Kierkegaard Research

Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources




Volume 12:
Kierkegaard's Influence on Literature, Criticism, and Art

Edited by Jon Stewart


Tome I: The Germanophone World

Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate 2013. xxi+260pp.

Tome II: Denmark

Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate 2013. xiii+190pp.


Tome III: Sweden and Norway

Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate 2013. xiii+202pp.


Tome IV: The Anglophone World

Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate 2013. xv+239pp.


Tome V: The Romance Languages and Central
and Eastern Europe

Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate 2013. xiii+207pp.


While Kierkegaard is primarily known as a philosopher or religious thinker, his writings have also been used extensively by literary writers, critics and artists. This use can be traced in the work of major cultural figures not just in Denmark and Scandinavia but also in the wider world. These later figures have been attracted to Kierkegaard due to a number of reasons, for example, his creative mixing of genres, his complex use of pseudonyms, his rhetoric and literary style, and his rich images, parables, and allegories. The goal of the present volume is to document this influence in the different language groups and traditions.



Tome I: The Germanophone World


Tome I explores Kierkegaard’s influence on literature and art in the Germanophone world. He was an important source of inspiration for German writers such as Theodor Fontane, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Alfred Andersch, and Martin Walser. Kierkegaard’s influence was particularly strong in Austria during the generation of modernist authors such as Rudolf Kassner, Karl Kraus, Robert Musil, and Hermann Broch. Due presumably in part to the German translations of Kierkegaard in the Austrian cultural journal Der Brenner, Kierkegaard continued to be used by later figures such as the novelist and playwright, Thomas Bernhard. His thought was also appropriated in Switzerland through the works of Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The famous Czech author Franz Kafka identified personally with Kierkegaard’s sad love story with Regine Olsen and made use of his reflections on this and other topics.



Table of Contents


Alfred Andersch: Reading Søren Kierkegaard as
Flight to Freedom
Alina Vaisfeld

Thomas Bernhard
: A Grotesque Sickness unto Death
Stefan Egenberger

Hermann Broch
: “Nennen’s mir an Bessern”
Steen Tullberg

Friedrich Dürrenmatt
: A Swiss Author Reading and
Using Kierkegaard
Pierre Bühler

Theodor Fontane
: A Probable Pioneer in German
Kierkegaard Reception
Julie Allen

Max Frisch
: Literary Transformations of Identity
Sophie Wennerscheid

Theodor Haecker
: The Mobilization of a Total Author
Markus Kleinert 

Franz Kafka
: Reading Kierkegaard
Nicolae Irina

Rudolf Kassner
: A Physiognomical Appropriation
Steen Tullberg

Karl Kraus
: “The Miracle of Unison”—Criticism of the Press
and Experiences of Isolation
Joachim Grage

Thomas Mann
: Demons and Daemons
Elisabete M. Sousa and Ingrid Basso

Robert Musil
: Kierkegaardian Themes in The Man Without Qualities
David D. Possen

Rainer Maria Rilke: Unsatisfied Love and the Poetry of Living
Leonardo Lisi

Martin Walser
: The (Un-)Certainty of Reading
Sophie Wennerscheid 


Tome II: Denmark


Tome II is dedicated to the use of Kierkegaard by later Danish writers. Almost from the beginning Kierkegaard’s works were standard reading for these authors. Danish novelists and critics from the Modern Breakthrough movement in the 1870s were among the first to make extensive use of his writings. These included the theoretical leader of the movement, the critic Georg Brandes, who wrote an entire book on Kierkegaard, and the novelists Jens Peter Jacobsen and Henrik Pontoppidan. The next generation of writers from the turn of the century and through the First World War also saw in Kierkegaard important points of inspiration. These included Ernesto Dalgas and Harald Kidde, who used elements of Kierkegaard’s thought in their novels. Modern Danish writers such as Karen Blixen, Martin A. Hansen, and Villy Sørensen have continued to incorporate Kierkegaard into their works. There can be no doubt that Kierkegaard has indelibly stamped his name on Danish literature.


