This volume provides basic writings of Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Rilke, Kafka, Ortega, Jaspers, Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus, including some not previously translated, along with an invaluable introductory essay by [the editor].
It is actually quite nice. When people talk about existentialism, usually it is a term without a concrete definition. In fact, as Kaufman puts, existentialism is not belonged to any school of thought. It is indeed a self-reflection of every self-conscious individuals, who questions their own existence and their feelings. To explain it in an over-simplified manner, existentialism is only a way of thinking, but the conclusion derives from this thinking could be diversified. Therefore it is not easy, or actually impossible to give a general statement explaining what "existentialism" is. And for this book, Kaufman tried to explain this ideology not through his own words, but the words of other "existential" philosophers/writers. Indeed, it is questionable to include Dostoevsky as well as Camus in this school of thinking. However, the selected writings show the feature of introspective scrutiny of their existence and their fate.
To me, it is better to read their own writings instead of reading other "introductory" books to understand what existentialism is. It is because those books only shows you the perspective of the author, which is already an distortion already. So for those who really wants to know more about this school of philosophy, I will incline to recommend this book instead.
BTW, I saw the simplified Chinese translation of the same book in Beijing. I immediately realized it is the very same book I was reading. Seems that I have an exceptional affinity with it. wahahah....Continua