Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Lawrence Broer, Ph.D.


Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Philosophy, Existential psychology


The purpose of my research is to examine the philosophic influences on three literary works: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon, and Norman Mailer's An American Dream. Through an investigation of biographical, historical, cultural, and textual evidence, I will argue for the influence of several European philosophers---Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, and Martin Heidegger---on these authors and on the structures and messages of their works. I will discuss how the specific works I have selected not only reveal each author's apt understanding of the existential-philosophical crises facing the individual in the twentieth century, but also reveal these authors' attempt to disseminate philosophic instruction on the "art of living" to their post-war American readers. I will argue that Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Mailer address what they see as the universal philosophical crises of their generations in the form of literary art by appropriating and translating the existential concerns of existence to American interests and concerns. I will argue that Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Mailer's emphasis on the individual's personal responsibility to first become self-aware and then to strive to see the world more clearly and truly reflects their own sense of responsibility as authors and artists of their generations, a point of view that repositions these authors as prophets, seers, healers, so to speak, of their times. Finally, I will discuss how, in An American Dream, Mailer builds on the Americanized existential foundations laid by Fitzgerald and Hemingway through his explicit invocation of and subtle references to the art and ideas of his literary-philosophic predecessors---Fitzgerald and Hemingway.