A Kierkegaard Anthology
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Kierkegaard is enjoying something of a revival of late, with many of his works appearing in new editions, and a major new biography available. The English-speaking world has long been aware of Kierkegaard without being very familiar with his work and issues. One might be surprised that Kierkegaard is not better known, since one of his primary focuses upon philosophy is that it begins and ends with the individual - in many ways, he is anti-Hegelian looking for a way of relating existence to the individual, and not to universals.

Kierkegaard was very much a cynic, but still remained a faithful Christian all of his life, if not a faithful adherent to the institution of the church. Kierkegaard was also a satirist and wit, and sometimes it is difficult to discern where that aspect ends and the serious philosophical work begins. He is often considered the first of the Existentialists, but in many ways his work does not quite fit that category.

This collection contains selections from the following major and minor works of Kierkegaard.

* The Journals * Either/Or * Two Edifying Discourses * Fear and Trembling * Repetition * Philosophical Fragments * Stages on Life's Way * Concluding Unscientific Postscript * The Present Age * Edifying Discourses in Various Spirits * Works of Love * The Point of View for My Work as an Author * The Sickness Unto Death * Training in Christianity * Two Discourses at the Communion on Fridays * The Attack Upon Christendom * The Unchangeableness of God

This collection is no mere collection of quotable-quotes or of key passages, but gives generous inclusion of major sections of the works. Kierkegaard did not write in traditional academic or philosophical structure, so some of his writing is difficult to get through. Part personal reflection, part polemic, part analysis, part literary creative flourish - all of these come together in a fascinating way.

Kierkegaard deals with issues of estrangement and alienation, despair, universals and abstractions, individuality and subjectivity. Kierkegaard sees the person as existing in three different levels - the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious. These are inter-related but distinct in many ways; as they involve the breadth of human experience, Kierkegaard is no mere philosopher, but also a sociologist, a psychologist, a theologian, an historian, and much more.

This is an excellent one-volume edition of Kierkegaard's work, from which one may gain much insight. If coupled with the recent biography by Joakim Garff, it is a very handy reference for Kierkegaard's primary texts together with the insightful writing of Garff.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Many consider it objectionable (probably Kierkegaard among them!) to chop up philosophical works so literary in style into pieces to be patched together in an anthology. Others would note that a philosopher is best introduced through a painstaking reading of a classic and definitive text, and thus Plato is to be met in "The Republic," Nietzsche in "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," and the later Wittgenstein in "Philosophical Investigations." In the case of Kierkegaard, however, no one work adequately expresses the multi-faceted nature of his messages. His individual works are incomplete as representations of his overall vision. I find, anyway, that they each represent a finely crafted meditation on a crucial aspect of his thought which cannot be fully understood without having all the other aspects in mind. They serve more like chapters in a larger book than they stand independently on their own. That's why Bretall's anthology which presents them as a whole is so valuable.
Bretall also avoids chopping up chapters and ripping quips and humorous digressions or controversial statements out of their context. For the most part he presents key chapters in their entirety and helps to reproduce their context for the reader either by explaining it in his helpful introductions or by presenting enough chapters from a given work that the context of a particular chapter is clear.
Understanding Kierkegaard's context and that of his writings and that of the chapters within them is so crucial to fruitful engagement of his ideas that this compiled tornado of thought that Bretall provides is the best place to start reading him.
But then again, I could be bias because that's how I started reading him...
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 1999
Although SK is not an easy read due perhaps to his prolixity and sometimes tortuous reasoning, this anthology provides the reader with an excellent overview and foretaste of his more demanding, full-length works. Perhaps the single-best introduction to SK in print.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2011
In a philosophy course on an introduction to Kierkegaard that I took in graduate school, this was one of the texts we used. It's an excellent primer for someone who has relatively little or no knowledge of the "father of existentialism."

I highly recommend it; but to any lover of wisdom, don't stop with just this volume. Princeton University Press has published almost his entire corpus operam, so if you get the wherewithal, check them out too.

Happy reading!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2012
you can read this til it brings you to your knees. It's too brilliant really to be of much practical or even positive use. It's a weapon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2012
If you want a glimpse into the realm of existentialist and the precursors to other philosophies, such as absurdisim in Albert Camus, than look no further! Kierkegaard is a brilliant writer and this collection is well put together, including most of his essential works to give even the new-comer to philosophy a solid grasp on existential philosophy. Worth it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2013
The product is as advertised. As to Kierkegaard's writings themselves,I am enjoying both the challenge to comprehension, and the astonishing degree to which I am in sympathy. I had to learn to not belabor each point when it became too intensely abstract for a man of relatively lesser intellect. Enlightening nevertheless.No one said being an existentialist is easy.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2002
this is a good collection but I think some selections from The Concept of Anxiety - which is Kierkegaard at his philosophically most sophisticated- and maybe even the Concept of Irony, would make this more interesting to philosophy students. Beside these shortcomings its a good anthology available at good prices.
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on March 19, 2015
Good read
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2015
Seemingly every single line of the book was underlined, making it an absolute terror to read through. That book should have been thrown out as opposed to resold.
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