HOME     Library     CONTENTS: Journals & Papers of Søren Kierkegaard
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II A   -   II C



The article by Martensen in Maanedsskriftet is of a very curious kind. After leap-frogging over all his predecessors he has progressed out into an indeterminate infinity. Because his position is not given — this he specifically announces — his criticism of Hegel is external and his existence is equivocal, and since the article, itself not characterized by a very individualized presentation and tone, does not bear his likeness, so that one was obliged to say when it appeared: Give to Caesar that which is Caesar's and because of his relation to a certain learned man from Munich, his article could be ein fliegendes Blatt aus München, which has now been nailed down in Maanedsskriftet. — (By this likeness I do not mean a facsimile of his handwriting or his features carved in stone, but rather something like a watermark in paper, which both is and is not and which brands as a liar everyone who ventures to pass it off as his own).


If after reading the essay someone were to say that I do indeed speak of the art of storytelling but in the entire essay seem rather to rant against it, I would not wholly agree, inasmuch as I have spoken only against misuse, and I would also point out that I have used the expression storytelling in a more comprehensive sense involving everything with which one occupies a child's mind outside of formal schooling, not all of which can accurately be called play, and in which, of course, storytelling does play a major role.

That so many people are engaged in telling stories to children is a natural consequence of the fact that there are a great number of children and that children have a deeply rooted desire to hear stories, and yet there are very few people who have a talent for storytelling. As a result much harm is done. There are two recommended ways of telling stories to children, but between these two there is a multiplicity of wrong ways.

First, there is the way which children's nurses (and others who may be so categorized) unconsciously follow. They open up a whole world of fantasy to the child, and the fact that they are sincerely convinced of the truth of their stories* must instill a salutary tranquillity in the child, no matter how fantastic the content itself may be. Only when the child himself detects that the teller does not believe stories are the stories damaging — yet not because of the content itself but because of the untruth in regard to the teller — because of the mistrust and suspiciousness which the child gradually develops.

The second way can be followed only by someone who in perfect clarity has reproduced the life of childhood, who knows what this life requires, who knows what is good for it, and now from this vantage point offers children intellectual-emotional nourishment which is beneficial for them, who knows how to be a child; whereas the nursemaids basically are children. (Fortunately, children are able to derive good from both ways, and following the second way certainly does not exclude appreciation of first. On the other hand, the semieducated usually eliminate the process of development valued by one who has a mature view of life.)

* "Nursery-tales" — this expression implies just as much about the mode of telling the tales as it does about the content.

The preparation is not elaborate. The husband comes home from the busy office, puts on his slippers, gets his pipe, kisses mother on the cheek and says, "Well, my dear" (this is to accustom the children to affectionate behaviour) — and now we see a scene common to most children's books — "Uncle Frank," who tells the stories which the children have eagerly anticipated all day, and little Fritz and Mary coming on the run, clapping their hands: "Uncle Frank* is going to tell stories!" The mother clusters the children around her, with the smallest in her arms, and says, "Listen nicely, now, to what your dear uncle is telling!"

* Unfortunately there is a reason for its always being an uncle who appears as the central figure, for the parents' activity is usually limited to making their appearance on the monthly day-of-reckoning as chief administrators or presenters of prizes for noble deeds — in both cases with the precise and punctual conscience of a book-keeper. If, then, there were any uncles, there would undoubtedly be plenty for them to do.

As for the procedure of the storytelling, for our storytellers — all general pursuits on behalf of children outside of formal instruction, and this, too, as much as possible, should be Socratic. One should arouse in children a desire to ask, instead of fending off a reasonable question, which perhaps goes beyond Uncle Frank's general information or in some other way inconveniences him, with the words: "Stupid child! Can't he keep still while I am telling the story?" To prevent more serious scenes, the mother assures that "he will not do it any more." The whole point is to bring the poetic into touch with their lives in every way, to exercise a power of enchantment, to let a glimpse appear at the most unexpected moment and then vanish. One should not schedule the poetic for certain hours and certain days. Children do not jump around such a person like loutish calves with dangling legs and clap their hands because they are going to hear a story. Him they approach in an open, free, confident way, entrust themselves to him, initiate him into many little secrets, tell him about their play, and he knows how to join in, also knows how to give the game a more serious side. The children never distress him or pester him, for they have too much respect and esteem for him.**

* We ourselves ought to learn from children, from their marvelous creativity, which "unlike certain self-important tutors" — we ought to allow to prevail, remembering Christ's words when he was twelve years old, "Did you not know that I must be about my father's business?" — (I believe I have read something similar in one of Mynster's sermons). It is better not to be quick with the prosaic switch, as was the schoolteacher in Alferne, because children have deep feelings — and in this way one avoids, among other things, (O divine nemesis!) falling 1400 yards down beneath the earth and becoming — a ninny.

