The Denial of Death
Winner of the 1974 Pulitzer Prize and the culmination of Ernest Becker’s life’s work, The Denial of Death is one of the twentieth-century’s great works. In it, Ernest Becker passionately seeks to understand the basis of human existence. Addressing the fundamental fact of existence as man’s refusal to acknowledge his own mortality, Becker sheds new light on humanity and the meaning of life itself.
Becker views human civilisation and achievement as an attempt to transcend a sense of mortality as mankind seeks heroic acts (a sense of heroism is the central fact of human nature) to become part of something eternal; even though the physical body will die one day life can still have meaning and a greater significance. In the modern world much conflict between religions, nations and ideologies are the result of contradictory ‘immortality projects’ (Becker’s term for an attempt to create something eternal) but Becker looks for new and more convincing immortality projects that can restore the heroic sense, as well as bringing about a better world.
Drawing together an astounding array of fields, from psychology and philosophy to religion and the human sciences Ernest Becker’s work has had a lasting cultural impact.
Ernest Becker taught at Simon Fraser University in Canada, where his work drew on that of Kierkegaard, Freud, Wilhelm Reich and Otto Rank. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for The Denial of Death (two months after his death from cancer).
“A brave work of electrifying intelligence and passion, optimistic and revolutionary, destined to endure.”
‘New York Times Book Review’
“It is hard to overestimate the importance of this book: Becker succeeds brilliantly in what he sets out to do, and the effort was necessary.”
‘The Chicago Sun-Times’
“It puts together what others have torn to pieces and rendered useless. It is one of those rare masterpieces that will stimulate your thoughts, your intellectual curiosity, and last but not least, your soul.”
‘Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of Death and Dying‘
“One of the few great books of the 20th or any other century.”
‘Albuquerque Journal Book Review’
“Meditating on death and its influence on our culture… that the fear of death is the single motivating fact of human endeavour and that all art and philosophy come from trying to deal with obsolescence.”
‘The Catholic Herald’
“Concerns the ‘universality of the fear of death’… Its approach is more philosophical than psychologically or medically empirical.”