Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life” as Want to Read:
Either/Or: A Fragment of Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  7,191 ratings  ·  175 reviews
'What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?'

Either/Or is the earliest of the major works of Søren Kierkegaard, one of the most startlingly original thinkers and writers of the nineteenth century, and the first which he wrote under a pseudonym, as he would for his greatest philosophical writings. Adopting the viewpoints of
Paperback, 640 pages
Published December 1st 1992 by Penguin Classics (first published February 20th 1843)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Either/Or, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Either/Or

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,191 ratings  ·  175 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Either/Or: A Fragment of Life
Søren Kierkegaard was clever, arrogant, verbose, observant, cynical, ironic, prolific, religious, gifted. His writing is dense, polemical, lyrical, remarkable.

His magnum opus, Either-Or, is an exceptional work. I struggled my way through it, much as I imagine I would struggle to climb Mount Everest – through nebulous passages, up windy roads that sometimes narrowed, sometimes digressed into unexpected territory, always challenged my footing and my stamina. But on nearly every page there was a s
Roy Lotz
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Of course, a critic resembles a poet to a hair, except that he has no anguish in his heart, no music on his lips.

This is one of those rare unclassifiable books, whose genre was born the day it was published and which has since left no heirs. Kierkegaard gives us what appears, at first, to be a sort of literary experiment: the papers of two imaginary characters, found inside the escritoire by a third imaginary character. These two characters—referred to as ‘A’ and ‘B’—serve as the titular eit
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looks like Søren Kierkegaard was right.

One world. One destination. But two different strokes for two very different types of folks. The Eithers - and the Ors. Will they both get to their destination?

Let’s look at Zeno’s Paradox. I know, you’re gonna say that’s the oldest con in the book - extrapolating a purely mathematical formula onto practical reality to subvert it - but doesn’t layering both the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics onto reality do that too, and aren’t they both largel
Brent McCulley
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Easily one of the best books I have read this year, as this year nears the end, I can say without a doubt that Kierkegaard was truly a genius. It is not without purpose that my mind immediately rushes to Nietzsche pithy aphorism on genius wherein he writes,
"Every deep thinker is more afraid of being understood than being misunderstood. In the latter case, perhaps his vanity suffers, but the former hurts his heart, his sympathy, which always says, "Alas, why do you want to have it as hard as I d
Sean Blake
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A book full of musings on many different elements of life and issues which are still very much relevant today, Either/Or is a wonderful book, not just as a piece of philosophy, but as pure literature. Soren Kierkegaard writes like a poet, which makes his philosophical writings so entertaining and enlightening to read.

A guide to a meaningful existence, Kierkegaard explores the aesthetic and ethical ideologies of life through two characters: A, the aesthetician and Judge Wilhelm, the ethicist. Par
AJ Griffin
Sep 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that you read that covers a bunch of things you had been thinking about on your own, at which point you realize "oh: i'm not really that smart, am I?"

But as a general rule, I like anyone who agrees with me, and I like the way Kerigaodigjadkfaodfkadsdfnsldfkasdfnlaskdn (sp?) writes. 4 stars from me.

also a very very good album, but that's a different deal.
Khashayar Mohammadi
I've been on a Kierkegaard Binge, and after re-reading all his shorter works, I started "Either/Or" with enthusiasm; but it really is a hard book to review as a whole.

Its definitely one of my all time favorites, not just philosophically, but over-all. But it just didn't feel right to give it the full 5/5.

Kierkegaard is more a writer than a philosopher, such that in poetic congruence with the themes of this book, his writing never ceases to be Aesthetic, but it does cease to be philosophical (?)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2016 added it
Shelves: ebooks
From Part Two: (1) The Aesthetic validity of marriage