He knows what they are doing in school. He does not do their homework with them but quietly inquires about their lessons, masters them, not in order to quiz them, not to take a particular part and dramatize it for them, not to give them an opportunity to show off if there are others around — but rather to let a glimpse suddenly leap forth, to connect it in a special way to what usually occupies them, yet entirely en passant, so that the child's soul is electrified and feels, as it were, the omnipresence of something poetic, which is indeed precious to him but which he nevertheless dares not approach too closely.* In this way an intellectual-emotional mobility is constantly nurtured, a continuing attentiveness to what they hear and see, an attentiveness which otherwise has to be produced by external means, for example, by having the children come from a dimly lit room into a brightly lit room, where "Uncle Frank" is sitting, by wearying them the whole day by talking about "how wonderful" it is to hear Uncle Frank tell stories — etc.

* Children are not deeply interested in Greek mythology, at least not in that which in more mature years is regarded as the most magnificent (yet Hercules, possibly — N.B. extraordinary deeds).

However, even though clarity prevails, a certain sentimentality can easily intrude if one forgets that adulthood has what childhood promised. We are inclined, however, to think that it promised a lot more, especially when dealing with exceptionally alert children, and so we intervene alarmingly in their lives (anxiety can actually stem from this cause and not always from trivial complaining). Those daily assurances, "You are happy now, but wait until you are older** — then the troubles will come," etc., have a harmful effect, inasmuch as they strike at the roots of the child and instill a peculiar anxiety as to how long he can continue to be happy (and in this way they are already unhappy). If this continuous Jeremiad makes no impression, it naturally has the same harmful effect as all other misplaced chatter.

** Many begin this so early, while the children are still very small, that occasionally it occurs to such a child to do as the baby Abraham St. Clara tells about, who saw the miserableness of the world so vividly at the time of birth that it ran back into its mother's womb again. — Is this a way to strengthen a child for life? Does this not enervate the child's whole life by depriving it of enthusiasm's perpetuum-mobile?

This indefiniteness [in the Socratic approach] might seem to militate against a certain very proper demand for rigor and clear limitation; this should rather be represented in the schoolroom in the personality of the teacher (here we are concerned with free time). He who in childhood has never been under the gospel but only under law never becomes free+ — maybe this is wrong, but there is something noble in it; whereas the more the law is propounded, the more minor mischief germinates, and nothing is more capable of producing enervation. The eye has a power to call forth sprouts of the good and to crush the evil — but misinterpreted rigor and discipline, a daughter of indolence, almost permits one generation to take revenge on the next for the thrashing it received itself and for the mishandling it has suffered — by treating the next generation in like manner.

+ A state becomes in a sense unfree in that it gives itself law.

But then shouldn't one tell stories? Certainly, mythology and good fairy stories are what the child needs. Or the child is allowed to read them himself and tell them and is then Socratically corrected (gradually correcting by questioning in such a manner that the child is by no means set straight under the coercion of a tutor but seems rather to be correcting others — and anyone who otherwise understands how to handle children will certainly not be in danger of encouraging arrogance). But above all let this be impromptu, not at a set time and place; children should experience early in life that happiness is a fortunate constellation which one should enjoy with gratitude but also know how to discontinue in good time; and above all one should not forget the point of the story. (A mistake I can only touch upon here, although it comes up again later, is this: continually and almost all day long to tell trashy, empty stories and thereby manufacture these readers of novels who devour a volume a day, one after the other, without any specific impression.) Furthermore, one evokes a certain self-activity (drawing and the like) because the story, told in various ways, becomes related to a child's familiar environment.

