Kierkegaard’s right hand
DOI link for Kierkegaard’s right hand
Kierkegaard’s right hand book
Kierkegaard’s ‘upbuilding discourses’ were initially published in small sets of two, three and four in 1843 and 1844 and the remainders were subsequently collected and sold as Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses.1 Thereafter Kierkegaard continued to deploy the genre, although often incorporating it into works published as books (e.g. Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits and Works of Love) and increasingly accentuating the specifically Christian element in them. This already raises the important interpretative question of whether there is a qualitative distinction within the discourse literature between what might be called the more humanistic ‘upbuilding’ works and the more doctrinal ‘Christian’ works, and, if such a distinction is worth making, where exactly the line is to be drawn. Which works are ‘merely’ upbuilding, which exclusively Christian? And within the Christian works themselves, can we identify the continuing presence of upbuilding elements, or are these quite extirpated? It will already be clear from the Introduction that the interpretation offered here is one that refuses to make a final division between the upbuilding and the Christian and that regards even the most radical Christian works as readable in the light of the category of the upbuilding. This, of course, is not to say that there is no development of content, style or method, but simply that this development follows a path whose trajectory is already laid down within the purely upbuilding works. In a later chapter I shall show by a comparative reading of discourses from the earlier and the later periods how the distance between the upbuilding and the radically Christian writings is actually less than it might appear. Here, however, I shall look at the issue primarily in the light of Kierkegaard’s own programmatic comments about the place of the discourses in the authorship, comments that, as we shall see, come from different strata of his work and, since they can by no means easily be harmonised, provoke important interpretative questions.