Søren and Copenhagen: A Complicated Relationship – An Excerpt from Kierkegaard

ZA Blog on 2 years ago. Tagged under ,,.

In today’s excerpt from Kierkegaard: A Single Life, Stephen Backhouse introduces us to the fascinating and complicated relationship between the infamous philosopher and the people of Copenhagen, his home city.



Copenhagen itself became crucial to his writing process. Lengthy walks around Copenhagen were part of the authorial process, because it was on the city streets that Søren “put everything into its final form.” Søren “wrote” while walking. The hiking stage was only the first part of his process. The second stage occurred when he got home, where he would be observed by his servant, Anders Westergaard, standing at his desk, hat still on head and umbrella tucked under arm, furiously scribbling down with his hands the words he had already written by foot. Yet Copenhagen was no mere inert backdrop. The…

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5 Things I Learned About Kierkegaard’s Work from Stephen Backhouse

Jeremy Bouma on 2 years ago. Tagged under ,,.

9780310520887_image“Whatever your take on modern life, there are two things that can be said about [Søren] Kierkegaard: his influence on our various modes of thought is widespread, and the exact nature of that influence is difficult to articulate.” (12)

Part of the task in Stephen Backhouse’s new biography on this enigmatic figure, Kierkegaard: A Single Life, is to make sense of this influence. He accomplishes this magically through a nearly-one-hundred page overview of his works. He also does so by chronicling his work through vivid portraits of his major life moments.

Through prose so compelling it often reads like a novel, I learned five things about the style and substance of Kierkegaard’s work and influence.

1) His Work Marinated

A striking aspect of Kierkegaard’s work is that much of it sat…

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5 Things I Learned About Kierkegaard’s Life from Stephen Backhouse

Jeremy Bouma on 2 years ago. Tagged under ,,.

9780310520887_imageI hate to admit it, but not only did I skimp on Kierkegaard during my ThM in historical theology, Robert Bretall’s anthology of Kierkegaard’s works about did me in. Thankfully, I’m not alone in my struggle to grasp and appreciate the man and his ideas.

In his new book Kierkegaard: A Single Life Stephen Backhouse says, “It is not just theologians who find the influence of Kierkegaard hovering behind much of their work, only to find the life and thought of the man himself hard to get to know” (11)

Backhouse was spurred to write this book after a learned friend said the Kierkegaard he met in a book on his life and thought “seemed dense, distant, and unappealing.” (11) So he wanted to introduce this towering cultural influence in prose so compelling…

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Pleased to Meet You, Stephen Backhouse – An Interview with the Author of Kierkegaard: A Single Life

ZA Blog on 2 years ago. Tagged under ,.

In the inaugural edition of Pleased to Meet You, we introduce Stephen Backhouse, lecturer in Social and Political Theology at St. Mellitus College, London, and author of our upcoming book Kierkegaard: A Single Life. Stephen has published a number of critically well-received books and articles on religion, history, and Kierkegaard, from the popular Compact Guide to Christian History for Lion through the academic Kierkegaard’s Critique of Christian Nationalism for Oxford University Press. Recently, we spent some time to get to know Stephen.

IMG_0967Where are you from?

That question is surprisingly complicated to answer. I was born in Western Canada and spent my teenage years there. When I was nineteen I moved to the United Kingdom for an adventure and have basically lived in various parts of England ever since, most recently…

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