The Genealogy of Art

  • George Pattison
Part of the Studies in Literature and Religion book series (SLR)


As we now begin to explore Kierkegaard’s understanding of the relationship between the aesthetic and the religious, we shall start by locating his position in relation to those thinkers and theories which were the subject of the preceding chapter. By setting his work in this context we shall be able to identify assumptions, usages, concepts and themes which show that he was very much a man of his age. This is true even of certain features of his thought (such as the psychological reduction of art which we shall be examining later in this chapter) which reveal a distinctive radicality and brilliance. At the same time we may ask at what point and in what ways Kierkegaard ‘goes beyond’ his predecessors. The answer to this question, I shall argue, lies in the emergence of his theory and, still more importantly, his practice of indirect communication. In other words — and this might at first seem to be merely stating the obvious — it is precisely Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous authorship itself, its form, its style, its content, which makes his work so different and which has brought it about that we today read Heiberg and the rest chiefly on account of Kierkegaard, rather than reading Kierkegaard simply as one more sub-heading of Danish literature and aesthetics in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, Copenhagen Was a city of only 100 000 inhabitants,while a book which sold 500 copies was considered a bestseller.1


Poetic Work Aesthetic Idea Earthly Life Romantic Irony Aesthetic Consciousness 
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  1. 1.
    Uffe Andreasen, Romantismen (Kobenhavn: Gyldendal, 1974), pp.11ff.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Frithiof Brandt, Den Unge Seren Kierkegaard (Kobenhavn: Levin og Munksgaard, 1929), p. 126.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    P.M. Mitchell, A History of Danish Literature (Kobenhavn: Gyldendal, 1957), p. 135.Google Scholar

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© George Linsley Pattison 1992

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  • George Pattison

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