Suggested reading: The five best novels about Stoicism

by Donald Robertson

One of the most commonly asked questions about Stoicism is whether there are any novels dealing with this philosophy. The question often gets quite varied responses, including lots of references to poker-faced or unemotional characters. There’s a big difference between Batman, though, or Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”, on the one hand, and Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius, on the other. All over the Internet, people tend to confuse “stoicism” (lowercase), the unemotional personality trait or coping style, with “Stoicism” (capitalized), the ancient Greek philosophy — two quite different things.

What if you are not looking for cold-blooded stoic characters, though, but for works of fiction that contain some genuine Stoic philosophy? Fortunately, there are a handful of interesting novels whose characters explicitly discuss Stoicism. These books vary enormously in style and content and will probably appeal to different types of readers. However, they can all contribute something of value to our appreciation of ancient Stoic philosophy. … (continue at Medium)

Published by Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

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