Kierkegaard nevertheless remained in the engagement for thirteen months. On 11 August 1841 he formally broke it by letter and returned the engagement ring Regine had given him.70 Needless to say, this was a very trying time for both parties, and Regine did not let him go without a fight,
70 Garff(2005: 186).
pleading to him again and again not to leave her and threatening to despair if he did. His action was also a matter of great concern to her family and damaged his reputation in the city, where it soon became the talk of the town. Hoping to make it easier for her to accept the broken engagement, Kierkegaard tried to make himself look like a scoundrel in her eyes, poetically portraying himself in one of his early works ('The Seducer's Diary', in Either/Or, part 1) as a calculating seducer in order to repulse her, while suffering internally all the more as he continued to agonize over his action and responsibility in the whole affair. Much of his side of the story would later be poetically transmuted and told in one of his works in a section with the telling title: 'Guilty?'/'Not Guilty?' (SLW 185-397). Here and elsewhere in earlier and later journal entries and works, the rationale for the break that gained prominence in his own mind was a religious one, namely that he was under 'a divine counter order' that required him to forgo marriage and live as a penitent, giving religious expression to his erotic love for her through a relationship to God or the ideality of the religious (261, 330, 381, 423; cf. JP vi. 6472; FT). As Kierkegaard understood it, his personal relationship to God was 'in a way' a reduplication of his relation to Regine inasmuch as it helped him to understand what faith is (JP vi. 6470). In a journal entry from 1843, he states: 'If I had had faith, I would have stayed with Regine' (JP v. 5664). Six years later, in a rare admission, he writes: 'The fact that I have gone through this experience has helped me in my own faith-relationship to God. Although my life goes against me and the world is sheer opposition, I nevertheless do have faith' (JP vi. 6470).
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