Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kierkegaard Bibliography

Annotated Kierkegaard Bibliography

Soren Kierkegaard’s (1813 – 1855) literary legacy is massive, convoluted and confusing. To make sense of his pseudonyms, irony, humor, theology, philosophy, psychology, and profound depth, I could either plow through his authorship on my own (which causes fear and trembling in the most stalwart), or I could benefit from the works of love by others. I’ve chosen the latter. And I am glad I did. While there’s repetition in Kierkegaard, it would take ages, well, at least two ages, to untangle his philosophical fragments. I recommend tackling the works sited below (many of which are papers of one still living) in stages. On life’s way most of us, on imagined occasions and in various spirits, create a bucket list. Mine includes attaining purity of heart before I contract any sickness unto death. To achieve this I need practice in Christianity. And the upbuilding discourses below help me do this. So judge for yourself! Let not the concept of anxiety or the concept of irony prevent you from enjoying these edifying discourses. One last note before concluding. “Unscientific?” “Postscript?” I know the jargon seems endless. But if you read for self examination I’m confident you’ll blossom like the lily in the field and the bird in the air. (Note: how many Kierkegaard titles can you find hidden in this paragraph?)


Barrett, Lee C. III Kierkegaard (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 2010). A new, brief (75 pages) and trenchant summary of Kierkegaard’s continued significance in modern theological thinking.

Evans, Stephen C. Kierkegaard: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press: NY, 2009). Since the author shares Kierkegaard’s Christian faith I trust Evans’ interpretations more than average. Rather than making Kierkegaard the “father of existentialism,” Evans clearly delineates the massive differences between Soren and Sartre, Camus, Kafka, Nietzsche, et al.

Evans, Stephen C. Soren Kierkegaard’s Christian Psychology: Insight for Counseling and Pastoral Care (Regent College Publishing: Vancouver, BC, 1990). I’m not sure this book will help you talk to clients or parishioners better (it’s theoretical, not clinical), but it will definitely clarify the unique role a Christian therapist or pastoral counselor plays in the spiritual formation of others. If you’ve ever felt sheepish for not being “value free,” this nifty essay (134 pages) will assuage your guilt. Evans draws from Kierkegaard’s whole authorship but primarily Sickness Unto Death and Fear and Trembling.

Garff, Joakim. Soren Kierkegaard: A Biography (Princeton University Press: NJ), 2005. Translated by Bruce H. Kirmmse. A massive (864 pages) and finely-detailed examination of Kierkegaard’s life and times. I loved it. At times, Garff is overly critical of Kierkegaard in my opinion. But whose heroes do not have feet of clay?

Gill, Jerry H. Essays on Kierkegaard (Burgess Publishing, MN, 1969). Older existentialist reading of Kierkegaard. If nothing else, the authors of these collected essays can take pride in the fact that they recognized Kierkegaard’s value to philosophy before he hit the big time (if the current resurgence of interest in Kierkegaard can even be called “big time”).

Hong, Howard. The Essential Kierkegaard (Princeton University Press: NJ, 2000). Snippets of Kierkegaard’s major works arranged in chronological order. Read in conjunction with Garff makes for fabulous reading. It’s mind boggling how one Danish brain could ponder the things it pondered. Welcome to the world of genius.

Kierkegaard, Soren. The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Edification and Awakening by Anti-Climicus (Penguin Books: London, 1989). The book that got me hooked on Kierkegaard. The first two pages are famous for their obscurity, opacity, and off putting double talk. I’m sure many bailed on a career in philosophy when they first encountered the “relationship that relates to itself.” But press on and the book unfolds into a relevant psychology that predates (and in my opinion outshines) Freud. Highly recommended.

Kierkegaard, Soren. Fear and Trembling: Dialectical Lyric by Johannes de silentio (Penguin Books: London, 1985). Translated by Alastair Hannay. The theme of this trenchant but powerful book is faith. I still grapple with the Abraham/Isaac affair but Kierkegaard’s contribution to the discussion is essential.

Mullen, John Douglas. Kierkegaard’s Philosophy: Self Deception and Cowardice in the Present Age (New American Library: NY, 1981). One of my favorites. Mullen’s illustrations are dated (he references the hot topics of the late ‘70s: Open Marriage, the “new” fad of jogging, etc.), but I’m convinced that had this nifty paper back been published 20 years earlier we may never have had the hedonistic ‘sixties. Mullen does a masterful job of giving Kierkegaard his due as the relevant and powerful philosopher of our times. Don’t leave home without this book!

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