Best Books About the Absurdity of the World

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Questioning the meaning of life? Feeling like everything is pointless? Look on the bright side, you’re not the only one, we’re all in the same gutter. Maybe reading these pieces will make you feel a little bit better. Or at least – less lonely.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (1952)

„The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.“

„Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.“

„People are bloody ignorant apes.“

The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925)

„It would have been so pointless to kill himself that, even if he had wanted to, the pointlessness would have made him unable.“

„It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.“

But I’m not guilty, said K, there’s been a mistake. How is it even possible for someone to be guilty? We’re all human beings here, one like the other. That is true – said the priest but that is how the guilty speak.

The stranger by Albert Camus (1942)

„I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.“

„There is not love of life without despair about life.“

Have you no hope at all? And do you really live with the thought that when you die, you die, and nothing remains? Yes, I said.“

Bouvard and Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert (1881)

What is the point of it all?

Perhaps there isn’t a point.

Yet… and Pécuchet repeated the word two or three times, without finding anything more to say.“

„As for God, it is impossible to know how he is, or even if he is! Once he was the cause of wind, thunder, revolutions. Now he is getting smaller. Besides, I don’t see what use he is.“

Crime and punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)

„Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.“

„And the more I drink the more I feel it. That’s why I drink too. I try to find sympathy and feeling in drink…. I drink so that I may suffer twice as much!“

“Power is given only to him who dares to stoop and take it … one must have the courage to dare.“

„People with new ideas, people with the faintest capacity for saying something new, are extremely few in number, extraordinarily so, in fact.“

Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (1938)

„My thought is me: that’s why I can’t stop. I exist because I think… and I can’t stop myself from thinking. At this very moment – it’s frightful – if I exist, it is because I am horrified at existing. I am the one who pulls myself from the nothingness to which I aspire.“

„Nothing happens while you live. The scenery changes, people come in and go out, that’s all. There are no beginnings. Days are tacked on to days without rhyme or reason, an interminable, monotonous addition.“

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

„He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.“

„There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. That’s some catch, that Catch-22, he observed.“

„Well, he died. You don’t get any older than that.“

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse (1927)

„You are willing to die, you coward, but not to live.“

„In eternity there is no time, only an instant long enough for a joke.“

„The man of power is ruined by power, the man of money by money, the submissive man by subservience, the pleasure seeker by pleasure.“

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)

„All I know is this: nobody’s very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.“

„You had a choice: you could either strain and look at things that appeared in front of you in the fog, painful as it might be, or you could relax and lose yourself.“

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (1984)

„In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.“

„There is no perfection, only life.“

„Dogs do not have many advantages over people, but one of them is extremely important: euthanasia is not forbidden by law in their case; animals have the right to a merciful death.“

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