The Greatest Bosnian, German "Existentialist" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Existentialist literature is a genre that explores the meaning and purpose of human existence, often through the lens of individual experience and subjective perception. These books often delve into themes of freedom, choice, and responsibility, and may challenge traditional notions of morality and societal norms. Existentialist literature can be introspective and philosophical, and may offer readers a unique perspective on the human condition and the search for meaning in a complex and often chaotic world.

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  1. 1. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

    In this novel, the protagonist, a young, ordinary man, visits his cousin at a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps. Intending to stay for only a few weeks, he ends up remaining there for seven years, becoming a patient himself. The book explores his experiences and relationships with other patients and staff, delving into philosophical discussions on life, time, and the nature of disease. It also provides a vivid portrayal of the European society and intellectual life on the eve of World War I.

    The 43rd Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

    The novel presents a poignant exploration of a man's struggle with his dual nature. The protagonist, a middle-aged man, finds himself torn between his humanistic, intellectual tendencies and his more primitive, wolf-like instincts. As he navigates his way through the surreal and sometimes hallucinatory world, he encounters various characters who challenge his views and push him towards self-discovery and transformation. The narrative delves into themes of alienation, the subconscious mind, and the search for meaning in life.

    The 148th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

    This philosophical novel explores the idea of the Übermensch, or "Overman," a superior human being who has achieved self-mastery and created personal meaning in life. The protagonist, Zarathustra, descends from his solitary life in the mountains to share his wisdom with humanity. Through a series of speeches and encounters, he challenges traditional beliefs about good, evil, truth, and religion, and advocates for the transcendence of man into a higher form of existence. The book is noted for its critique of morality, its poetic and often cryptic language, and its exploration of complex philosophical concepts.

    The 282nd Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

    Set in the 23rd century, the novel revolves around a highly intellectual game, the Glass Bead Game, which incorporates all fields of human and cosmic knowledge. The story follows the life of Joseph Knecht, a scholar who becomes a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game). The book explores his life and thoughts, including his relationships with others and his questioning of the values of his society. The narrative is a profound exploration of human life, knowledge, and spirituality.

    The 394th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke

    "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge" is a semi-autobiographical novel narrated by a young man from Denmark living in Paris, who is trying to understand the world and his place in it. The protagonist is a poet and a dreamer, who spends his time observing and reflecting on the people and situations around him. The book is a collection of his thoughts, observations, and musings, which often revolve around themes of death, solitude, history, and the nature of existence. It's a deep and introspective exploration of the human condition and the nature of creativity.

    The 513th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Being and Time by Martin Heidegger

    Being and Time is a seminal work that explores the concept of "being" through a detailed analysis of human existence. The book delves into existential and phenomenological thought, examining how humans relate to the world and their own existence. The author argues that people are always "being-in-the-world" and that understanding this fundamental state is crucial to comprehending the broader concept of being. The work also introduces the concept of "Dasein," a term used to describe the specific type of being that humans possess.

    The 893rd Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke

    "The Duino Elegies" is a collection of ten elegies that delve into the complexities of human existence, exploring themes of love, death, time, God, and the nature of reality. The author uses vivid and often unsettling imagery to convey a sense of the profound beauty and pain inherent in the human experience. The elegies are named after the castle of Duino, where the author began writing them, and they are renowned for their introspective depth and philosophical insight.

    The 1098th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

    "Beyond Good and Evil" is a philosophical work that challenges the moral conventions of the time, arguing that concepts of good and evil are not absolute but are instead social constructs. The book delves into the nature of individual morality, asserting that it is driven by self-interest and the will to power. It also criticizes past philosophers for their unquestioning acceptance of religious and societal norms, and promotes the idea of the "overman" or "superman", a superior human who embraces his instincts and creates his own values.

    The 1115th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Death and the Dervish by Meša Selimović

    In "Death and the Dervish", the protagonist is a dervish in the 18th century Ottoman Empire, who embarks on a mission to find his imprisoned brother. As he navigates through the complex and corrupt bureaucracy, he grapples with questions of morality, justice, and the nature of power. The story explores themes of existentialism and the struggle for meaning in a world marked by suffering and injustice.

    The 1642nd Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Demian by Hermann Hesse

    The novel follows the life of a young man, Emil Sinclair, from childhood to adulthood, as he navigates the duality of his nature and the societal expectations of his time. He is influenced by a charismatic and intellectual peer, Max Demian, who introduces him to the concept of the world not as a dichotomy of good and evil, but as a unified whole. This leads Sinclair on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment, exploring themes of identity, morality, and the subconscious. The narrative is heavily influenced by the philosophies of Carl Jung and the Gnostic tradition.

    The 1654th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. The Glass Bees by Ernst Jünger

    "The Glass Bees" is a novel set in a future dystopian society, where technology has advanced to the point where robotic bees are being used for honey production. The story follows a former cavalryman who, desperate for employment, accepts a job from a powerful technocrat to test out these mechanical bees. As the protagonist gets more involved in the technocrat's world, he begins to question the morality and implications of such advancements, leading to a deep exploration of the intersection between technology and nature, and the potential consequences of unchecked technological progress.

    The 2471st Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche

    The book in question is a philosophical work that delves into the author's ideas on morality, truth, and the nature of human existence. It is known for its poetic and aphoristic style, presenting a critique of contemporary culture and the Western intellectual tradition. The author introduces the concept of the "eternal recurrence" and famously proclaims the "death of God," challenging readers to confront the implications of a world devoid of divine authority and to embrace the potential for creating their own values. The work is a celebration of art, science, and the joyous wisdom that comes from living a life of intellectual inquiry and creative freedom.

