|"He who has a why to live for, can |
bear with almost any how." ~ Nietzsche
As a Holocaust survivor who spent three years in various concentration camps in Austria, Viktor Frankl was no stranger to suffering. As a man who went from being a newly married neurologist, to a number in a prison camp, his story makes for a study in despair. And yet Frankl gathers, from the ashes of his treacherous experiences, a wealth of insights about what makes a man go on.
Narrated in first person, the book recounts life in concentration camps with an almost clinical detachment. But also audible, is the anguish of an intellectual man unable to make peace with the misery he is undergoing . Taking the reader along the journey of his suffering, Frankl finds that divested of all human dignity and comfort, and shorn of all that is compassionate and beautiful in the world, life still holds meaning. He observes that when stripped of all hope and dignity, it is love, the ability to see humour, and an inner desire to find purpose, that allows a human being to live meaningfully. He concludes (by quoting the Doctor of Despair, Dostoevsky) that only by being worthy of one's suffering, can man find meaning.
"Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved."