Good evening pals, and welcome to Kiera’s Monday Book Corner.
Firstly let me apologise for the lateness of this post. If you’re here because you’ve seen me bragging about the Book Corner on Instagram, specifically the post which promised this first entry to be put up this afternoon, I’m sorry I’m late. Aside from the fact that I am nearly always late, my windscreen wipers snapped off the car the other day and I took the opportunity this sunny afternoon to go and get them welded back on, so I was very busy.
The good news is that I’ve made it. It is Monday still and the Monday Book Corner’s first post has made it to the site just in time. Phew.
This week’s read is a book that I admittedly have read once before, sometime last year, but decided to give it another go this week after remembering how profoundly moving and beautiful and tragic it was. This week’s entry is Dr. Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” (available here).
I found this book last year by chance on the cookery shelf in my college library (wrongly placed, I assure you) during a tough time I was having, having returned from Vienna disillusioned and worn out from the building stress of final year. It was like fate (which I absolutely believe in, by the way) because it made me think in a completely different way and open my eyes to the magic of the world.
Viktor Frankl was, in a nutshell, a successor of Sigmund Freud – a hugely successful Viennese psychoanalyst. He was also a survivor of the Holocaust, the experiences of which are the main focus of this short autobiography. But what is really special is that, instead of listing endless descriptions and accounts of the hideous goings-on in the camp he was in (Auschwitz, at first, followed by a smaller camp affiliated with Dachau), he outlines the psychological process of the prisoner from the moment he is captured and brought to a camp until he is freed, if he manages to reach that moment. He describes the moments of joy shared between prisoners which might have been due to earning an extra ration of bread on a particularly cold day or to the moments of kindness shown to them by an uncommonly empathetic prison guard. He guides the reader down the mental path of the prisoner as he fights for his life, and even goes as far as to say that as soon as a man thought he was going to die, he usually did. It was the prisoner who remembered his innate worth and the reasons he had for living who made it through the tumultuous years in the Concentration Camp and made it out alive afterwards.
Frankl’s overall message is that a human is on Earth for a purpose, whatever that purpose may be. Following his autobiographical account, there is a second part which briefly outlines Frankl’s school, known as Logotherapy (“logos” coming from the Greek word for “meaning”). He presents a way of thinking which ultimately led to his resilience within the camp and ensured his survival.
Best bits: The constant streak of optimism that threads throughout the distressing story, and the way it made me feel. If you think you’re having a bad day because there was no coffee left for you in the morning or your car broke down while you were hurrying somewhere, think again.
Best quote: “The truth [is] that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: the salvation of man is through love and in love.”
Could have been better: It couldn’t really have been better in any way – and how can you say a person’s account of his or her life can be any better or worse than the way they tell it anyway? – but I wish I knew more about what happened to Frankl after the war ended. The Nazi’s had confiscated his life works – did he manage to write the very same papers again? Did he find love again? Where did he go and live after Vienna was destroyed? I get obsessed, you see, and that’s my problem, not a problem with this book.
If you feel like reading something that’s going to change your perception of actually being, this is a book for you. I hope you enjoyed my wee account and that you’ll consider having a look at Man’s Search for Meaning.
In the meantime, feel free to comment if you’ve read it or anything similar! I’m dying to read more amazing things 🙂
‘Til next time, kisses,