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Either/Or Author Kierkegaard Sent 31 Letters to Regina Olsen

  • 1aKRegina
    Søren Kierkegaard and Regine Olsen

    Drawing comparisons to, among others, Dante and Beatrice, Abelard and Héloïse, he says of the couple that they are “together in eternity because they never could be together in earthy life.” Indeed, Kierkegaard and Regine’s story often reads like the stuff of folk tales and verse epics (cryptic notes and secret gestures abound). For instance, the 31 letters Kierkegaard sent Regine between their engagement and its dissolution a year later, Garff says, are “not ordinary communication; they are art” (the passage in Regines gåde appears word-for-word in Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography):

    […] by virtue of their indisputably aesthetic qualities, the letters make it clear that their author was to become not a husband but a writer. So they were actually farewell letters, grandiose exercises in the art of indirect communication: With enormous discretion and employing the entire panoply of the most nuanced shades of language, they try to make Regine realize that the person who sings her praises in letter after letter has long since disappeared from her life because he has lost himself in recollection of her and is thus utterly unsuited for married life. Indeed, recollection, from which fantasy draws its life, is also the source of the death that divides the lovers. In looking back upon events, Kierkegaard claimed that the very next day after Regine had said “Yes,” he had already realized that he had “made a mistake.”
    Thanks to Garff’s book, we can more fully appreciate the extent to which the perception of Regine as a woman cruelly seduced by an eccentric philosopher is inaccurate. On the contrary, she proved to be at once selfless and cunning; her final gesture, this glorious double-act, allowed her to reveal the nature of her relationship with Kierkegaard while simultaneously disappearing into posterity, the innermost secrets of her being intact. Though their graves at Assistens Churchyard in Copenhagen are separated by just 50 yards, it is in the papers Regine received on an island in the Caribbean that the remains of their love are buried. “Posthumous papers are like a ruin,” the aesthete A writes in Either/Or, “what haunt could be more natural for the interred?”’

    Leap of Faith

    See “Leap of Faith” gif animation from Post Mutant Eggplant: Gravity and Grace – (scroll down.. down down down)

    Happy Valentine!

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