VOTW: William Barrett, Author Of ‘Irrational Man’

The name of the new film written and directed by Woody Allen due out later this year has a name – and it will be Irrational Man. It is a title that has already been taken – by a famous book by William Barrett. The book’s full title is ‘Irrational Man: A Study In Existential Philosophy‘ and is a primer on existentialism, a pivotal work in the field of philosophy.

Barrett was a professor of philosophy New York University from 1950-1979. He published his book ‘Irrational Man‘ in 1958 and is credited with bringing existentialist philosophy to the English speaking world. Here’s the cover:


We know philosophy will play a big role in Allen’s film. Joaquin Phoenix plays a philosophy professor, and it is his questioning of his own beliefs that kicks off the story.

Our video(s) this week are the only video footage we could find of Barrett, talking about existentialism. It’s from the BBC in 1978 (20 years on from his book), and can get pretty tough going. But it is interesting insight into what could be major themes of Allen’s new film.

Existentialism plays a huge part in Allen’s work. In one sense, it became vogue when Allen was starting his career. The big questions in these video – what is the meaning of existence? What is my life if there is death? He has explored these ideas most forcefully in two dramas – Crimes And Misdemeanor and Match Point.

We will see how deeply ‘Irrational Man‘ dives into these themes, although we’ve heard it is a very serious film.

Irrational Man‘ will be released in the US on 24th July 2015.


You may also like

Leave a Reply