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Ways in to the Text

Born in Copenhagen in 1813, Søren Kierkegaard rarely left his hometown, making an exception only to study briefly with philosophers in Germany. His family's wealth enabled him to self-publish all of his works, so he never had to worry about censorship. In 1843, he published Fear and Trembling. Fear and Trembling introduces the "knight of faith", a concept Kierkegaard invented to embody the idea of someone whose faith in God survives through trials and hardships. The novelty of Kierkegaard's argument is matched by his unique literary style. He wrote Fear and Trembling under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio—John the Silent. Scholars have always examined Kierkegaard's ideas from a religious or philosophical perspective. A prolific author, Kierkegaard wrote about many aspects of religion and philosophy. But perhaps his greatest contributions remain his writings on dread, anxiety, irony, love, and care. In Fear and Trembling, he focused primarily on how ethics and religion cross over—or diverge.