How can a single book be at once incomprehensibly harrowing … and yet also extraordinarily empowering?
Prior to this weekend, I would have said that I did not know. Then I read Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
And now I know.
A remarkable autobiographical achievement
You may have already read this book. It is likely you have at least heard of it.
This book is a remarkable achievement combining compelling storytelling, deep insight into the human condition, and scientific explanation.
And it’s autobiographical. Which is what causes the words on each page to cut right through your eyes and into your heart, even into your soul.
Viktor Frankl was one of millions of Jews placed in concentration camps during World War II. The first part of Man’s Search For Meaning is his description of what his time in the concentration camps was like.
What Frankl describes — the dehumanization, the squalorous conditions, the intense physical abuse — has to be among the most horrific prose ever committed to paper.
And yet somehow, the throughline of this book is about hope. About meaning. About love.
But … how?
How can a man subjected to such atrocities — he lost his dear wife, and his life’s work was ripped from his hands as he entered the camp, in addition to the daily terror — maintain his will not just to live, but to suffer with both dignity and purpose? And to make it all mean something?
Because Viktor Frankl does not believe that circumstances make the man.
He believes — or came to believe, after his experiences in Auschwitz — that man “does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.” Even when that existence is inside of a concentration camp. And even when that next moment may be the most physically, mentally, or emotionally painful of his life.
“In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning,” he writes. After you’ve read his story, and become acquainted with the scientific theories he developed, you believe him.
This is why when you are done reading, and you close Man’s Search For Meaning, you realize that you somehow feel uplifted.
Yes, a book that spends the majority of its pages describing events in concentration camps will uplift you.
If you haven’t read it, please do
I have so much to say about this book, and will write about it in future blog posts. For now, I want to get it into your hands as quickly as possible.
Which is why it is the next book in the Primility Library.
- Click here to get on the list to receive it.
- If you are not yet registered for the forum, register here. Then go here to get on the list.
- And if you’re already read Man’s Search For Meaning, let’s discuss it here or in the comment section below.
(If you have any questions about how the Primility Library works, read this.)
And if you want to read the book but don’t want to wait to receive it in the Primility Library rotation, click here to buy it immediately on Amazon.
I look forward to discussing this book with you. More to come about it soon.
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Shawn Carpenter
[Editor’s note: The links to Man’s Search For Meaning included above are affiliate links to Amazon. This means that if you click on the link and buy the book, a small commission is paid to the site. This helps us to pay the cost of the books in the Primility library and for the wristbands sent to each new email subscriber. We greatly appreciate your support!]