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Works of Love Paperback – March 10, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) lived in Copenhagen, Denmark. His books include Works of Love and Spiritual Writings (translated and edited by George Pattison).


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061713279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061713279
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe on August 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is literally impossible. I mean those words in every possible semantic combination. This man's heart has been to places I can only dream of. Every other line I just have to pause to shake my head and wonder how he is even able to see the the things he writes. And then he proceeds to capture these ideas in words. Everything is logically consistent and even harder to do, spiritually consistent. Kierkegaard really clarified for me the battle and the difference between holy, eternal logic versus earthly, temporal logic. I especially like the last 2 chapters: his definitions of transparency and eternal repetition. I get chills thinking about it. Props to the translator. She has done an excellent job and the notes included in the back were not just anecdotes but served to elucidate some of the more difficult ideas.

Overall, I just felt so blessed by this book. I've read my fair share of books and by chapter 2, Works of Love became the best book I had ever read. For anyone reading Kierkegaard, consider also Purity of Heart is to Will one Thing, The Sickness unto Death and the amazing classic Fear and Trembling.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on October 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
The command to love your neighbour is something from Christian writings that, even as an atheist, I admire and envy. Fortunately, one doesn't have to be a Christian follow this rule and I'd be much more comfortable with Christianity if it placed more emphasis on this personal and spiritual rule, and less on specific literal interpretations or injunctions.

Kierkegaard didn't find enough of the spiritual side of Christianity in the Church of Denmark. For him that church was a social club and church members simply labeled themselves Christians, without understanding what it was that a Christian had to do. So in "Works of Love", he picks apart one verse of the Bible, a verse which many Christians would say is the foundation of the religion: You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

In picking it apart however, Kierkegaard makes us realize just how difficult it is to follow this command. Loving our neighbour implies things that we don't always realize at first. Kierkegaard takes this apparently simple sentence; he points out each key word, and makes us realize how rich in meaning it is.

+ You shall love your neighbour as YOURSELF.
+ You shall love your neighbour AS yourself.
+ You shall love your NEIGHBOUR as yourself.
+ You SHALL love.
+ YOU shall love.
+ You shall LOVE.

Do you love yourself? Isn't there a part of you that wallows in despair, shame, or fear? If you must love your neighbour as yourself, do you not also at the same time have the duty to love yourself? If you are to love your neighbour, you must therefore love yourself.

What does "AS yourself" imply? HOW do you love yourself? How should you love yourself? As much but not less as you love anything or anyone.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cultural ghost on August 15, 2013
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"Works of Love" is argument-driven and therefore fits well into our modern day back-and-forth between secular and religious perspectives. Kierkegaard's position is simple: Love itself is a hidden in the lives and actions of individuals, and therefore much of our rhetoric about love is superficial and selfish. As a prescription, Kierkegaard argues that the Christian God is essential to understanding and realizing love - just as love is hidden, so to is God, and finding one is entangled with finding the other.

Kierkegaard's arguments are more compelling and thoughtful Christian argument than modern readers are used to (though they are not targeted to atheists and do not deal with scientific materialism). Kierkegaard rewards non-Christian readers by taking the Christian directive "love your neighbor as yourself" and examining it. He does not "preach" and no one can confuse his writing with a sermon. This is basically applied philosophy, with a emphatic emphasis on how one should live and what that way of living means. Kierkegaard covers topics like remembering the dead, dealing with strangers (neighbors), and most poignantly dealing with one's self.

The most striking claim, in my mind, was Kierkegaard's argument that one has to love oneself first before one can love another ("as yourself"). Properly loving one's self is a major topic for casual and intellectual readers alike in today's carnivals of self-help carnivals and ethical-carousels. The writing and conceptual depth of this book reward the reader with a coherent argument for Christian love. Agreeing with Kierkegaard is not required, but thinking is.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Hagerman on October 22, 2014
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Kierkegaard is a far more lucid thinker than most people give him credit for. He has a tendency to go off on tangents, which can make him seem incoherent, but you never get the sense that he's using big words or complex sentences to hide a lack of content - he just has a lot to say, and sometimes his passion gets the best of him. (Sort of like Prince Myshkin in The Idiot, who doesn't always have time to explain how he got from point A to point B because he's about to have a seizure brought on by his emotional desperation.)

It's been a while since I read it, but the quote that's stuck with me is "love believes everything - and yet is never deceived." It's easy to believe in nothing, Kierkegaard points out, because there are no risks involved. But believing in something means putting yourself out there, which means risking humiliation, disappointment, and failure. The remarkable thing, Kierkegaard concludes, is that believing in everything makes you even more vulnerable than believing in something, and yet completely secure beyond the nihilist's wildest dreams.

I took a star off just because the book can be slow reading, but the content itself is well worth the time spent figuring out the reasoning (and looking up Biblical references).
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