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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Publication Date: 2016
Discover a new understanding of Kierkegaards thought and his life, a story filled with romance, betrayal, humor, and riots.
Kierkegaard, like Einstein and Freud, is one of those geniuses whose ideas permeate the culture and shape our world even when relatively few people have read their works. That lack of familiarity with the real Kierkegaard is about to change.
This lucid new biography by scholar Stephen Backhouse presents the genius as well as the acutely sensitive man behind the brilliant books. Scholarly and accessible, Kierkegaard: A Single Life introduces his many guisesthe thinker, the lover, the recluse, the writer, the controversialistin prose so compelling it reads like a novel.
One chapter examines Kierkegaards influence on our greatest cultural iconsKafka, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Camus, and Martin Luther King Jr., to name only a few. A useful appendix presents an overview of each of Kierkegaards works, for the scholar and lay reader alike.
Stephen Backhouse is the Lecturer in Social and Political Theology at Mellitus College, London. He has published a number of critically well-received books and articles on religion, history, and Kierkegaard, from the popular Compact Guide to Christian History for Lion through to the academic Kierkegaards Critique of Christian Nationalism for Oxford University Press.
Jon Coutts5 Stars Out Of 5Riveting Biography and Helpful Book OverviewsAugust 22, 2016Jon CouttsQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0This brand new biography of Sren Kierkegaard by Stephen Backhouse came to our door on Friday and I devoured it by Sunday night. It is immensely informative, insightful, and readable.
Rather than duplicate the denser intellectual biographies that already exist (on one hand), or offer up the life's story without reference to it's work (on the other), Backhouse gives us Kierkegaard in two parts: a telling of his story and an overview of his works. The first reads like a gripping novel, the second opens up inviting windows into texts both famous and unknown.
The 211-page 'life of Kierkegaard' which makes up the bulk of the book is nothing short of riveting. (And for those who wish to just do some beach reading, it could be happily left at that). The research that stands behind it is impeccable. Not only does Backhouse have a command of Kierkegaard's thought and of his historical context, he has also scoured the journals of Sren and his peers in order to give us a view of his life from inside-out and outside-in. This is sewn together not like a patchwork quilt or a dry historical treatise but almost like a psychological thriller. (Okay, 'thriller' might be too strong a word, but the drama of Sren's inner and public life is pretty intense).
Kierkegaard seems to have been hounded controversy. Just when it lets up he chases it again. One simultaneously admires his resolve and cringes at the pain he puts himself (and others) through. Backhouse gives a sympathetic account that does not cover up Soren's faults and quirks, but puts them in perspective and (thanks to his journals) reveals in them an intent that is better than many might have guessed. It would be easy to write Kierkegaard off as a controversialist, but through this insightful biography we see him as lovingly restrained given the burning of his conviction, the sincerity of his confession, and the sharpness of his vision.
Even though Backhouse highlights the work Kierkegaard was doing as it occurs in his life, I was thankful for the 54 page overview of his publications which rounds out the book. The pithy summaries have focused my understanding of books I have read, and given me a concise encapsulation of books which (let's face it) I probably never will.
More than that, Backhouse has put some books on my radar which need to go high on the reading list not just because they seem interesting, but because the thoughts expressed in them seem as important and challenging as ever.
What comes to life in this book is not just the person of Sren Kierkegaard but the ethos of nineteenth century Copenhagen and its churches as wellan ethos not far off from our own. Read against the vividly painted backdrop of his context, one cannot help but feel Kierkegaard's work coming into clearer focus and still having lots to say.
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