Table of Contents


Karen Blixen: Kierkegaard, Isak Dinesen, and the Twisted
Images of Divinity and Humanity
Søren Landkildehus 

Georg Brandes: Kierkegaard’s Most Influential
Julie Allen

Ernesto Dalgas: Kierkegaard on The Path of Suffering
Esben Lindemann 

Martin A. Hansen: Kierkegaard in Hansen’s Thinking
and Poetical Work
Esben Lindemann 

Jens Peter Jacobsen: Denmark’s Greatest Atheist
William Banks 

Harald Kidde: “A Widely Traveled Stay-at-Home”
Poul Houe 

Henrik Pontoppidan
: Inspiration and Hesitation
Peter Tudvad

Villy Sørensen: A Critical Initiation
Steen Tullberg



Tome III: Sweden and Norway

Tome III investigates the works of Swedish and Norwegian writers and artists who have been inspired by Kierkegaard. In Sweden the novelist Victoria Benedictsson made use of Kierkegaard during the period of the so-called Modern Breakthrough. Similarly, the celebrated playwright August Strindberg found inspiration in Kierkegaard. Later Swedish writers right up to our own day have continued to draw on his thought. This includes figures such as Selma Lagerlöf, Lars Ahlin, Lars Gyllensten, and Carl-Henning Wijkmark. The Norwegian reception of Kierkegaard also began remarkably early and was shaped by the leading names in Norwegian cultural life. The famous dramatist and poet Henrik Ibsen, despite his coy responses to questions about his relation to Kierkegaard, clearly seems to have been inspired by the Dane in famous works such as Brand. The other great Norwegian national writer and poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, who was influenced by the Modern Breakthrough movement, was also deeply inspired by Kierkegaard. Finally, the celebrated Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) closely studied key Kierkegaardian concepts such as anxiety, and this influence is notable in his iconic paintings such as The Scream.



Table of Contents


Part I: Sweden


Lars Ahlin: Kierkegaard’s Influence—an Ambiguous Matter
Hans-Erik Johannesson

Victoria Bendictsson: A Female Perspective on Ethics
Camilla Brudin Borg

Lars Gyllensten: Inventor of Modern Stages of Life
Camilla Brudin Borg 

Selma Lagerlöf: “More clever than wise”
Elise Iuul

August Strindberg: “Along with Kierkegaard in a Dance of Death”
Ingrid Basso

Carl-Henning Wijkmark: Paradoxical Forms and an
Interpretation of Kierkegaard and Dacapo
Jan Holmgaard

Part II: Norway

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: Kierkegaard’s Positive Influence
on Bjørnson in His Youth and Adulthood
Esben Lindemann

Henrik Ibsen: The Conflict between the Aesthetic and the Ethical
Eivind Tjønneland 

Edvard Munch: The Painter of the Scream and his Relation
to Kierkegaard
Hans Grelland

Tome IV: The Anglophone World

Tome IV examines Kierkegaard’s surprisingly extensive influence in the Anglophone world of literature and art. Kierkegaard’s presence has been especially strong in the United States. His thought appears in the work of the novelists Walker Percy, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Conner, William Styron, Don Delillo, and Louise Erdrich. He has also been used by the famous American literary critics, George Steiner and Harold Bloom. The American composer Samuel Barber made use of Kierkegaard in his musical works. Kierkegaard has also exercised an influence on British and Irish letters. The English-born poet W.H. Auden sought in Kierkegaard ideas for his poetic works, and the contemporary English novelist David Lodge has written a novel Therapy, in which Kierkegaard plays an important role. Cryptic traces of Kierkegaard can also be found in the work of the famous Irish writer James Joyce.



