Reading List: Philosophy & Fiction

One of my dreams is to teach a course on philosophical fiction. In case reality is ever kind enough to let me at it, I keep a list of books and articles (both fiction and nonfiction) that I think would be good for the course.

I figure I have a maximum of about 1,000 more novels I can read in my lifetime, and so I know there’s many more great, philosophically interesting novels out there than I can ever get to.  And I may never get to teach the course, but I thought the list might be useful to others who get the opportunity. So feel free to crib, and, if you have strong suggestions, I’d love to add them to the list.

Right now, here’s the ones that are high enough on my list that I can’t leave them off:


    • The Magus, John Fowles (My favorite novel, if I ever had to pick one. Certainly the novel that has had the greatest importance in my life.)
    • Perfume, Patrick Suskind (To be read alongside some sensory phenomenology texts by Sartre and Marleau-Ponty, and possibly Nausea.)
    • Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre
    • American Psycho (selections), Brett Easton Ellis (To be read alongside, and as a sort of 21st Century companion to Notes From The Underground.)
    • Notes From The Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    • The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    • Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche
    • The Trial, Franz Kafka
    • A Message From The King, Franz Kafka
    • The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
    • The Left Hand Of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
    • The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russel
    • Kindred, Octavia Butler
    • Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood
    • “Everything that Rises Must Converge”, Flannery O’Connor
    • Stories Of Your Life And Others, Ted Chiang
    • A Severed Head, Iris Murdoch
    • Solaris, Stanislaw Lem (To be read alongside some philosophy of language by Wittgenstein, and maybe Quine.
    • The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
    • Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson
    • Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro
    • The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter
    • Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
    • Nightwork, Christine Schutt
    • The Haunting Of Hill House, Shirley Jackson (To be read alongside some Heidegger on mood, and Schopenhauer on music as spirit.)
    • Zami: A New Spelling Of My Name, Audre Lorde (Strongly recommended by Caroline Porter, at UNC Chapel Hill.)
    • The Black Cloud, by Fred Hoyle (Along with ss. from The Meaning of Life reader. Also, with discussions on mereology and metaphysics of persons.)


    • “The Moral Psychology of Fiction”, Gregory Currie
    • “Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality”, Kendall Walton
    • “The Defense of Poesy”, Sir Philip Sidney
    • “Spiritual Exercisesfrom Philosophy As A Way Of Life, Pierre Hardot
    • The Human Condition (selections), Hannah Arendt
    • Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche
    • Herculine Barbin, Herculine Adelaide Barbin (ed. Michel Foucault) (Not fiction, but certainly literary memoirs have a place here.)
    • Love’s Knowledge: Essays On Philosophy And Literature, Martha Nussbaum
    • How Should A Person Be?, Sheila Heti
    • What We See When We Read, Peter Mendelsund (An insightful, and beautifully illustrated phenomenology of reading from a very skilled graphic artist.)
    • Being And Time (selections from ss.2 on Mood), Martin Heidegger
    • The World As Will And Representation (ss. on Music), Arthur Schopenhauer
    • The Meaning of Life: A Reader, by Cahn and Klemke (eds.)

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Michael Glawson

Ethics, policy, & ideas geek. Alt-Ac Ph.D. Épater la bourgeoisie. ⛎

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