Is Existentialism a Genre?


Jane Flores

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice. It is often associated with writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger. However, the question remains whether existentialism can be considered a genre.

What is a genre?

A genre is a category of artistic composition characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter. For example, in literature, genres include poetry, drama, and fiction. Within these genres are sub-genres such as epic poetry or romantic comedy.

Is Existentialism a Literary Genre?

Existentialism cannot be considered a literary genre in the traditional sense. It is not characterized by specific formal elements or subject matter. Rather, it is a philosophical movement that deals with questions of existence and the human condition.

However, many literary works have been influenced by existentialist philosophy. Writers such as Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett explored existentialist themes in their works. These works often feature characters struggling with questions of meaning and purpose in life.

The Importance of Existentialism

Despite not being a literary genre per se, existentialism has had a profound impact on literature and culture as a whole. Its emphasis on individual freedom and choice has influenced writers across genres.

Furthermore, existentialist thought has had an impact beyond the realm of literature. Existentialist ideas have influenced fields such as psychology and sociology as well as popular culture.


In conclusion, while existentialism cannot be considered a literary genre in the traditional sense, its influence on literature and culture cannot be denied. Its emphasis on individual existence and freedom continues to resonate with readers across genres and mediums.

If you are interested in exploring existentialist themes further through literature or philosophy texts check out our recommended reading list below:

  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  • No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Being and Time by Martin Heidegger