Existential Monday: Philosophical Essays

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New York Review of Books, May 17, 2016 - Philosophy - 160 pages

Benjamin Fondane—who was born and educated in Romania, moved as an adult to Paris, lived for a time in Buenos Aires, where he was close to Victoria Ocampo, Jorge Luis Borges’s friend and publisher, and died in Auschwitz—was an artist and thinker who found in every limit, in every border, “a torture and a spur.” Poet, critic, man of the theater, movie director, Fondane was the most daring of the existentialists, a metaphysical anarchist, affirming individual against those great abstractions that limit human freedom—the State, History, the Law, the Idea.
Existential Monday, the first selection of his philosophical work to appear in English, includes four of Fondane's most thought-provoking and important texts, "Existential Monday and the Sunday of History," "Preface for the Present Moment," "Man Before History" (co-translated by Andrew Rubens), and "Boredom." Here Fondane, until now little-known except to specialists, emerges as one of the enduring French philosophers of the twentieth century.


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A Note on the Text
Preface for the Present Moment

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About the author (2016)

Benjamin Fondane (1898–1944) was a Romanian Jew who emigrated to France in 1923 to pursue his love of French poetry and culture. While at law school in Bucharest, he spent most of his time writing for avant-garde literary periodicals. In Paris, Fondane worked at an insurance company and for Paramount Pictures while establishing himself as a poet and philosopher writing in French. Under the guidance of the Russian émigré philosopher Lev Shestov, Fondane became a leading exponent of existential philosophy in the 1930s. He also spent time in Argentina, at the invitation of Victoria Ocampo, lecturing on avant-garde film and directing a surrealist comedic film. In 1944, he was deported from France and killed at Auschwitz. In addition to Existential Monday, New York Review Books publishes a volume of his selected poetry, Cinepoems and Others.

Bruce Baugh is the author of French Hegel: From Surrealism to Postmodernismand numerous articles on Benjamin Fondane, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Paul Sartre, and other thinkers. An executive editor of Sartre Studies International from 2005 to 2015, he is currently a professor of philosophy at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, where he specializes in twentieth-century French thought.

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