The Last Messiah by Peter Wessel Zapffe: Overview and Critical Analysis

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The Last Messiah is a 1933 essay written by the Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe. The essay encapsulates Zapffe’s view on the human condition and stands out as an important work in the sphere of philosophical pessimism. The views expressed can be classed as a kind of evolutionary existentialism, in that Zapffe propounds a view on the nature of human existence that incorporates an evolutionary perspective. The Last Messiah summarises the thoughts that Zapffe would later express in his philosophy doctoral thesis On the Tragic (1941). The horror writer Thomas Ligotti also frequently references Zapffe’s essay in his non-fiction, pessimistic work The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (2010).

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Originally published at on June 3, 2020.

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