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Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855)

Author of Fear and Trembling

531+ Works 29,010 Members 184 Reviews 116 Favorited

About the Author

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Søren Kierkegaard was the son of a wealthy middle-class merchant. He lived all his life on his inheritance, using it to finance his literary career. He studied theology at the University of Copenhagen, completing a master's thesis in 1841 on the topic of irony in show more Socrates. At about this time, he became engaged to a woman he loved, but he broke the engagement when he decided that God had destined him not to marry. The years 1841 to 1846 were a period of intense literary activity for Kierkegaard, in which he produced his "authorship," a series of writings of varying forms published under a series of fantastic pseudonyms. Parallel to these, he wrote a series of shorter Edifying Discourses, quasi-sermons published under his own name. As he later interpreted it in the posthumously published Point of View for My Work as an Author, the authorship was a systematic attempt to raise the question of what it means to be a Christian. Kierkegaard was persuaded that in his time people took the meaning of the Christian life for granted, allowing all kinds of worldly and pagan ways of thinking and living to pass for Christian. He applied this analysis especially to the speculative philosophy of German idealism. After 1846, Kierkegaard continued to write, publishing most works under his own name. Within Denmark he was isolated and often despised, a man whose writings had little impact in his own day or for a long time afterward. They were translated into German early in the twentieth century and have had an enormous influence since then, on both Christian theology and the existentialist tradition in philosophy. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Søren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling (1843) 4,107 copies
The Sickness Unto Death (1849) 2,277 copies
Either/Or: A Fragment of Life (1843) 1,938 copies
The Concept of Anxiety (1844) 1,200 copies
Works of Love (1847) 1,102 copies
A Kierkegaard Anthology (1946) 1,082 copies
The Seducer's Diary (1843) 984 copies
Training in Christianity (1848) 644 copies
The Essential Kierkegaard (1996) 583 copies
The Present Age (1847) 549 copies
Philosophical Fragments (1844) 479 copies
Parables of Kierkegaard (1978) 310 copies
Christian Discourses (1929) 192 copies
The Prayers of Kierkegaard (1956) 187 copies
Fear and Trembling / The Book on Adler (1994) — Author — 186 copies
A Literary Review (1846) 146 copies
Selections from the writings of Kierkegaard (1952) — Author — 132 copies
Mozart-esseet (1991) 57 copies
In vino veritas (1981) 56 copies
The Kierkegaard Reader (1989) 50 copies
Gospel of sufferings (1847) 44 copies
Kierkegaard's Writings, XVIII: Without Authority (1997) — Author — 41 copies
Letters and documents (1979) 39 copies
The Laughter Is on My Side (1989) 33 copies
Kierkegaard (2010) 33 copies
The Quotable Kierkegaard (2013) 28 copies
Diapsalmata (1996) 25 copies
Samlede værker (1982) 24 copies
Encounters with Kierkegaard (1996) 23 copies
Dagboeknotities een keuze (1974) 23 copies
Brieven (1955) 19 copies
The Kierkegaard Collection (2019) 16 copies
Edifying discourses (1943) 14 copies
Aforismi e pensieri (1995) 14 copies
Enten-Eller. Andet Halvbind (1988) 14 copies
The Crowd Is Untruth (2010) 13 copies
Enten-eller: 5 (1989) 13 copies
Kierkegaards redevoeringen (1959) 12 copies
The Moment (1988) 12 copies
Skrifter i udvalg (1986) 11 copies
Opere (1988) 11 copies
Samlede ver (1994) 10 copies
Øieblikket 1-10 (2014) 10 copies
Either/or 10 copies
Aforismen (1983) 6 copies
Atten opbyggelige Taler (1843) 6 copies
Die Leidenschaft des Religiösen (1953) — Author — 6 copies
El instante (2006) 6 copies
Wijsheid van Kierkegaard (2006) 5 copies
Saper scegliere (2010) 4 copies
Geheime Papiere (2004) — Author — 4 copies
Diario (1900) 4 copies
Diario íntimo (1993) 4 copies
Välisoittoja (1988) 4 copies
Texter och citat i urval (2013) 3 copies
Antígona (2003) 3 copies
Lettere del fidanzamento (2009) 2 copies
Érotisme (1989) 2 copies
L'Existence (1982) 2 copies
Vie et regne de l'amour (1946) 2 copies
Die Tagebücher (1974) 2 copies
O INSTANTE (2019) 2 copies
Cartas del noviazgo (2005) 2 copies
Tekster i udvalg (1970) 2 copies
Enten-Eller i udvalg (1995) 1 copy
Journals 1 copy
The Journals 1 copy
JOURNAL T04 1850-1853 (1957) 1 copy
Le stade esthétique. (1966) 1 copy
Journals 1 copy
Der Einzelne. (2002) 1 copy
O baanquete 1 copy
Of/of (2019) 1 copy
Obliques. Kierkegaard (1981) 1 copy
Mit forhold til hende (2006) 1 copy
ESTUDIOS EST TICOS I (1996) 1 copy
6: 1849-1850 1 copy
Accanto a una tomba (1999) 1 copy
The Journals 1 copy
Livsvisdom 1 copy
Werkausgabe (1971) 1 copy
Diario (1-0) 1 copy
Covek i duh 1 copy
Fear and Loathing (2014) 1 copy
Berliner Tagebücher (2000) 1 copy
Kierkegaard 1 copy
Coupable?Non coupable! (1942) 1 copy
Christ 1 copy
Journal 1 copy
Sr̜en Kierkegaard (1981) 1 copy

