For over a century, the Danish thinker Soren Kierkegaard
(1813-55) has been at the center of a number of important
discussions, concerning not only philosophy and theology, but also,
more recently, fields such as social thought, psychology, and
contemporary aesthetics, especially literary theory.
Despite his relatively short life, Kierkegaard was an
extraordinarily prolific writer, as attested to by the 26-volume
Princeton University Press edition of all of his published
writings. But Kierkegaard left behind nearly as much unpublished
writing, most of which consists of what are called his "journals
and notebooks." Kierkegaard has long been recognized as one of
history's great journal keepers, but only rather small portions of
his journals and notebooks are what we usually understand by the
term "diaries." By far the greater part of Kierkegaard's journals
and notebooks consists of reflections on a myriad of
subjects--philosophical, religious, political, personal. Studying
his journals and notebooks takes us into his workshop, where we can
see his entire universe of thought. We can witness the genesis of
his published works, to be sure--but we can also see whole galaxies
of concepts, new insights, and fragments, large and small, of
partially (or almost entirely) completed but unpublished works.
"Kierkegaard's Journals and Notebooks" enables us to see the
thinker in dialogue with his times and with himself.
Volume 7 of this 11-volume series includes six of Kierkegaard's
important "NB" journals (Journals NB15 through NB20), covering the
months from early January 1850 to mid-September of that year. By
this time it had become clear that popular sovereignty, ushered in
by the revolution of 1848 and ratified by the Danish constitution
of 1849, had come to stay, and Kierkegaard now intensified his
criticism of the notion that everything, even matters involving the
human soul, could be decided by "balloting." He also continued to
direct his barbs at the established Danish Church and its clergy
(particularly Bishop J. P. Mynster and Professor H. L. Martensen),
at the press, and at the attempt by modern philosophy to comprehend
the incomprehensibility of faith. Kierkegaard's reading notes
include entries on Augustine, the Stoics, German mystics, Luther,
pietist authors, and Rousseau, while his autobiographical
reflections circle around the question of which, if any, of several
essays explaining his life and works he ought to publish. Perhaps
unsurprisingly, Kierkegaard's more personal reflections return once
again to his public feud with M. A. Goldschmidt and his broken
engagement to Regine Olsen.
Kierkegaard wrote his journals in a two-column format, one for
his initial entries and the second for the extensive marginal
comments that he added later. This edition of the journals
reproduces this format, includes several photographs of original
manuscript pages, and contains extensive scholarly commentary on
the various entries and on the history of the manuscripts being
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