Reading Kierkegaard

Reading Kierkegaard is like flying through heavy cloud. Every now and again there’s a break and you get a brief, brilliantly lit view of the ground, and then you’re back in the swirling grey mist again, with not a fucking clue where you are.

— David Lodge, Therapy


  1. What on earth was he smoking while he was reading?

    As I commented in the marathong com box Kierkegaard is the only philosopher I can read without getting a headache. I don’t find him hard to understand at all.

    I suppose it takes all kinds.

  2. Rufus McCain says

    I don’t know, angelmeg. I love Kierkegaard, might even be considered a Kierkaholic by some, but this description does have a certain ring of truth for me. I guess it depends on which book we’re talking about. For example, The Concept of Dread and The Sickness Unto Death are both pretty dense and murkily abstract to me, albeit in an evocative way that keeps me reading, waiting for those moments of astonishing crystal clarity. Other of SK’s canon are more accessible, but they still are pretty slow reads for me, generally speaking. I think it took me about a year of reading one or two pages a day, maybe five or ten on a good day, to get through the Postscript. And anyone that followed our little reading club adventure through Stages could see the glacial pace at which we tore through that tome. On the other hand, the character in Lodge’s novel, from whose point of view, we get this observation, is a bit of a ditz — British sitcom writer who had to look up the word “angst” when someone used it in conversation, because he’d never heard it before. Which is what leads him to discover Kierkegaard and embark on this reading adventure.

Speak Your Mind