How Do I define "the human condition" (hc) as it relates to contemporary literature and existentialism?   I am writing a final contemporary literature paper. I really don't know where to start with my opening statement. STRESSED

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I would suggest that one element of the human condition present in the modern realm of literature and existentialism is the notion of individual freedom.  In both realms, there is a strong idea that the role of freedom is of vital importance in helping to define individual identity.  Sartre once...

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I would suggest that one element of the human condition present in the modern realm of literature and existentialism is the notion of individual freedom.  In both realms, there is a strong idea that the role of freedom is of vital importance in helping to define individual identity.  Sartre once wrote, "Man's agony is the agony of choice," in attempting to articulate what it means to be human.  Part of this implication is the idea that freedom is a challenging, but inevitable component of consciousness.  There is no transcendent force that can operate to eliminate the painful and agonizing predicament of having to make choices between good and bad, good and good, and bad and bad.  These help to define who individuals are and what consciousness is.

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In general "the human condition" entails all that humans experience. With regard to contemporary literature and existentialism, the focus is upon the condition of the individual and his or her particular existence and the self-defining choices that one must make in dealing with the conditions of existence.

For your paper, you may wish to do some research to find which aspects of Existentialism relate to the author(s) and work(s) under considerations in your paper and then apply these in your discussion.  Contemporary literature entails the Modernist movement, as well, so this movement may be researched and applied in a similar fashion if the author falls into this category.  Moderism is a movement characterized by stream-of-consciousness and allusiveness.  Modernist writers attempted to come to terms with where humanity stood after Darwin, Marx, and Freud; they sought to create a new society out of their feelings of isolation and alienation; there was a struggle for one's place in the world and the need to establish order.  Some key features of modernism are as follows:

  • stream of consciousness characterized by association rather than logic
  • things seem to be falling apart
  • subjective time
  • pessimism and alinenation/loneliness

At times, it is fitting to define whichever elements the movement apply to the author/work of literature and then move into the discussion of the work, demonstrating how these elements apply to a particular work and author.

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