Kierkegaard’s earliest literary works, including his dissertation, should be regarded as apprentice pieces that are of greater interest to specialists than to general readers. This is also true for his religious works, which strongly attest to the author’s personal faith and theological background, but which exhibit neither the literary sophistication nor the philosophical subtleties that characterize his pseudonymous oeuvre.
The chief formal characteristic of the pseudonymous works is Kierkegaard’s use of a large number of different fictitious characters that both serve as the putative authors or editors of entire books or parts of books and function as literary characters in dialogue with each other. This technique allows Kierkegaard to both make his works aesthetically attractive and to present his ideas in a lively and engaging manner.
Without question, the two-part Either/Or (1843) is Kierkegaard’s most important literary work, although Concluding Unscientific Postscript is his most significant work of philosophy. Kierkegaard pretends that Either/Or has been edited by a certain Victor Eremita, who, like Kierkegaard himself, lives in Copenhagen. On a certain occasion Eremita discovers a manuscript in a secret compartment in a desk that he has recently purchased, and he publishes it with the title Either/Or. The first part contains writings of an aesthetic nature, while the second part consists of...
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