The Reader’s Bill of Rights includes the right to reread. One thing I do not consider myself to be is a ‘rereader’. But if I had a very small shelf labelled ‘Reread’, it would have ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ on it, right beside the Narnia Chronicles, What’s So Amazing About Grace, and Supper of the Lamb. My copy of this book is heavily underlined and there are lots of jottings in the margins – also makes it quicker to reread!
This is a profound and important book. In our culture the pursuit of pleasure has become the ultimate goal, but this leaves us so empty in our human condition and in the problem of pain. Happiness is not something that man can pursue, it must ensue. No matter what our situation, we can find meaning in our lives.
Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl spends the first part of the book telling his own story of his time in Auschwitz. Though difficult to read, it does give a context for the author and it does let the reader know that the author is speaking from personal experience and has road-tested his ideas. Incidentally, his ideas on logotherapy were already developed before his stay in the camp, and in trying to remember and refine his confiscated manuscript during that time, he was able to find meaning in his experience and go on to help others find meaning in their lives.
What I appreciated most is that he does not come up with a “one size fits all” solution to the problem of pain, but recommends a creative attitude unique to each individual, and it has way more depth than just being positive. Everyone who reads this book will come away with their own learning, just for them.