Now comes the question: what significance does childhood really have? Is it a stage with significance only because it conditions, in a way, the following stages — or does it have an independent value? Some have expanded the latter position to the point where they assume childhood to be fundamentally the highest level attainable by human beings and that everything beyond it is progressive degeneration. The first position has had the practical result that people try to make time pass by* — and if children could be shut up in the dark and force-fed on an accelerated schedule like chickens, everything would certainly be organized to this end.

*This is rooted in the haste of the times, which basically misunderstands every age because it believes that each age-level exists merely for the sake of the next.

Another consequence has been to use this "tiresome time of childhood" primarily for caring for children's physical well-being. In this view the supreme rule of upbringing runs something like this: "The child who does not clean up his plate gets no dessert." — (How frequently children's lives, particularly girls', are embittered by hearing continually that they are good for nothing, etc.)

The mistaken ways come about because one passes beyond the nurse-maid's position but does not go the whole way and thus remains stationary at the halfway point.

First stage. Those who have gone beyond the stage of spontaneity, instead of now in their mature years assimilating childhood transfigured, as would be natural, decay into "being children" (compare fountain-of-youth), those overgrown puppies who are so innocent and naive, who would give anything if their beards never grew enough to require a shave so that they could remain downy, bare-necked youths, who have become children again to such a degree that they talk as children, use all the childish expressions, and who would like ultimately to get all of us to talk as children and write as children talk — a caricature which will surely come to be as soon as the opposite, that children want to be grown-ups, which is common now, has been outlived. It is a tragic-comic sight to see these gangly, childish jumping-jacks leaping around the floor and riding the hobby-horse with the sweet little ones and to hear their dull stories about "innocent and happy childhood."* (Compare their behaviour with that of adolescent girls who want to be grown-up: they parody one another.)

* Compare Hamann, Fünf Hirtenbriefe, das Schuldrama betreffend, Sämtl, Werke, II, pp. 412 ff. But here his all too polemical irony goes too far; basically he maintains that one should learn everything from children in the strictest sense, and therefore his motto reads: "Es ist ein Knabe hier, der hat fünf Gerstenbrot," which obviously says too much. But this is again consistent with his whole tendency, for no doubt he says this not because he himself believes it but in order to humble the world. It is quite different with Socrates — to question as a child " something Hamann also demands; but it is that peculiar polemic which makes him prefer hearing wisdom from Balaam's ass rather than from the wisest man, from a Pharisee against his will than from an apostle or an angel (as he himself says somewhere). His polemic goes too far and is at times, it seems to me, somewhat blasphemous, as if he wanted "to tempt God." — Otherwise there are, of course, excellent things in these five letters.

These stories are "for children and childlike souls" — poetic rinse-water! If this error is found most often among youth, there is also a similar mistaken way among adults who "descend" to children out of the conviction that childhood in itself is so empty and devoid of content that they wish, as it were, to breathe fullness into it. Basically both points of view must presuppose the emptiness of childhood, for otherwise the former would not permit itself to undertake anything so loathsome, something a sound nature would immediately censure, and the other would not undertake to breathe the spirit of life into it.

After a story has been told, it is important not to destroy the entire impression by ending with a "But you do understand, don't you, that it was only a fairy tale?" This sort of thing reappears later in people who have absolutely no sense for the poetic and consequently spoil the impression of every anecdote, etc., by probing its factual truth.

The fantastic and lopsided tendency which storytelling has assumed. It has been considered unreasonable and damaging later to overtook the child's imagination with such stories. On the other hand, it has been considered quite all right to tell something to while away the time and amuse the children. Since it was merely for diversion and they did not want to spend time in preparation,* they started those interminably silly tales about the dog and the cat, etc., telling them with the most horrible monotony. The children, once they are spoiled, continually demand more and more editions of the same, always returning** to the stereotype with one or more important alterations (for example, that once it was a red dog, then a black one).

In the meantime this view was discovered to be wrong, since, indeed, the time could be utilized better, could be used for something better even in the form of jest and play. Two procedures evolved from this — either educate the children morally, as it is called, or impart some useful knowledge.

