English Literature Essay

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The Myth Of Sisyphus by Michael Bryant “And Sisyphus I saw in bitter pains, forcing a monstrous stone along with both his hands. Tugging with hand an foot, he pushed the stone upward along the hill. But when he thought to heave it on clean to the summit, a might power would turn it back; and so once more down to the ground the wicked stone would tumble. Again he strained to push it back; sweat ran down from his limbs, and from his head a dust cloud rose.” -HomerThe myth of Sisyphus stands as a timeless metaphor concisely teaching man of the human condition. The act of repeating a routine time and again with no final goal nor end in sight, though desperate, is vital to an understanding of what comprises a meaningful life. Camus calls the Sisyphean routine the absurd; “Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm” (12-13). In Women Henry Chinaski less eloquently coins it as “a duel to death in a cesspool” (217). But regardless of what it is called, according to Camus, the most important aspect of the absurd is when “one day the ‘why’ arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement” (13). This “why,” however, is merely the beginning of a quest in search of fundamental meaning and purpose in human life. What happens after this “why,” this admitting of futility in the everyday routine of modern American life, is what Charles Bukowski explores through his protagonal character Henry Chinaski. From the realization of the absurd in Ham on Rye to the model of conquering its inescapable qualities in Hollywood, Chinaski provides a model for living from an existential viewpoint freely and truly. It is on this existential journey through the routines of work, sex, and even leisure that Charles Bukowski shows

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