Associated Works

Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre (1956) — Contributor — 2,093 copies
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (2004) — Contributor — 763 copies
Western Philosophy: An Anthology (1996) — Author, some editions — 187 copies
Other Selves: Philosophers on Friendship (1991) — Contributor — 89 copies
Copenhagen Tales (2014) — Contributor — 19 copies
Kierkegaard leven en werk (1962) — Contributor — 19 copies
Jylland skildret af danske forfattere — Author, some editions — 3 copies
Rusomsorg i praksis (2014) — Contributor, some editions — 2 copies
Sofistene (1994) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge



Soren Kierkegaard (S.K.) was the youngest of seven children. He was born 5 years before Karl Marx, on the same date, 5/5 (May 5). His brother, Peter, was eight years older and a Danish theologian who publicly criticized Soren's writings a few times. The following details might help explain why S.K. wrote what he wrote and lived how he lived. He had an older brother, also named Soren, who died (1819), a sister, Maren, who died (1822), a sister, Nicoline, who died (1832), a brother, Niels, who died (1833), and a sister, Petrea, who died the same year his mom died (1834). He started studying at the University of Copenhagen in 1830 and published his first book review one month after his dad died in 1838. He then wrote feverishly for 17 more years until his death in 1855. (This review is for everyone, but not everyone will like reading the book, Fear and Trembling: A New Translation.)

Hegel annulled the individual and (like Meta Facebook) treats the human organism "team" as a bell-curve for behavioral analysis of trends. Even so, as S.K. knew, it is the individual who has to live (and die), who has mental activity, who sometimes has variant thoughts--Shall I dwell on this thought of which I am afraid, or shall I not? Freud himself cowered (and fainted) from some of his thoughts (about visiting Rome, about Egypt, and while at the Acropolis)--while trying to establish equal footing with his parents and while trying to maintain dominance over the students in his field. Society would like to keep people's thoughts Privatissium (concealed), but S.K. contends that greatness depends upon being able to convert one's thoughts into outward actions, against the recommendations of Hegel.

"Trembling" is not an everyday word. S.K. uses it in his title even though few people are able to associate it anymore with the idea from Philippians. Tolstoy concluded that the theology of the Russian Orthodox church was a mix of nonsense, and thanks to the Christological pantheistic righteousness of the Pauline epistles, and the efforts of schools like the Union Atheism Seminary, "[i]t is easy to explain the whole of existence, faith included, without having a notion of what faith is..." In fact, people who do not want the truth to be told often go to church so they can rest in the cliché (which they believe to be false)--"what [the pastor] said, that is the truth." A pragmatist believes in whatever works to get a particular outcome, yet "his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; ... [for] the righteous shall live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4 ASV). Philippians 2:12 says it this way--"work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..."