*Those clever people who think it is not an art to speak with children — to them I say with Hamann: "Kindern zu antworten ist in der That ein Examen rigorosum; auch Kindern durch Fragen anzuholen and zu witzigen ist ein Meisterstück, weil eben Unwissenheit der grosse Sophist bleibt, der so viele Narren zu starken Geistern krönt — et addit cornua pauperi. (Horace, Ode III, 21.)
** Once in a while such people accidentally remember a more fanciful story from their childhood, but they tell it in order to answer the question which comes up as soon as they are finished — "Are there mermaids like that?" — with a "No, mermaids are just something people imagine." Is the fairy tale then so meaningless that one must immediately destroy the story and its impression, that one must promptly break the glittering soap bubble in order to show that all its glory was nothing more than soapy water? Children crave fairy stories, and this alone is sufficient proof of their value. — Now the question arises — to what extent should the storyteller himself believe these stories? If the storyteller himself believes the stories, then I do not think the question will arise for the children as to whether or not it is true. The story should simultaneously exercise such an overwhelming and tranquillizing effect that it never occurs to the children. Not to tell children such exciting imaginative stories and tales leaves an unfilled space for an anxiety which, when not modulated by such stories, returns again all the stronger (compare Tieck, Die Verlobung; Dresden: 1823; pp. 63-65). Compare also the artless, simple story in Nordisk Kjæmpehistorier II, ed Rafn; Copenhagen: 1827 (N.B. naturally the story is not by Rafn), especially the end, p. 9: "Can it be that someone who hears these stories will find that the mighty events and great deeds of the sagas do not square with his experience and for that reason will minimize them" — right: hinc illæ lacrymæ!

The consequence of the second path I shall touch upon slightly. There came as if by magic a plague of natural history, not textbooks but reading books and all kinds of picture books to impart to the children the vocabularies of modern languages, and "Uncle Frank" told of his travels in Africa and designated the plants and animals by their scientific names, and parents and others asked: "What is nose in French?" etc. Or one taught them to pick out a simple piece on the piano. (If one really wishes by such things to keep children from being embarrassed by being conspicuous, then on the other hand one really ought not make children eager to be conspicuous.)

Out of all this there developed a completely atomized knowledge which did not enter into a deeper relationship to children and their existence [Existents], which was not appropriated in an intellectual-emotional way, and which was thus deprived of any possible standard. As a result people fell into the presumption that they were great natural scientists and linguists. If only details are decisive, it is naturally quite incidental how many or how few are required for mastery. Out of this arises seductive opportunism — and the busy Martha's who forget the one thing needful. Of such atomized knowledge it is not true that what is assimilated in youth is never forgotten in old age.

With regard to the mode in which I believe it is necessary for all instruction and upbringing to allow the child to bring forth the life within him in all stillness, I find a good observation in reading Steffen's 4 Nordmænd. Regrettably I have only the Danish translation, the Steen edition. The passage is in Part II, p. 250-52.

I remember an example of how in such a life everything becomes engendering, how everything the children read in the classics became reflected; when they read of ostracism, they introduced it at once into their play, etc.

And now those children's books for "well-behaved, industrious, obedient, lovable, innocent, unspoiled" children — consequently by presenting them with a copy one says to them that they are such, since otherwise it would be a misunderstanding to give them the book.*

*I note a good title in the latest catalog: Blumauer, die kleinen Enkel auf dem Schoosse der erzählenden Grossmutter, ein Gegenstück der kleinen Enkel am Knie des erzählenden Grossvaters. (Exhibition catalog for July, 1836 — January, 1837, p. 27, top.)


To be able to write a truly dramatic rejoinder requires considerable clarity and something beyond generality, the vague indeterminate. At an earlier stage what was supposed to be repartee was written together with the parenthetical remarks usually put in small print to indicate how the performer should act, for example, "with deep feeling," "movingly," etc.

February 4, 1837


The episode Poul Møller includes in his essay on the immortality of the soul in the latest issue of Maanedsskriftet is very interesting; perhaps it will become the usual thing to mitigate the more strictly scholarly-scientific tone with lighter portions which, however, bear forth life much more fully, and in the area of knowledge will be somewhat comparable to the chorus, to the comic portions of romantic dramas.

February 4, 1837


A certain presentiment seems to precede everything which is to happen (cf. a loose sheet*); but, just as it can have a deterring effect, it can also tempt a person to think that he is, as it were, predestined; he sees himself carried on to something as though by consequences beyond his control. Therefore one ought to be very careful with children, never believe the worst and by untimely suspicion or by a chance remark (a flame of hell which ignites the tinder which is in every soul) occasion an anguished consciousness in which innocent but fragile souls can easily be tempted to believe themselves guilty, to despair, and thereby to make the first step toward the goal foreshadowed by the unsettling presentiment — a remark which gives the kingdom of evil, with its stupifying, snake-like eye, an occasion for reducing them to a kind of spiritual paralysis. Of this, too, it may be said: woe unto him by whom the offense comes.

