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14 Pages

Elves, Trolls, and Nisses: The Relevance of Supernatural Creatures to Aestheticism, Philosophical Rationalism, and the Christian Faith

ByWill Williams

The influence of German Romanticism on nineteenth-century Denmark, especially given the celebrated cultural and linguistic research of brothers Jacob Grimm (17851863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859), led to a similar Danish interest in folk tales, myths, and fairy stories. Naturally, Kierkegaard participated in this cultural interest in folk and fairy literature, including stories from both his native Denmark and beyond. In his own employment of such fairy tales, though, it should be noted that Kierkegaard’s use is not haphazard or capricious. Kierkegaard is very reflective about the nature and function of fairy tales and uses them in his writing for his own philosophical and theological purposes. What might, in another context, appear to be stories of simple amusement or diversion become tools in Kierkegaard’s hands to illustrate or to polemicize against given philosophical points that have captured his passion.