Words can be false or true or pragmatic. (Pragmatic words are a mixture of false and true.) S.K. starts his Problemata pages with a proverb that indicates that the one who works gets the bread while his observation (of life) is that the ones who do the least work have the most bread available. S.K. draws attention to the jarring divergence between his classroom theological studies and life in the land of the living; the weariness borne from the distinction between categorial imperative ethics and reality. Aesthetics and ethics are different critters--the modern Hollywood "happily ever after" endings being a good case in point. Aesthetics are only pragmatic, empty words.

Family boundaries are indistinct, shifting, and shifty. S.K. began his voluminous writing years shortly after splitting his father's inheritance with his brother Peter, and this was fresh in his mind as he wrote this book about Jewish money, about Jewish family ties, and about Abraham (the originator of the Jewish faith). Slithering money corporation cartel family gangs are those which establish secret living trusts (i.e. "frauds"), in the name of stewardship, to create pragmatic slavery "for the ones you love." In a sense, death (or "life") insurance is a form of sex insurance--"procreate and we'll pay you (someday)." "Friendly liars" is an oxymoron as perhaps also "false explanations in a family" is not a family.

Exposed as he is, the man who behaves in opposition to universal, or cultural, norms must build a tower as his support system. Descartes was an honest thinker who did this while S.K. also describes the hypothetical knight (or dame) of faith who bends the universal, who translates himself into the new universal, and who lets himself be read by everyone, uncovered and exposed.

Possibility #1, possibility #2, possibility #3, and possibility #4 are the interpretations that occurred to S.K. (as Johannes de Silentio) as he tried to explain and understand the meaning of the reading assignments of Isaac, Sarah, and Abraham on which this book is based. He grapples with the ideas of preferred beneficiaries, concealment, self-preservation, idolatry, fatherhood, child weaning, unspoken words, and, of course, faith. As Marty alluded to in his confession, Bio Marty Vita: Life Life Life, God is not the Creator of Nature; in this life, God is the possibility.

Step to it and grow up. Wean the child. Leave childish things behind, for faith is a childhood illness. However, S.K. ascertains that it is not. I can relate to his ideas, because when I had immersed myself in "the entirety of love," not lacking "the courage to attempt and to venture everything," after surveying my "situation in life..." when I was younger I headed to NYC in a wave of faith. Is "the courage of faith... the only humble courage"? As S.K. describes in the Epilogue, a disciple of Heraclitus went further than his teacher by saying that one cannot walk into the same river even once--lol. As we all know, to go further and farther and to do more, one must necessarily venture a single, frightful first step.

Dying on Earth, for many people today, as well as in the past, is like an army of martyrs sacrificing to the doctrine of the world whose lives are crushed with groans and sobs (per Tolstoy, My Religion). This is one way to live (and die), but S.K. writes that "the hero always dies before he dies..." or, as Paulo Freire indicated to J. Kozol (The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home), "A young man is going to have to die in certain ways in order to become the kind of man he needs to be." There is a sort of human longevity that comes from joining or forming a corporation, there is a sort of family longevity, and there is also a form of longevity that comes from melting into a principle--by faith, as S.K. has described. None of these are infinite longevity, however. Therefore, perhaps you should read this book. It might make you mad; you might find it ridiculous; but it might just push you up to a higher level of living before you one day succumb to your eventual dying.

Twenty years ago, I read some excerpts of Fear and Trembling from the W. Lowrie translation. It used words like else, stupid, Thee, abyss, and particular, while this B.H. Kirmmse translation replaced these words with "strange," "foolish," "you," "gulf," and "single individual." If you like Fear and Trembling, other works to consider reading are Leo Tolstoy (biography) by E.J. Simmons and The Philosophical Works of Descartes by G.R.T. Ross and E.S. Haldane. #HofferAward #didyougetajahbyet
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mmarty164 | 36 other reviews | May 14, 2024 |
Just a short, suggestive re-review, because, although I might never get to re-read a 600 page philosophy book when there are other philosophy books I’ll never read, right, my stance towards life when I read this book was too isolative to allow me to see its flaws, or, perhaps, even its strengths:

Well, certainly both the ‘aesthetic’ and of course also the ‘ethical’ ways have changed a lot since the 1840s: I’m kinda disappointed in Past Ted to start a review off based on the almost idiotic premise that ‘ethics’ has changed (ethics is good!) and ‘aesthetics’ has not, right (the kids never change!): certainly in any particularist sense at all, a feminist ethicist and a country cleric of the 1840s would not consider themselves to be at all alike, you know; and obviously the aesthetes of previous times were…. I mean, they were elitists; they intended to be, you know. Not for them, the music of people who farm in the villages, right, or sweep the streets.