*In margin: The significance of typology with reference to a theory of presentiment. [See II A 584].


I was appalled the first time I heard that ltters of indulgence stated that they absolved from all sins: "etiam si matrem virginem violasset.."

I still remember how I felt when a few years ago, in my youthful, romantic enthusiasm for a master-thief, I said he was merely misusing his talents, that such a man could no doubt change, and my father very earnestly said: "These are crimes that can be fought only with the constant help of God." I hurried to my room and looked at myself in the mirror (see F. Schlegel's Samtl. W., VII, p. 15, bottom). — Or when father frequently declared that it would be good to have "an elderly and revered confessor to whom one could really confide."

Or what romantic terror, what a wealth of possibilities for nameless horror in the departed spirit's asking Christian Eisengrün to come to the graveyard at a stipulated time in 21 days and to pray these words, just these words:

1 Corinthians 2:11: "For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (Kerner, Eine Erscheinung aus dem Nachtgebiete der Natur. 1836 P. 217.)


On looking through a volume of Aftenposten for the year 1782, I see that it tried from its more restricted point of view to do the same as Flyveposten did from its (N.B. Flyveposten has wings) — to understand the strange conflict between normal everyday life and the poetic. Incidentally, Aftenposten is more permeated with a cozy family atmosphere.


When Grundtvig on the basis of a later position retracts a prior position, he does it not in humble recognition of his mistake but out of proud satisfaction over the present position.


Christianity has a certain settling power by affirming the highest degree of relativity, by presenting an idea, an ideal, which is so great that all others disappear alongside it (the romantic and humorous aspect of Christianity). Therefore, it is always far more enjoyable to converse with a Christian, because he has a criterion which is definite; he has a fullness in comparison with which the infinite differences in capacities, occupations, etc., are nothing. From this comes the stance which, if it does not degenerate into arrogance, is very worthy of respect.



There are men who, with their horrible officious way of poking their noses into everything, play a very comical role. I cannot think of a better illustration of such people than the one Baggesen provided in Jens Skovfoged (in Kalundborgskrøniken):

Here comes Jens Skovfogd so snoopy and snippy
Riding a horse so clippity clippity.


Hero legends are permeated by a very remarkable self-contradiction, an utterly naïve lie (which is why these stories are so easily parodied). I shall take only one example from the saga of Hervor and King Heidrek found in Rafn's Nordiske Kœmpehistorier, III. It is not simply forgetfulness of what was said previously which accounts for reporting practically every hero as the strongest etc., but something of a quite different kind. Thus on p. 8 it tells that Svafurlame gets Tyrfing from the trolls, a sword with the special characteristic that every time it was drawn it proved fatal to the one who drew it; he now proceeds to draw the sword, attacks the trolls, but he does not touch them and consequently should actually have killed himself. Farther along on page 8, where Angantyr is about to do battle with Hialmar, but Odd advises him to let him go instead, because he had a silk shirt with which no steel could make contact (consequently a sword that cuts everything — and on the other hand a shirt that cannot be cut up by any sword). [*]

[*] In margin: Similarly in Ørvarodd's Saga, in the third part of Kœmpehistorier, by Rafn, on p. 118, where he battles with Øgmund and says: I smote your arm, but it was not cut, although I have a sword which stops at nothing.

Another contradiction in all such tales is the conception of the way the warriors live; the stories dwell upon their great courage, passion for fighting, etc., and at the same time portray them most anxiously taking care to have not only good weapons but even enchanted weapons which would give an otherwise wretched warrior the advantage over the proudest warrior.[*]

[*] In margin: or a precious ointment which heals every wound.

At the same time, in the story about the battle it is overlooked that only one of the warriors had this auxiliary help, and it takes a terribly long time for the victory to be decided — yes, he is just barely victorious. — In this romantic life there is an irony still slumbering in and with its immediacy. — Also related to this is the splendid naïvetè in the story about the chain that bound the Fenris wolf; five things that are not to be found in this world are named, and it is said of them: thus they are not to be found in the world. — Thor, when he is fishing for the Midgaard serpent, thrusts his legs through the boat (no doubt physically impossible) and ends up standing on the bottom of the sea.


