In a retrospective accounting of his authorship written in 1848, Kierkegaard maintained that it was 'religious from first to last', designed to cast the religious, more specifically the essentially Christian, into reflection for the sake of clarifying Christian categories, thus enabling his reader, whom he always addressed as 'that single individual', to become aware of what Christianity is and how to become a Christian (PV 6). Although this conception of the religious character and thrust of his writings was certainly not apparent to him or his readers from the outset, it became clearer to him as the authorship unfolded, which came at a furious pace. Either/Or, consisting of two large volumes, erupted on the public scene in 1843, followed by the publication of Fear and Trembling and Repetition on the same day later that year. Then three more works appeared in 1844: Philosophical Fragments, The Concept of Anxiety, and Prefaces. 1845 brought forth another huge tome, Stages on Life's Way, and 1846 an equally long volume, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to 'Philosophical Fragments', his most important philosophical work. Of these works, Kierkegaard correctly predicted that 'Fear and Trembling alone will be enough for an imperishable name as an author' (JP vi. 6491).
These works were published at Kierkegaard's own expense but not under his own name as author; instead, they were issued under the auspices of various pseudonyms, a literary strategy adopted in order to allow each work and its 'author' to express its own viewpoint and to indicate indirectly that his own life was lived in 'altogether different categories' (PV 86). In a statement appended to the Postscript, Kierkegaard explains:
What has been written, then, is mine, but only insofar as I, by means of audible lines, have placed the life-view of the creating, poetically actual individuality in his [the pseudonym's] mouth ...Thus in the pseudonymous books there is not a single word by me. I have no opinion about them except as a third party, no knowledge of their meaning except as a reader, not the remotest private relation to them ...Therefore, if it should occur to anyone to want to quote a particular passage from the books, it is my wish, my prayer, that he will do me the kindness of citing the respective pseudonymous author's name, not mine...
With the exception of the Postscript, which Kierkegaard regarded as sui generis (in a class by itself), these early works constituted what he called his 'aesthetic' writings (PV 7, 29 n. 31). Beginning with a portrayal of the aesthetic (from the Greek aisthesis, meaning 'sense perception') stage of existence, which is a relatively non-reflective life in immediacy based on the satisfaction and enjoyment of one's sensate or natural inclinations and capacities, these works employ an indirect or maieutic (Socratic) method of communication through the use of a variety of literary genres, strategies, and poetic figures designed to 'deceive' people into the truth by helping them become aware of the need for a higher form of life in the ethical and religious stages of existence (PV 7, 53-4). Parallel to these indirect communications Kierkegaard published under his own name a series of direct communications in the form of upbuilding or ethical-religious discourses (EUD; TDIO).71 These discourses, he later claimed, provided a clear testimony that he was a religious author from the beginning and betokened that the upbuilding was what should come to the fore: 'With my left hand I passed Either/Or out into the world, with my right hand Two Upbuilding
71 See Pattison (2002b).
Discourses; but they all or almost all took the left hand with their right' (PV 36; cf. EUD 179).
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