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Getting Started with Kierkegaard

This is probably not a good time to be asking this question, with some people offline for Lent, and Palm Sunday and Holy Week coming up, but while I'm thinking about it: I've never read Kierkegaard, and I think the time has come for me to give him a try. Would anyone like to suggest a good book to start with?


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I only read about a third of "fear and trembling", maybe less, but it was pretty awesome.

The two most common entry points are probably Either/Or and Fear and Trembling. I'd recommend the former over the latter. My own entry point was The Sickness Unto Death, and it made a walloping impact. His Edifying Discourses would also be a good place to start.

The trouble with answering a question like this is that Kierkegaard wore many hats, and where to start depends on which hat most interests you. Knowing what I know of you, you are not the target audience for Either/Or; you might want to go straight to Works of Love.

So how helpful is that?

Very--that narrows it down nicely to Either/Or, Fear and Trembling, The Sickness Unto Death, Edifying Discourses, and Works of Love. :-) I mean, he did write other things--I've always been partial to the title Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Armed Neutrality sounds pretty good, too.

I think I'll see what the library (in which my office is located) has and do some browsing.


Looks like we have most of the above, so I'll take a look. Thanks.

I suggest Fear and Trembling, definitely. The Princeton edition includes Repetition, which is also very good. They have the advantage of being relatively short (compared to Either/Or and Stages On Life's Way, for example), and while being a fine example of what Kierkegaard calls his method of "indirect communication", is not nearly as obfuscatory as tbe more "psychological" works, like Concept of Irony or Sickness Unto Death.

There is a fine review in the latest newsletter on "Fortunate Fallibility: Kierkegaard and the Power of Sin":


Thanks. I see you are affiliated with Korrektiv. Looking around there is part of the reason I decided the time had come for Kierkegaard--your mention of K and Walter Percy reminded me that though I've loved WP for decades I had never investigated the thinker who had such an influence on him.

Btw you have korrektiv.com above instead of .org

Well, I'd not recommend Fear and Trembling for a first book. It's very difficult.

I thought of another suggestion, if you'd like a bird's-eye view of his overall strategy as an author: The Point of View. It's nice and short too.

If you say it's difficult, I'm sure it's difficult.

I think you should read Caryll Houselander's letters. :-) If you start with K. first, you will NEVER get to them.


I don't think they would be mutually exclusive. Might be a good pair to read alongside each other, in fact. At any rate I sort of doubt, from what I've heard of Kierkegaard, that I will be putting everything aside to read all of his work.

I've always thought that I would read Kierkegaard when I had about 2 years with nothing else to do. Even listening to talks about him strains my brain to the limit.


I vote for The Sickness Unto Death. That or Repetition (since you already like Percy).

A book that was called The Living Thoughts of Kierkegaard might be a good approach, but I haven't read this author in about 30 years so far as I remember. The book has been reprinted recently:


but you could probably find a cheap used copy for a few dollars at abebooks.com.

Thanks, Dale and Rachel. Janet, I know there's some chance that I'll have that reaction, too. I'm thinking of my quickly-abandoned attempt at D B Hart's Beauty of the Infinite.

I am coming to this thread very late because it came up when I searched online with a question such as you asked. Now that nearly eight years have passed, would you have an answer to your own question? Because I have about five of K.'s books here that I chose or were given to me for various reasons I can't remember now, and one of them is Works of Love... It would be great if I could be happy with something already at hand, to start with :-)

I'm sorry to say no, I don't have an answer. I never got back to this little project. I'm not surprised that you found this post via a search. It gets regular hits that originate with search engines. Apparently people search for something along those lines pretty often.

I think at least half the visits to this blog are the result of searches. Since there aren't that many visits in total, that means that it doesn't have many regular readers at all. Maybe I should take up agitated political commentary.

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