Professor’s new book boxes with life’s challenges

With help from a few philosophical heavyweights, St. Olaf College Professor of Philosophy Gordon Marino offers readers an opportunity to face life’s struggles.

His new book, The Existentialist’s Survival Guide (HarperOne), has just been released and reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. In the book, Marino thinks alongside philosophers like Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Albert Camus. Together they provide some much-needed insights on everything from love to death.

“I’ve been hanging around with these guys for 30-some years, and it seems to me that I ought to be able to distill some of their wisdom,” Marino says. “I’ve suffered from anxiety, depression, and all kinds of troubles, many of them self-inflicted. More than articulating abstract theories, I try to provide personal examples of the ways in which this motley crew of thinkers, known as existentialists, have positively impacted my life.”

He hopes his book stands as an honest reflection of philosophy’s teaching power and that his readers might come away with some new perspectives on their own lives, how they want to live, and what kind of person they want to be.

“The main reason that I was attracted to Kierkegaard and company was that they, more than any other group of philosophers, seem to address our inner obstacles such as anxiety and the funk more directly and perceptively than anyone else.”

“Most people find it easy to be a decent human being when they have all green lights. But it is not so easy to be a kind and upstanding person when we encounter the suffering that is inevitable in life,” he says. “Maybe the main reason that I was attracted to Kierkegaard and company was that they, more than any other group of philosophers, seem to address our inner obstacles such as anxiety and the funk more directly and perceptively than anyone else.”

Marino is an internationally recognized journalist who regularly contributes to publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In addition to his teaching and writing, Marino also serves as curator of the Howard and Edna Hong Kierkegaard Library.