — and to the degree I consider it this way, I no longer experience life as my life.43


In contrast to death viewed as a problem, death when viewed as a mystery ceases to be an evil.44 The key to the mystery of death for Marcel is intersubjectivity: the death of the beloved constitutes the “existential premises of immortality.”45 Marcel finds the idea of a solitary and narcissistic survival to be deprived of all significance.46 For Marcel, every individual is a symbol or expression of the ontological mystery, a concrete individual who knows himself or herself to be in the world as well as outside by virtue of intersubjectivity. And the awareness of this mystery may in itself be sufficient to resist total despair arising from the encounter with death.47

In summary, we have seen several death-related themes in the existentialist repudiation of naturalism. The anticipation of a better future on earth through science gave meaning to life in the philosophy of naturalism. A day of increased human welfare would arrive through the objective, factual observation of man and the application of a scientific method to human problems. The improvement of the human condition was the goal of the naturalist writer, and death was regarded as one of the evils to be conquered in this struggle.

In rejecting naturalist claims, existentialism has been a corrective to reducing individuals to abstractions. Rather than emphasizing future societal goals as a source of meaning for humans, existentialist writers have placed a primary emphasis on the present, the immediate experience, and existing individual. This change of emphasis is evident in the internal viewpoint adopted by the existentialists to focus on subjective experience. Viewed from the perspective of the individual, responses to death in the existentialist writers add another dimension to the responses in naturalist writers. The individual in confronting death experiences despair, anguish, meaninglessness; but he or she is able to transcend these responses and face death consciously, as a free moral agent.

This additional, existential dimension suggests that the principle of autonomy in respect to dying persons could be given greater importance in relation to the principal of beneficence. But such an elevation of the principle of autonomy would not come about easily—through, for example, “simply adopting the patient’s point of view.” The opposition between naturalism and existentialism indicates the true difficulty of the task: the different viewpoints toward death represented by these two movements involve basically different paradigms. Reason applied to the future welfare of humanity is the source of meaning in one; individual choice in a present situation is the basis of authentic existence in the other. And the reconciliation of these paradigms is difficult at best.




End Notes


  1. Quoted in Jaques Choron, Death and Western Thought

(New York: Collier Books, 1963), p.135.


  1. In Emile Zola, The Experimental Novel and Other Essays

(New York: Haskell House, 1964), pp. 1-54.


  1. Ibid., p. 3.


  1. Ibid., p. 16.


  1. Ibid., p. 25.


  1. Comte traces three parallel stages in the growth of an individual and the development of civilized society. The religious stage is analogous to childhood. Just as the individual casts off early childhood superstitions, so civilization passes beyond a primitive religious stage. The adolescent years of an individual and of society are characterized by an awareness of universal principles. The principles are no longer personified life-forces as they were during the religious stage. They are abstract principles and characterize the metaphysical stage of a society’s development. The adult stage of society is reached when humans no longer clings to religious superstitions or vague metaphysical principles. People are now convinced of the validity and objective truth embodied in the cause-effect relationship established by the scientific method. Science thus represents for society the full development into mature understanding, the legitimate form of positive knowledge.


  1. Zola, p. 23.


  1. See W.T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy

(New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969), Vol. 4, p. 173.


  1. Zola, p. 29.


  1. Ibid., p. 26.


  1. Ibid., p. 25.


  1. Ibid.,


  1. Ibid.


  1. In Earle Labor, ed., Great Short Works of Jack London

(New York: Harper& Row,1970), pp. 283-300.


  1. Ibid., p. 290.


  1. Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (New York: St. Martin’s

Press, 1968).


  1. Ibid., p. 125.


  1. Ibid., p. 64.


  1. Ibid., p. 416.


  1. In The Earth, Zola depicts on a grand scale the passions

which govern the peasant and farmer in their struggle for

life. The earth is presented as a hard mother which peasant

and farmer struggle relentlessly to impregnate. The over-

whelming passion for possession of land results in lifelong

power struggles within and between families — struggles

which include murder, rape, the casting out of an elderly

parent, etc.


  1. In Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions

(New York: Philosophical Library, 1957), pp. 10-12.


  1. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (New York: Washington Square Press, 1966), pp. 680-707.


  1. Cited in Sartre, Being and Nothingness, p. 683.


  1. Ibid., p. 698.


  1. Printed in Walter Kaufmann, ed., Existentialism from

Dostoevsky to Sartre (New York : New American Library,

1975), pp. 281-299.


  1. Sartre, “The Wall,” p. 292.


  1. Sartre, Being and Nothingness, p. 682.


  1. Sartre, “The Wall,”p.294.


  1. Sartre, Being and Nothingness, p. 682.


  1. Sartre, “The Wall,” p. 294.


  1. Ibid., p. 289.



  1. Ibid., p. 287.


  1. Albert Camus, A Happy Death (New York: Alfred A. Knopf,         1972).


  1. Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

(New York: Random House, 1955), p. 41.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Ibid., p. 10.


  1. Gabriel Marcel, “Testimony and Existentialism,”

in The Philosophy of Existentialism (New York: Citadel

Press, 1956), p. 103.


  1. Quoted in Gabriel Marcel, Tragic Wisdom and Beyond (Evanston

IL: Northwestern University Press, 1973), p. 130.


  1. See Choron, Death in Western Thought, p. 259.


  1. In Marcel, The Philosophy of Existentialism, p. 11.


  1. Choron, p. 257.


  1. Ibid., p.255.


  1. Marcel, Tragic Wisdom and Beyond, p.124.


  1. Choron, p.259.


  1. Quoted in Choron, p. 257.


  1. Quoted in Choron, p. 257.


  1. Choron, p. 261.





Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays.

New York: Random House, 1955.


Camus, Albert. A Happy Death. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972.


Choron, Jacques. Death and Western Thought. New York: Collier

Books, 1963.


Hardy, Thomas. Jude the Obscure. New York: St. Martin’s Press



Jones, W.T. A History of Western Philosophy. Vol.4. New York :

Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1969.


London, Jack. “To Build a Fire.” In Earle Labor, ed.

Great Short Works of Jack London. New York: Harper and Row

1970, pp. 283-300.


Marcel, Gabriel. The Philosophy of Existentialism. New York :

The Citadel Press, 1956.


Marcel, Gabriel. Tragic Wisdom and Beyond. Evanston, IL: North-

Western University Press, 1973.


Sartre, Jean-Paul. “The Wall.” In Walter Kaufmann, ed.

Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre. New York: New         American Library, 1975, pp. 281-299.


Satre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness. New York: Washington   Square Press, 1953.


Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism and Human Emotions. New York:

Philosophical Library, 1957.


Zola, Emile. The Experimental Novel and Other Essays. New York:

Haskell House, 1964.

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