Let’s see, what else: one or two more things…. I mean, there is kinda this question of it being a rumble between aesthetics and ethics, right: just the two of them; Soren was a sort of literary Hegel, and Hegel had his living god-dying god-resurrected god thing, right, but in this book I don’t know so much that there is a synthesis, probably because I doubt somewhat that there was one in society: either you sought pleasure, or you crushed it, right…. I mean, does living ethically mean that you give up beauty in your life? Is it a case of either being a seducer and deceiving girls, or entering into the grey marriage-of-duty, right….? I forget exactly how Soren’s ethicist feels, and it’s just as well, because I don’t trust myself to have perceived aright, but, although I don’t consider reading this book to have been time “wasted”—even in the sense of, “the only way to know is to find out”, and you find out that society was deceiving/controlling, right—obviously in my opinion there’s the aspect that generally marriage then was duty and sacrifice and beauty might be okay—sorta—if it helped you conform, but really….

Yeah, I mean, a very relevant point for a book like this is that reading philosophy is NOT the only way to explore these problems, you know. Really I feel that we all should have non-philosophical methods to go into this stuff—although generally speaking, people have no methods at all, not least because they’re mostly told that they’re not worth it from an early age, not least in school: and even the person who tests well is told that they had value, sorta, because they succeeded at conforming and “earned” it, or rather were granted it, as a sort of monarch’s gift, you know—and then philosophers should have both philosophical and non-philosophical tools, right~ whereas the average philosopher of post-medieval times, if not much earlier, as well, tries to have only philosophical tools, so that he—very much, ‘he’—can be confirmed to be separate from the dirty masses, right, which is basically the goal, the whole goal. Soren is much better along these lines than the average philosopher, but it is certain that people study who try to assimilate his attitude to the attitude of the majority-elite guy, right: and it is hard to have a culture, all to one’s self, right.
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goosecap | 15 other reviews | Apr 15, 2024 |
A hyper-intellectualized study of Abraham.
trrpatton | 36 other reviews | Mar 20, 2024 |
Kierkegaard adopts the persona of an immense shallow bore to advocate a view of life, the cultivated seeking of pleasure for one’s own self as the best way to live, that he wishes to reject. There may be something inherently unsatisfactory about reading an argument the author himself makes only because he wishes to counter it later.
lelandleslie | 2 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |



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Associated Authors

Lee M. Hollander Translator
H.A. van Munster Translator
Howard V. Hong Translator, Editor, Designer
Edna H. Hong Translator, Editor
Walter Lowrie Translator, Editor
Alastair Hannay Translator
Edward Gorey Cover designer, Cover lettering, Cover design and typography
Inga Mežaraupe Translator
Uta Eichler Afterword
Gisela Perlet Translator
Liselotte Richter Translator, Editor
Jonathan Rée Introduction
Paul Schereubel Illustrator
Knud Ferlov Translator
Meta Corssen Translator
Tapani Laine Translator
Remo Cantoni Introduction
David F. Swenson Translator
Werner Rebhuhn Cover designer
Reidar Thomte Translator
S. van Praag Translator
Wim R. Scholtens Introduction, Translator
Douglas Steere Translator
Wilhelm Kütemeyer Translator, Afterword
Edna Hong Translator
Edna Hatlestad Hong Editor, translator & introduction
Wolfgang Struve Translator, Introduction
Willem Breeuwer Translator
Theodor Haecker Translator
Cornelio Fabro Translator
Frederick Sontag Introduction
V. Kuhr Editor
Willem Jan Aalders Introduction
Maria Veltman Composer
Juan Gil-Albert Translator
A. Alma Translator
Heinz Küpper Translator


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