The Seducer's Diary
The Seducer's Diary
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"In the vast literature of love, The Seducer's Diary is an intricate curiosity--a feverishly intellectual attempt to reconstruct an erotic failure as a pedagogic success, a wound masked as a boast," observes John Updike in his foreword to Søren Kierkegaard's narrative. This work, a chapter from Kierkegaard's first major volume, Either/Or, springs from his relationship with his fiancée, Regine Olsen. Kierkegaard fell in love with the young woman, ten years his junior, proposed to her, but then broke off their engagement a year later. This event affected Kierkegaard profoundly. Olsen became a muse for him, and a flood of volumes resulted. His attempt to set right, in writing, what he feels was a mistake in his relationship with Olsen taught him the secret of "indirect communication." The Seducer's Diary, then, becomes Kierkegaard's attempt to portray himself as a scoundrel and thus make their break easier for her.
Matters of marriage, the ethical versus the aesthetic, dread, and, increasingly, the severities of Christianity are pondered by Kierkegaard in this intense work.
slowly as she did. She walked in the direction of Osterport. I wished to see her closer at hand without being seen. On the corner there was a house from which I might be able to do that. I knew the family and thus needed only to pay them a visit. With a quickened pace, I hurried past her as if I did not notice her in the remotest way. Having gone far ahead of her, I greeted the family all around and then took possession of the window that looked out on the footpath. She came walking along; I
in other respects they know nothing about this household; they never visit there, but Cordelia visits them fiequently. She and the two girls take a coursein the royal kitchm. Therefore,she generally visits there early in the aftemooo sometimesin the moming, never in the evening. Th"y keep very much to themselves. So this is the end of the story; it is apparerrt that there is no bridge over whidr I can steal into Cordelia's house. Consequmtly, she does have a conception of the pains in life, of
is not 64 able to stand out alone; she thr,ows herself into mv arms, not as if I were a lover-no, still completely neutrally. Now, her womanliness is aroused; one coaxes it forth to its extreme point of elasticity, al_ lows her to offend against some actual validity or other. She goes beyond if her womanliness reaches almost supranatural heights; she belongs to me with a world of passion. rhefifth Well, I did not need to go far. She visits at the home of Mr. Baxter the wholesaler. Here I
all the gitl" it front holding hands and the fellows behind, or in another pattem, two girls and one fellow This flock forms the frame; they usually stand or sit under the hees in the great squarein front of the pavillion. They are healthy and lively; the color contrastsare a bit too 156 strong-their clothing as well as their complexions. Inside come the girls from Jylland and Fyn_tall, straight, a little too powerfully built, their clothing somewhat mixed. Here there would be much for the
great flocks and herds of livestock large and small. There was a poor little maiden; she possessedbut a single lamb;u it ate from her hand and drank from her cup. You were the rich man, rich in all the glories of the world; I was the poor one who possessedonly my love. You took it, you delighted in it. Then desire beckoned you, and you sacrificed the little that I possessed-you could sacrifice nothing of your own. There was a rich man; he possessed great flocks and herds. There was a poor little