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Kierkegaard: A Biography
ISBN 0521560772 / 9780521560771 / 0-521-56077-2
Publisher Cambridge University Press
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Kierkegaard: A Biography traces the evolution of a character who himself was made up of many characters of his own creation. Søren Kierkegaard's writings, published under various pseudonyms, were made in response to "collisions" with significant individuals (including his father, his brother, a fiancé whom he rejected, and a prominent Danish bishop). The development of these pseudonymous characters reflect Kierkegaard's growing sense of self, and his discovery of that self as being essentially religious. With considerable mastery of the political, philosophical, and theological conflicts of 19th century Europe, Alastair Hannay's biography also serves as an excellent introduction to Kierkegaard's philosophy and faith. From sentence to sentence, the book is full of small pleasures, particularly Hannay's judiciously employed, humanizing vernacular phrases. (As a young man, "Søren," like so many people, "blamed his father for messing up his life.") And like his subject, Hannay is a shrewd observer of the often-misleading relationship between appearance and reality. For instance, he suggests that "it does seem plausible to suppose that a main motivation behind the huge effort that writers put into their poetic products stems often from a sense of lacking in themselves the very substance that their works appear to convey." --Michael Joseph Gross [via]