Many a poet should say with an old German poet:

O starker Gott! O gerechter Richter
Erbarm dich über mich armen Richter.

Altdeutsche Lieder by Görres, p. 159.)


Childhood is the paradigmatic part of life; adulthood its syntax.


I have read Andersen's novel Improvisatoren and find nothing in it, just one good observation. In saying good-bye at night, the Italian wishes: felicissima notte, and Andersen observes — "the Scandinavian wishes: 'Good night, sleep well'; the Italians wish: 'The most blissful night!' The southern nights have more than — dreams." (Pt. I, p. 102.) This makes me think of those simple-hearted watchmen who always appear in old German songs with their "Wach uff, wach uff," reminding lovers that day is dawning.


Generally speaking, it is almost impossible to read hero legends without smiling. One has only to picture how comical it would be to see a hero such as Holger the Dane "come running," a thoroughly trite expression, and sometimes it says that they run after each other a few miles — then Carl Magnus comes running and smites him etc. There is a curious naïvetè also in their not remembering what was said previously. Holger the Dane (see Rahbeck, pt. 2, p. 289) comes to Morgana, who sets a crown upon his head, whereupon he forgets everything but her and her love, and yet on page 292 it says that he meets King Artus and speaks with him about their exploits and then again farther on [p. 293] that he does not remember the past until Morgana removes the crown. An eccentric morality makes the heroes essentially immoral, and it is curious to see the confidence they place in the verdict of a duel as to who is right, and at the same time that they are not embarrassed over fighting for the one each of them favors, whether or not he is right. — The theological disputes they carry on during the battle are also extremely comical. — The narrator has so little dramatic vision that he has a Mohammedan say: O God, Mohammed and our other false gods (see p. 45 in Holger).[*]

[*]In margin: It is just about a bad a line as Papageno's in The Magic Flute: "I am a child of nature."

Incidentally, I have noted in my copy several things in the same vein. —

In margin: Nor does the narrator have a particular eye for placing the actual battle in proper relation to the enormous masses of troops we frequently hear mentioned — sometimes in the millions. As to the battle itself, we hear that Oliver, Roland, or someone like that came running and smote a king; but when one of the enemy saw it, he came running and attacked Roland, and Roland said: God help me, poor man that I am. Thereupon they win the battle and Roland alone slays 1,000. God knows how he found time to do it since the first engagement was so dangerous. —


Also comical is the long recitation of the countries someone has conquered, the warriors he has vanquished, since the quantitative magnitude has a spontaneous negative influence on the reader's impression of the person's quality.

Holberg has perceived this in an exceptional way. The more frequently something is said to be extraordinarily great, the less so it becomes. —


Presumably Holger the Dane was written originally in French, translated into Latin, and translated from Latin into Danish by Christen Pedersen; in any case Pedersen got the original from a Catholic country. Thus in speaking of Holger the Dane's wonderful last days, he says on page 252: The person who believes or disbelieves this does not sin thereby, for it is not found in the creed. — However on page 272 it reads: (obviously an observation made by Christen Pedersen, even though he says it as if the Chronicle reported it) Which however is not believable and ought not to be believed by us, for it is not to be found in Holy Scripture.


A Preface

Most people usually go about reading a book with a notion of how they themselves would have written it, how someone else has written or would have written, just as if a closely resembling form steps in when they are to see someone for the first time, and as a result very few people really know how the other person looks. Here begins the first possibility of not being able to read a book, which thereupon goes through innumerable nuances until on the highest level — misinterpretation — the two most opposite kinds of readers meet, the most stupid and the most brilliant, who share in common the inability to read a book — the first because of vacuity and the second because of a wealth of ideas. Therefore I have given this work a very ordinary title (it should be called "A Letter") in order to do my part in preventing what is frequently* a loss for the author and sometimes for the readers — misinterpretation.

*In margin: I say frequently, for it sometimes happens that through misinterpretation one finds good things in a wretched book.


