Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Kierkegaard: A Single Life by Stephen Backhouse

Funnily enough, I've never read any of Søren Kierkegaard's works, even though I've heard of his theories before. And before reading this, I wanted to read something, but I couldn't really find it in public domain or in the library. So I decided to just go ahead and read it.

Kierkegaard is aimed at the general reader and is meant to be accessible. Happily, it delivers on the promise.

The book starts when Kierkegaard dies. And then it looks back towards his life, from when he was a student to when he started getting notoriety. Each chapter tends to focus on one aspect or one stage of life, such as his doomed love affair, his period of supposed dormancy, etc. Søren Kierkegaard comes across as a flawed human being - irritating, but with a purpose that came to dominate his life. I thought that this was summed up very well by his two wills:

One was to his ex-fiance, whom he never stopped loving, even though he purposely rejected her and made her give up on him. This is the part of him that the book calls "the champion of individuality"

One included instructions for the following to be put on his headstone:
"In a little while
I shall have won,
Then the entire battle
Will disappear at once.
Then I may rest
In halls of roses
And unceasingly,
And unceasingly
Speak with my Jesus"
The second half of the book is an overview of his works, which is helpful now that I'm looking for one of his works to start with (but when I can actually find it).

The book truly lives up to its promise - it is an accessible introduction to the man and his works.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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