A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
A year and a half after my book club read Man’s Search for Meaning, one of the members mused, “I think about that book ALL the time.” She’s not alone. Since the book was first published in 1946, it has sold over 10 million copies and been translated into 24 languages. A survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club placed it as one of the ten most influential books in America. Why?
For starters, the book was written while the author was a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps between 1942 and 1945. To read about that time and place is a way for those who were not there to experience it at some level, to attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible. Secondly, the author was a psychiatrist whose life work was logotherapy, which asserts that the primary drive in life is the discovery of what is meaningful. How does a man of such commitment face the ultimate test, of imprisonment in four concentration camps and the deaths of his parents, brother and pregnant wife?
He does so with the courage of his convictions and by looking ahead, “It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future…And this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence…” Further, he practices the dictum that, “Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.” Overriding everything is his knowledge of the meaning and purpose in his life, as he explains by quoting Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
Man’s Search for Meaning is deep without being difficult. While written under horrific circumstances, it is inspirational and uplifting. In short, it is an ideal book for individuals and book clubs wanting to search for more meaning in their own lives.
Review by Christine