Marriage was constructed with highest in mind: lasting possession. To conquer, one needs pride; to possess, humility. To conquer one needs to be violent; to possess, to have patience. To conquer, greed; to possess, contentment... Pride lends itself superbly to representation, for what is essential in pride is not succession in time but intensity in the moment. Humility is hard to represent just because it is indeed successive. In the case of h
Marcus Speh
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
kierkegaard's either/or which i first read in the german translation (possibly a little closer to the danish original) is a first rate philosophical excursion that, much like many of the works of nietzsche, is also a first rate literary pleasure. it is only reluctantly that i call this book "non-fiction". if published today, e.g. in mcsweeney's, either/or, k.s first published book, would blow people away just the same and lead to a global existential outcry of youths. k. has always informed my w ...more
Simon Robs
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Three stars means I liked it - but given a directive HE could have made this dyad FAR less convoluted and still entertained a/us readers (even though it most certainly deserves 4or5). I don't have to understand it all to do so, right? There were lucid passages and then there were obscure lengthy digressions that took your head for a ride. There was of course the gap of time and context to hinder meaning as well. Anyone who can get so far down the rabbit hole of parsing the seduction of a young m ...more
S.J. Pettersson
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: worn-spines
Either you have read this book, or you have not. If you have read it, you will not require a review, if you have not, non will suffice to describe its content.
A friend took me to visit Kierkegaard's grave at assistens kirkrgården in Copenhagen during a difficult time in my life. Ben Webster is also buried there.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
I found the 'Either' part of the book somewhat tedious in itself. Music, art, seduction, Mozart and Don Giovanni is the greatest opera ever and so on. It took the 'Or' part of the book for me to really appreciate what was going on with the book as a whole. The universal can never be understood except through the particular (big theme with Kierkegaard and also Hegel but Hegel develops a coherent philosophy to deal with it).

Kierkegaard really once again gets to the heart of the issue of being hum
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Are passions, then, the Pagans of the soul? Reason alone baptized?

I guess the choice of this quote in the beginning of the book tells us a lot about the common thread in this book and the rest of his work.

So the book is divided into two parts and Victor Eremita is the editor who published the work.

The part I written by the young ironic aesthete “A” contains a lot of witty aphorisms, an essay on Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a very interesting essay on tragedy in ancient and modern drama and an insightf
Logophile (Heather)
Feb 23, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a slow read. Not because it isn't interesting but because it demands every available brain cell be focused. His discussions of the aesthetic and then the ethical life are presented by means of letters, and a diary, written by different characters created by Kierkegaard. This is a devise to show the various views from the inside.
Having read Fear and Trembling before this definitely helped me sort out some of what he was saying. An understanding his views regarding despair, resignation,
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it; if you marry or do not marry, you will regret both; Laugh at the world’s follies, you will regret it, weep over them, you will also regret that; laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you will regret both; whether you laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it, believe her not, you will also regret that; believe a woman or believe her not, you wi ...more
John Hatley
I always feel obliged to point out that the number of stars I give a book, or in fact my comments in the "review box" are less an evaluation of the book itself than they are of my ability to understand and appreciate it. In this book Kierkegaard describes his views on the differences between leading an aesthetic life and an ethical life and earns the distinction of being one of the first existentialists. His views about the respective roles of men and women in society are, however, very much a r ...more
Oct 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: artists, seducers, judges
Shelves: booksireadin2006
Even if you are not interested in philosophy, this book is great to read just for its literary style. Kierkegaard speaks through a pseudonymous editor, who has compiled the diary of an aesthete who is also a seducer of young girls. Warning the aesthete is a judge who pleads with him to choose an ethical life over his aesthetic gallavanting lifestyle.

Kierkegaard is not only a great philosopher, but also a great writer. This is his first work and also the best introduction to his later philosophy.
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enten you Love this / Eller you don't. It had a big impact on my life for sure...
Volumes I & II, unabridged. Disappointing. 2.5 stars. Too long, too often long and boring, and too philosophically sloppy. In a word, sophomoric. Unfortunately the primary appeal in the blurring of the line between novel and philosophy does not, in this iteration, fulfill its coded promise and rise above the sum of its parts. Indeed it fails to satisfy as either or – no pun intended.

It’s usually a bad sign when a translator deems it necessary to warn: “[passages] which not only are badly express
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Yes, I assure you that if my own life, through no fault of my own, were so fraught with sorrows and sufferings that I could call myself the greatest tragic hero, revel in my pain, and appal the world by calling attention to it, my choice is made; I divest myself of the hero's apparel and of tragedy's pathos, I am not the afflicted one who can be proud of his suffering, I am the humble one who is aware of his sin. I have only one expression for what I suffer-guilt; one expression for my pain-rep ...more
Aug 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Either/or is discredited by its principle reliance on the necessity to choose between an aesthetic or ethical life. Kierkegaard makes the point that we have to choose between these if we want to have purpose to life because of the inherent contradiction between the two. However this choice seems arbitrary and unnatural. Even if necessary (which I doubt it is), why propose a philosophy that's impossible for a vast majority of people to apply?

