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Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  123 ratings  ·  19 reviews

"The day will come when not only my writings, but precisely my life--the intriguing secret of all the machinery--will be studied and studied." Søren Kierkegaard's remarkable combination of genius and peculiarity made this a fair if arrogant prediction. But Kierkegaard's life has been notoriously hard to study, so complex was the web of fact and fiction in his work. Joakim

Hardcover, 896 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Princeton University Press (first published 2000)
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Steve Bennett
Had Kierkegaard lived in contemporary times, he simply would have been prescribed mood-altering medications, written a hit movie "Forgetting Regine Olsen," and performed history of rap skits with Jimmy Fallon. As it was, he lived (and suffered) a lonely strange life but a life that was certainly individualistic and his own. And he wrote some great books.

Garff has written a fantastic (and extremley lengthy) biography of Kierkegaard. I've read Kirmmse's Kiekegaard in Golden Age Denmark and found t
Jeremiah Tillman
Joakim Garff, one of the most reputable Danish Kierkegaard scholar (check out his essay "The Eyes of Argus" to judge for yourself), takes 800 plus pages to work a narrative around Kierkegaard's life and times, including antagonists ranging from the Corsair, N.F.S. Gruntvig, Jakob Peter Mynster, Hans Lassen Martensen, his former "disciple," Rasmus Nielson, and even his own brother, at times, Peter Christian Kierkegaard. Garff gives many insights drawn from historical materials many do not have ac ...more
Matthew Lefavor
Given the nature of the subject, it would be surprising if Garff's biography was not incredibly interesting. Even so, Garff goes above and beyond in his treatment of the Dane and his works, making it a must-read for anyone interested in Kierkegaard.

This is not a book for beginners. Garff presupposes some basic familiarity with Kierkegaard's life and works. (Then again, I find it hard to believe that one would pick up an 800-page biography of an author they've never read.) Furthermore, one could
Joakim Garff’s Soren Kierkegaard is a whopper of a biography coming in at 810 pages, but the tone was fairly light and the pace fairly quick so it was by no means burdensome. It took a long time to finish more because I fell ill about halfway through and all productivity went goodbye. I’m thankful for this fact, as the feeling of my own infirmities helped me to empathize with Kierkegaard’s own physical frailty and the sense of melancholy that easily accompanies it. While my frailty caused litera ...more
It is always interesting in a time of history to find out how someone who becomes prominent later in life for their talent, philosophy, etc. This book does more than that as it Garaff takes into consideration what formed Kierkegaard from his relationships. Guilt, rivalry, and his tortured relationship with his fiancee Regine Olsen. In a lengthy journal entry, or rather many series of entries, which he jotted down on August 24, 1849, and titled it "My Relation to 'Her.'" It was somewhat poetic wh ...more
Mar 15, 2007 max rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kierkegaard freaks
Shelves: library
A richly researched book by a single scholar seeking to capture and collate every occurrence in Denmark of significance to Kiergegaard's life. The complete cast of two generations of Danish intellectuals sparkles and feuds, and puts Kierkegaard's peculiar prose--a stew of dictions, vast ranges of tone, endless layers of rhetoric and contradiction--in marvelous perspective. "A Biography" is an incredibly readable book, even if besides breaking up with a fiance and enduring the passing of his fath ...more
I really enjoyed reading this extremely well-written biography. The author really makes the whole environment around Kierkegaard fascinating, and the language is vivid and interesting. Sometimes, the detailing is a bit to much for me, for example an entire chapter of Kierkegaards expenses on food. But it is a must-read for anyone interested in Kierkegaard.
It is also a good introduction to Kierkegaards litterature.
I'd compare reading this book to watching a gigantic DVD box set - the sopranos, say. Once you're done with it you kind of feel relieved because of the time investment spent, glad to get back to the 'real' world - but you also know you'll miss having the lead characters in your life. In this case its just one lead, so solitary and yet so fascinating.
Soren Kiekegaard is not always the easiest writer to read. This biography, by an Associate Professor at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Center at the University of Copenhagen, is not only a great biography, but also an excellent summary/introduction to the work of this mercurial and purposefully anbiguous philosopher.
Moses Mikheyev
First read Walter Lowrie's A Short Life of Kierkegaard before reading this book. This book is, quite bluntly, one of the most fascinating books I've ever read on Kierkegaard. It is massive in size, thorough in scope, but oh-so-beautiful and well-written! It is simply a masterpiece.
Robert Tessmer
My first biography of a philosopher and I loved it. It read like a well written novel.

The following web review should help if you decide to take this large book on.
Garff is very thorough with regular flashes of humorous remarks. Provides a proper correction to the typical portrait of K., ultimately leading to a better grasp of how K.'s character is intertwined with his writings.
now i know which books of his to read and which not to bother with. A fascinating eccentric character. The last of the pre-Darwinian philosophers worth their salt. A cranky passionate guy.
This is a decent biography of Kierkegaard, although I think that Garff strays too often into a psycho-analytic analysis of Kierkegaard that is, at best, speculative.
Må beundre detaljegraden. Men meget lang. Brugte et år på den. Men så ved man alt absolut alt om Søren Kierkegaard.
Joel Zartman
Good and thorough. All one could want except that one is left with no questions remaining.
Interesting, but rather tedious now and then. Overall a nice book.
Nikolaj Hansted
For lang... Og dog virkelig god ;-)
very good read.
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Alle Tiders Kierkegaard Kierkegaard når han er bedst - og værst Regines gåde Den Søvnløse: Kierkegaard Læst æstetiskbiografisk Written Images: Soren Kierkegaard's Journals, Notebooks, Booklets, Sheets, Scraps, and Slips of Paper

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