    The 2913th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. The Perennial Scope Of Philosophy by Karl Jaspers

    The book in question explores the enduring nature of philosophical inquiry, examining how it transcends temporal and cultural boundaries to address fundamental questions of existence, knowledge, and ethics. The author argues that philosophy is not confined to any particular era or dogma but is a continuous pursuit of truth that evolves with human thought while remaining rooted in the quest for universal understanding. Through a critical examination of historical philosophical movements and their contributions to the ongoing dialogue, the work emphasizes the importance of philosophy in providing a framework for individuals to confront the mysteries of life and the universe, encouraging readers to engage in their own philosophical contemplation.

    The 3298th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich

    "The Courage to Be" is a philosophical work that explores the concept of courage in the face of existential threats and anxieties. The author argues that courage is not simply a bold act in the face of physical danger, but also the strength to affirm one's own being in spite of non-being, despair, and death. The book also discusses the role of God as the ultimate source of courage and suggests that embracing our existential anxieties can lead to self-affirmation and spiritual growth.

    The 3481st Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Lenz by Georg Buchner

    "Lenz" is a novella that explores the mind of Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, a historical figure and playwright, during his descent into madness. The narrative presents a detailed account of Lenz's mental state as he struggles with depression, anxiety, and hallucinations while living in the mountains. It provides a profound look into the human psyche and the effects of isolation and mental illness.

    The 3813th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. The Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist by Friedrich Nietzsche

    "The Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist" is a philosophical work that critiques the moral and religious values of Western society. The author argues that these values, particularly those of Christianity, are not only false but harmful to society, as they suppress human instincts and hinder humanity's progress. He proposes a new moral system based on individual strength, intellectual honesty, and the affirmation of life, and criticizes the belief in an afterlife. The book is a radical critique of established religion and morality, and a call for a reevaluation of values.

    The 3813th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin

    "The Arcades Project" is a comprehensive and intricate examination of 19th-century Parisian life, focusing on the iron-and-glass shopping arcades that emerged as early forms of the shopping mall. Compiled from a vast array of notes and writings, the work delves into the city's architectural and urban transformations, exploring how these spaces influenced aspects of culture, politics, and everyday life. Through a montage of quotations, reflections, and critical commentary, the book presents a fragmented yet profound analysis of modernity, capturing the intersection of history, philosophy, and social theory.

    The 5248th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. The Birth Of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche

    The book in question explores the origins and significance of ancient Greek tragedy. It presents a philosophical critique of the development of art, contrasting the Apollonian elements of structure, order, and beauty with the Dionysian aspects of chaos, passion, and instinct. The author argues that Greek tragedy arose from the synthesis of these two forces, embodying a balance that allowed for the expression of profound existential and metaphysical truths. As the work progresses, it delves into the decline of tragedy due to the influence of Socratic rationalism and the subsequent loss of a vital cultural force capable of confronting the inherent suffering of human existence. The text is both a work of aesthetic theory and a profound inquiry into the nature of human experience.

    The 5305th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Minima Moralia by Theodor Adorno

    "Minima Moralia" is a collection of aphoristic essays that delve into the intricacies of modern life under capitalism and the pervasive influence of the culture industry. Written during the author's exile in the mid-20th century, the work reflects on the erosion of individuality and the subtle tyrannies of conformity and ideological manipulation. The essays blend philosophy, sociology, and cultural critique, offering profound insights into the human condition and the social dynamics of contemporary society. Through its critical examination of everyday phenomena, the book challenges readers to reconsider their perceptions of normality and ethics in a rapidly changing world.

    The 5542nd Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. What Is Called Thinking? by Martin Heidegger

    The book explores the nature of thought and understanding, delving into the essence of what it means to think. The author challenges the traditional views of thinking as mere cognition or problem-solving, proposing instead that true thinking is a profound engagement with being itself. Through a detailed examination of the works of philosophers, poets, and other thinkers, the text invites readers to reconsider the relationship between thought, language, and the essence of humanity, emphasizing the need for authenticity in the process of thinking and the transformative potential it holds for understanding our existence.

    The 5542nd Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Marat Sade by Peter Weiss

    The play is a dramatic exploration of power, class struggle, and human suffering set within the confines of an insane asylum in 1808 France. It depicts the Marquis de Sade as an inmate directing his fellow patients in a play about the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, a radical journalist and politician during the French Revolution. The work delves into the philosophical and political debates between Sade and Marat, representing differing views on revolution, freedom, and the nature of humanity. As the inmates perform, the line between performance and reality blurs, creating a provocative and chaotic theater experience that challenges the audience's perception of madness and reason.

    The 6145th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Aphorisms by Novalis

    This book is a collection of philosophical reflections and maxims that delve into the nature of human experience, art, and spirituality. The author, a prominent figure of early German Romanticism, uses concise and often poetic language to explore themes such as the interconnectedness of the universe, the role of the poet and the philosopher in society, and the pursuit of knowledge and self-awareness. The work is characterized by its depth and the author's belief in the power of imagination and the transcendental qualities of the human mind, offering readers a contemplative journey through a series of thought-provoking and introspective insights.

    The 7191st Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. The Will To Power by Friedrich Nietzsche

    The book in question is a posthumously published collection of notes and fragments that explores the author's ideas on the driving force of human ambition and achievement, which he terms as the "will to power." It delves into various subjects such as art, science, morality, and the nature of truth, offering a critique of traditional values and a reevaluation of existence. The work is a cornerstone of the author's philosophy, reflecting his critical stance on religion, metaphysics, and the prevailing moral systems of his time, while advocating for a reimagining of human potential and the creation of new values.

    The 7191st Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.