While the logic is pretty shady for a work considered t
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Alastair Hannay writes that the "motivation" for Either/Or was "probably a combination of two things:" 1. breaking off with Regine Olsen and 2. his confrontation with Schelling's philosophy. I'm fascinated by the whole breakup story. I've long tried to figure out why he did it. I think it was Francis Bacon who said something like "He who has a wife and children has given hostages to fortune." Or maybe it was Kevin Bacon. In any case, I think Soren made the choice to write and he did not want any ...more
Edward III
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of those rare things, a philosophical work that might actually change you. Works of philosophy should either make you look at the world differently, or yourself differently. Either/Or is in the latter class.

This is the first book by the first existentialist philospher, the Dane Soren Kierkegaard. In many ways it is unusual, such as I have described above, and also in terms of its structure. It is written under a pseudonym (Victor Eremita) who himself has not actually "written" t
Matias Dalsgaard
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I very much learned thinking and observing from Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard is at the same time a philosopher, a psychologist and a writer. In Either-Or you find all these aspects of Kierkegaard. The aesthetic observer in part one and the ethic and religious philosophy in part two of the book. A good place to start getting acquainted with Kierkegaard's style and intellectual universe.
my name is corey irl
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
A: take many lovers! maximise enjoyment!
B: marry! love your wife with all your soule!
C: Most famous cat on the Internet: Maru - compilation (329.9 Mb)
Kate Mcphail
I read an abridged version of this and let me tell you 220 pages is plenty. Not saying it's bad or anything, but I was relieved to get to the end. A lot to think about and there were many passages I underlined. I also noticed through the old margin scribbling that I had read part of this long ago, but my teenager self could not have known how silly it was to jump around in a work like this--useless. Either start from the beginning/Or not at all 😂 I guess I broke Kierkegaard's own admonishment to ...more
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kierkegaard loves puzzles, and here's one: what could one possibly glean out of a book edited by a pseudonym, comprising two sets of more-or-less thematically united letters, the first set mostly written by another pseudonym (who also presents a diary written yet by another pseudonym) and the other set written by yet another pseudonym who replies directly to the writer of the first set, basing their arguments on the lifestyle and personality of that pseudonym (which the reader doesn't really hav ...more
May 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Dear Mr. E,

I leave this review here in case you ever find yourself perusing this section of my reading list. It's also a place I will refer to in our discussions when I did not expand adequately on my thoughts on Kierkegaard.

"Either/Or: A Fragment of Life" is a beautifully written book. It is not a book one loves but one lusts. In the words of the author "for what distinguishes love from lust is its having the stamp of the eternal. For the sensual is the instantaneous. It seeks instant satisfact
Ridzuan Rosli
Jun 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No one comes back from the dead, no one has entered the world without crying; no one is asked when he wishes to enter life, not when he wishes to leave — Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or (1843/1992)

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher. He was born in Copenhagen in 1813, the youngest of seven children. He is today, widely known as the Father of Existentialism in spite of it was entitled either Martin Heidegger or Jean-Paul Sartre. His work was influenced by the Greek World such as Aristot
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Insider Tips To Buying A New Vehicle 1 6 Mar 26, 2019 10:57PM  
PewDiePie's Liter...: Either/Or - Søren Kierkegaard 1 120 Feb 20, 2019 12:52PM  
mesoscopic 1 2 Jul 13, 2018 05:35AM  
Existentialism: Crop Rotation 3 42 Jul 24, 2012 05:06AM  
Existentialism: The Unhappiest One 2 73 Jul 23, 2012 07:57AM  
Existentialism: Shadowgraphs 2 16 Jul 23, 2012 07:31AM  
Existentialism: The Immediate Erotic Stages or the Musical Erotic 8 91 Jul 20, 2012 07:33AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Existentialism is a Humanism
  • Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
  • Ethics
  • Philosophical Investigations
  • Critique of Pure Reason
  • The Gay Science
  • Being and Time
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra
  • Beyond Good and Evil
  • Essays and Aphorisms
  • Beyond the Pleasure Principle
  • Metaphysics
  • Being and Nothingness
  • On the Genealogy of Morals
  • Meditations on First Philosophy
  • On Certainty
  • De Anima (On the Soul)
  • The Nicomachean Ethics
See similar books…
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian. Kierkegaard strongly criticised both the Hegelianism of his time and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Church of Denmark. Much of his work deals with religious themes such as faith in God, the institution of the Christian Church, Christian ethics and theology, and the emotions and feelings of individua ...more

News & Interviews

  Award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa’s highly anticipated new book, Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America, arrives...
6 likes · 0 comments
“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.” 1050 likes
“In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant… My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love.” 828 likes
More quotes…