Quite true! Everything I touch suffers the fate depicted in a poem (Knaben Wunderhorn):

Ein Jäger stiess wohl in sein Horn,
wohl in sein Horn,
Und Alles, was er bliest, das war


It is touching to go past the most ordinary of book stores and see Den Ærke Troldkarl Faust, etc., see the most profound [books] offered for sale to the most ordinary people.


The Wandering Jew [...].


O God, how easy it is to forget such intentions! Dethroned in my own inner being, I have once again returned to the world in order to prevail there for some time yet. But what good is it to win the whole world and lose one's own soul. Again today (May 8) I tried to forget myself, not in the boisterous tumult (that surrogate does not help) but by going out to Rørdam and by talking with Bolette and by getting (if possible) the devil of my wit to stay home, the angel with the flaming sword (as I have deserved) who places himself between me and every innocent girlish heart — since you overtook me, O God, thank you for not letting me immediately go mad — I have never been so fearful of it — thank you for once again inclining your ear to me.

May 8, 1837


Today the same episode again — but I got out to Rørdam — good God, why should the inclination begin to stir just now — how alone I feel — confound that proud satisfaction in standing alone — everyone will now hold me in contempt — but you, my God, do not let go of me — let me live and reform —


During this time I have read various things by A. v. Arnim, among others Armuth, Reichthum, Schuld und Busse der Grafinn Dolores, 2 volumes.

II, p. 21, where he speaks of her seducer. ...

May 16, 1837


They forget that profound observation about the cross: that the cross belongs in the realm of the stars.



This is the road Christianity has always traveled through the world — between two thieves (for this is what we all are) — except that one was penitent and said that he suffered the punishment he deserved.



Eine Parallele zur Religionsphilosophie, von Karl Rosenkranz (Bauer's Zeitschrift, II, 1, pp. 1-32)
He shows that if the different religions are reduced to the simplest terms, three positions can be laid down.

  1. der Mensche ist Gott
  2. Gott ist Gott
  3. Gott ist Mensch

The first, of course, is ethnicism; [p. 2] it does not posit unity as den sich vermittelude [that which mediates itself], but as immediate and spontaneous, and forgets where a vermittelude process has taken place, namely, in the conclusion. It is an assertive proposition. Thus in pagan religions the Zauberer [magicians] are themselves the power to which the elementary powers yield. [P. 3] In the Indian religion it is Brahma, or whoever rises by penitence to it, immediately one with God (therefore it is not necessary for his Erscheinung [manifestation] to be congruent with his essence — just like the Catholic clergy in another direction); in the Buddhist religion the Lama is God directly. [P. 5] In dualistic religions man is the intermediate being for realizing that process; the two powers need him for their completion. Here instead of quietism there is reciprocal action between the positive and the negative substance; from this comes 1) the heroic; (2) [P.6] the tragic (since action is the main thing, but death sets the boundary to it). With the Greeks it was the religion of art or the beautiful individual. [P.7] The heroic and the tragic come more to the front (Heracles) with the enlarged definition of individual freedom but thereafter switch over to the opposite. The hero, who in action makes himself God, has his opposite in the atheist, who by the dialectic of thought denies the gods; [p.8] the tragic in the comic, which absolutizes the idiosyncratic individuality (Aristophanes). The Romans [P.9] Hegel describes their religiousness as "Ernsthaftigkeit. The R. went mad [p.10] in the Roman emperor, who made himself God: Er hat nicht, wie der chinensische Keiser, seinem Willen eine bestimte Richtung zu geben; er lebt nicht, wie ein Lama, in einem monchischen Quietismus; er ist kein Held wie Rostem; er ist kein Künstler, der wie ein Phidias, Skopas Götterideale schafft und dadurch sich endlich als die Macht der Religion erfährt; durch den Titel, durch den Namen weiss er sich als die unbedingte Macht. Diese Apothecse ist die Carricatur der hellenischen Apotheose, die immer als Resultat erscheint.

[P.11] Monotheism. [P.12] appears historically in Judaism and Mohamedanism, and the more isolated Deism. Judaism develops in the first books, where God appears in his omnipotence as lawgiver, [p.13] (Moses stays completely in the background); then in Job the detached individuality appears in a kind of opposition to God, and [p.14] in the Psalms sets his mind at rest by [acknowledging] that God is God, the Almighty, against whom man must not strive. [P. 16] Mohammedanism develops a caricature; God's omnipotence becomes arbitrariness, and [p.17] his governance becomes fatalism. [P.19] Deism basically reverses the relationship, for while monotheism as such presupposes that God is God and therefore man is man, it presupposes that man is man and therefore God is God (as a necessary accessory to realizing man's deserved bliss).