Table of Contents


W.H. Auden: Art and Christianity in an Age of Anxiety
Leonardo Lisi

James Baldwin: “Poetic Experimentators” in a Chaotic World
Nigel Hatton

Samuel Barber: Kierkegaard, From a Musical Point of View
Diego Giordano

Harold Bloom
: Critics, Bards and Prophets
Elisabete M. de Sousa

Don Delillo
: Kierkegaard and the Grave in the Air
Daniel Greenspan

Louise Erdrich
: Existence with an “Edge of Irony”
Nigel Hatton

James Joyce: Negation, Kierkeyaard Wake and Repetition
Bartholomew Ryan

David Lodge
: A Therapy for the Self
Nataliya Vorobyova

Flannery O’Connor
: Reading Kierkegaard in the Light of
Thomas Aquinas
Christopher Barnett

Walker Percy
: Literary Extrapolations from Kierkegaard
Joseph Ballan

George Steiner
: Playing Kierkegaard’s Theological-Philosophic-Psychological Sports
Paul Martens

William Styron
: Styron and the Assault of Kierkegaardian Dread
Nigel Hatton


Tome V: The Romance Languages and Central
and Eastern Europe


Tome V treats the work of a heterogeneous group of writers from the Romance languages and from Central and Eastern Europe who have made use of Kierkegaard in their writings. Kierkegaard has been particularly important for Spanish literature: the Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges, Leonardo Castellani, and Ernesto Sábato, the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, and the Spanish essayist and philosopher María Zambrano were all inspired to varying degrees by him. The Dane also appears in the works of authors writing in other Romance languages, such as the Romanian writer Max Blecher. The Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa was almost certainly inspired by Kierkegaard’s use of pseudonyms. Kierkegaard has also been read by very diverse literary figures from Central and Eastern Europe. He appears in the novels of the contemporary Hungarian authors Péter Nadas and Péter Esterházy. With regard to the Slavic languages, the famous Russian writer, thinker, literary critic, Mikhail Bakhtin, was also inspired by Kierkegaard as was the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz and the Czech novelist Ivan Klíma. The Polish-born Israeli novelist Pinhas Sadeh was interested in Kierkegaard’s treatment of the story of Abraham and Isaac in Fear and Trembling.



Table of Contents


Part I: Romance Languages

Max Blecher
: The Bizarre Adventure of Suffering
Leo Stan

Jorge Luis Borges: The Fear without Trembling
Eduardo Fernández Villar

Leonardo L. Castellani
: Between Suero Kirkegord
and Thomas Aquinas
María J. Binetti

Carlos Fuentes
: “Poor Mexico, so far away from God
and so close to the United States”
Patricia C. Dip

Fernando Pessoa: Poets and Philosophers
Antonio M. Feijo and Elisabete M. Sousa

Ernesto Sábato
: The Darker Side of Kierkegaardian Existence
María J. Binetti

María Zambrano
: Kierkegaard and the Criticism of
Modern Rationalism
Laura Llevadot and Carmen Revilla

Part II: Central and Eastern European Literature

Mikhail Bakhtin
: Direct and Indirect Reception of Kierkegaard
in Works of the Russian Thinker
Tatiana Schscyttosva

Péter Esterházy: Semi-Serious
András Nagy

Witold Gombrowicz: The Struggle for the Authentic Self
Wojciech Kaftañski


Ivan Klíma: “To Save My Inner World”
Nigel Hatton

Péter Nádas: Books and Memories
András Nagy

Pinhas Sadeh: The Poet as “the Single Individual”
Sharon Krishek


Volume 8

Kierkegard’s International Reception
Tomes I-III


Volume 9

Kierkegaard’s Influence on Existentialism

Volume 10

Kierkegaard’s Influence on Theology

Tomes I-III

Volume 11

Kierkegaard’s Influence on Philosophy
Tomes I-III

Volume 12

Kierkegaard’s Influence on Literature and Criticism
Tomes I-V

Volume 13

Kierkegaard’s Influence on the Social Sciences

Volume 14

Kierkegaard’s Influence on Social-Political Thought






























































































































































































































The series Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources is published Routledge Research, Philosophy
Routledge / Taylor & Francis Group, 711 Third Ave., Eighth Floor, New York, NY 10017, USA

Jon Stewart©2007-2020