On October 9, 1914, in the early months of World War I, Ferdinand Ebner (18821931) wrote the following in his Notizen. Tagebücher. Lebenserinnerungen: “Read Kierkegaard yesterday. One cannot read him as one does another writer or book. The frivolity, that is, the inner recklessness (in the truest sense of the word), all ‘intellectualism’ he makes immediately tangible for the reader as no one else does.”2 This was Ebner’s first mention of Kierkegaard. A day after this entry Ebner wrote concerning the indescribable effect Kierkegaard had on him: “Tangible effect of Kierkegaard-but I want to expose myself to it, although I don’t know what can come forth. In any case he speaks to possibilities in me that have lain ready in me for a long time.”3 The question is what exactly this effect that Kierkegaard had on Ebner was. Michael Theunissen points out that Ebner’s reflections on the metaphysics of individual existence, which Ebner wrote in 1914 in his Notizen. Tagebücher. Lebenserinnerungen, contain one of the first “existential” comments on Kierkegaard’s existentialism.4 Yet the timing of these comments should not be overlooked. What is important, then, is to consider the ethicopolitical situation that surrounded Ebner’s

1 SKS 8, / LR, p. 62. 2 Ferdinand Ebner, Notizen. Tagebücher. Lebenserinnerungen, in Schriften, vols. 1-3, ed. by Franz Seyr, Munich: Kösel 1963-65, vol. 2, p. 585 (trans. by Patricia Stanley). 3 Ibid. (trans. by Patricia Stanley). 4 Michael Theunissen writes: “Die Fragmente einer Metaphysik der individuellen Existenz, die er 1914, nach verschiedenen Vorarbeiten, unter dem Titel Ethik und Leben zusammen

reception of Kierkegaard. This will help define the indescribable effect Kierkegaard had on Ebner, an effect, I believe, other religious thinkers experienced in their own respective receptions of Kierkegaard at this time of great political crises.