Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (trans. Alastair Hannay), (Penguin: London 1985)
I can comfortably tell you that this is kinda sorta about Abraham’s aborted sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14). However, that’s about all I can tell you after slogging through the longest 158 pages of my life.
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The other problem is that Kierkegaard seems addicted to changing his style and subject. You find yourself reading a speech in praise of Abraham. A bit later you’re reading about whether it was ethically permissible for that patriarch to conceal the intended sacrifice from his family (a fair enough question). And then for no obvious reason he wants to talk about a fucking mermaid (pp.120-125). I was disappointed in my hopes that there’d be a postscript telling readers that the whole thing had been 1843’s version of the Sokal hoax.
If you’re a student and you’ve been set this text for a course, you have my pity. If you’re looking for your next book, save your money. But if you’re looking for a cure for insomnia, this is it.