Excerpt From: “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life” by Søren Kierkegaard

…”A cursory glance at the new-found papers immediately revealed that they formed two œuvres which differed markedly also in externals. One of them was written on a kind of letter-vellum in quarto, with a fairly wide margin. The handwriting was legible, sometimes even a little elegant, just once in a while careless. The other was written on full sheets of foolscap divided into columns, in the way that legal documents and the like are written. The handwriting was clear, rather extended, uniform, and even; it looked as though it belonged to a businessman. The contents, too, proved straightaway to be dissimilar. The one part contained a number of aesthetic essays of varying length, the other consisted of two long inquiries and one shorter, all ethical in content, as it seemed, and in the form of letters. On closer examination this difference proved fully corroborated, for the latter compilation consisted of letters written to the author of the first.

But I must find some briefer way of designating the two authors. To that end I have scrutinized the papers very carefully but have found nothing, or as good as nothing. Regarding the first author, the aesthteticist, there is no information at all. As for the other, the letter-writer, one learns that he was called Vilhelm, had been a judge, but of what court is not specified. If I were to go strictly by the historical facts and call him Vilhelm I would lack a corresponding appellation for the first author and have to give him some arbitrary name. I have therefore preferred to call the first author A, the second B.

In addition to the longer essays there were, among the papers, some slips on which were written aphorisms, lyrical effusions, reflections. The handwriting alone indicated that they belonged to A. The contents confirmed this.

The papers themselves I then tried to arrange as best I could. With B’s papers that was fairly easily done. One of the letters presupposes the other. In the second letter there is a quotation from the first. The Third letter presupposes the two previous ones.

Arranging A’s papers was not such an easy matter. I have therefore let chance determine the order, that is to say, I have left them in the order in which I found them, of course without being able to decide whether this order has any chronological value or notional significance.” …



Kierkegaard, Søren . Either/Or. England: Penguin Books, 2004. 30-31. print.


For further reading:

Life in the USA-434-Either/Or: Between “A” and Judge Vilhelm


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