Literature Study GuidesThe Myth Of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus | Study Guide

Albert Camus

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Albert Camus

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At a Glance

The Myth of Sisyphus, a collection of essays defining absurdism, is considered an important philosophical work of the 20th century, adjacent to the philosophies of existentialism and nihilism. As a writer, Camus wrote both fiction and nonfiction, but his philosophical ideas can be found even within his works of fiction. In his essays defining his philosophy of the absurd, Camus draws upon references to other philosophers, novelists, and dramatists to demonstrate why the absurd should be seriously considered as a means of navigating life. Camus attempts to liberate people internally by defining the problem of consciousness as the human tendency—and need—to impose meaning and order upon a world that has no discernible unity and is indifferent to its inhabitants. Camus also sees human beings as not belonging in the world because their consciousness causes them to be aware that they are separate from its indifference to them. He urges his readers to accept this reality, and the reality of death, and, consequently, live life to its fullest by seeing it as an adventure in which a large number of diverse experiences, as well as artistic creativity, can offer excitement and hope.

The Myth of Sisyphus argues against the tendency to use religion as a way of finding meaning in life. Since human beings cannot be certain of God or immortality, they should not willfully blind themselves and submit to an idea that cannot be seen or touched, Camus says. The collection's questioning of religion is reflective of a time in which fewer people belonged to organized religions, a time that was marked by unprecedented loss of human life because of war. In conversation with the philosophical and literary works that came before his, Camus adds to philosophy ideas that are unique to the era in which he lived. The Myth of Sisyphus remains relevant today as a philosophical influence that has impacted culture and art. Camus's thoughtful insights provide a new interpretation in considering the meaning of existence and how to accept the absurdity of life yet live it to the fullest.

About the Title

The Myth of Sisyphus refers to the Greek myth of Sisyphus, a Greek king who was condemned by the gods to push a large boulder up a steep mountain, where it would roll back down again once he reached the top. Sisyphus was forced to retrieve the boulder and push it up the mountain again, over and over for eternity. Camus finds an element of his philosophy of the absurd in Sisyphus's plight, given his acceptance of the futility of his fate.


This study guide for Albert Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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