chapter
Introduction
WithHelmut Kuhn

The American novel is among the influences that have shaped the Existentialist movement in France. An American, Reinhold Niebuhr, is prominent in the Existentialist trend of Protestant theology; the American drama, especially with Eugene O’Neill and Maxwell Anderson, is imbued with Existentialist ideas, and so is the poetry of W. H. Auden. The truth of Existentialism is not limited to that of a cultural symptom. Contemporary Existentialism can be described as a renaissance of Soren Kierkegaard, one of the titanic sufferers of the anticlassic age. Existentialism as it comes in touch with the living mind arrests its normal processes of thought and will, and then again precipitates them into fresh activity. Existentialism is faithful to the law in our minds. In spite of the highly technical language of the book, one might describe Jean-Paul Sartre’s L’etre et le neant, one of the chief documents of contemporary Existentialism, as “journalism.”