[Pp.21 f.] Christianity. Paganism was poetic, monotheism prosaic; the former eventuated in madness; only by means of numerous separate, limited individualities could a unity in essence emerge, but where the primordial forces are not tamed by individual limitation, there is the imperfect, and the ugly and the unnatural emerge. The Vitae Imperatorum of Suetonius gives examples of it. Hegel: "Sich so als den Inbegriff aller wirklichen Mächte wissend, ist dieser Herr der Welt das ungeheure Selbstbewusstsein, das sich als den wirklichen Gott weiss, indem er aber nur das formale Selbst ist, das sie nicht zu bändigen vermag, ist seine Bewegung und Selbstgenuss die eben so ungeheure Ausschweifung." [Pp. 23 f.] Christianity is the negative identity of the two separate and traceable-only-to-each-other positions in monotheism, but is also the abrogation of paganism's immediate assertive position. Monotheism's position is categorical. Paganism's position is problematic, and monotheism's hypothetical. Christianity's position is apodictic, since it contains the disjunction of the divine and the human in concrete unity. Weil Gott an sich Mensch ist so wird er es auch. [P. 25] It is not like the incarnations in Indian pantheism, all of whom have the marks of accidental character in both form and intention. [P. 26] But neither is it a human becoming as if God needed man in order to achieve consciousness. [Pp. 30 f.] Therefore Christianity contains the most glorious life-view. The tragic element for the religion of art was der Schmerz des unbegriffenen Todes, der den Genuss der schönen Heiterkeit zwar nicht negirte, wie in Ægyten, aber unangenem störte. Das Traurige im Monotheismus war die Last des Gesetzes, welches der Mensch zwar als das des heiligen Gottes, aber nicht als sein eignes anerkannte. Selbst die Autonomie der theoretischen und Autokratie der praktischen Vernunft im Deismus ist nur eine secondäre.

June 8, 1837


When God had created the whole world, he looked at it and said — behold, it was very good; when Christ died upon the cross, he said — "It is finished."

June 9, 1837


It is certainly true, as Daub says (Bauer's Tidsskrift), that the whole story of Christ's life is contained in three statements: Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house? I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes when no one can work. It is finished. But one should not forget three others: And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom (Luke 2:40). He is tempted. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

June 12, 1837


The phrase   αποκαραδοκìα   της   κτìσεως,   in Romans 8:19 tallies with some poetic glimmerings in the legends, for example, about mermaids, who are redeemed by human love, about gnomes etc. (F. de la Motte Fouquè, Hoffmann, Ingemann, who reproduced the old legends, the other side of which is that these spirits are able to plunge men into destruction.)

June 26, 1837


I cannot help being amazed that Justinus Kerner (in his Dichtungen) is able to interpret so conciliatingly the phenomenon which has always shocked me since my very first experience of it — that someone says just exactly what I say. To me the phenomenon seemed to be the most confusing, almost Punch-and-Judy, disorder: the one would begin a sentence which the other would finish, and no one could be sure who was speaking.

July 11, 1837

In margin:
Justinus Kerner has interested me so much just now because, although he is far more gifted, I see in him the same artistic barrenness I see in myself. But I also see how something can be done even though essential continuity is lacking and can be fulfilled only by continuity of mood, of which every single little idea is a blossom, a kind of novelistic aphorism, a plastic study. While his own Dichtungen are full of excellent imaginative ideas, his reports aus dem Nachtgebiete der Natur are so dry that we could almost take that to be indirect proof of their truth.

July 13, 1837


[*] I have often wondered how it could be that I have had such great reluctance to write down particular observations;

[*]In margin: Resolution of July 13, 1837, made in our study at six o'clock in the evening.

but the more I come to know individual great men in whose writings one does not detect in any way a kaleidoscopic hustling together of a certain batch of ideas (perhaps Jean Paul by his example has given me premature uneasiness in this respect) and the more I recall that such a refreshing writer as Hoffmann has kept a journal and that Lichtenberg recommends it, the more I am prompted to find out just why this, which is in itself innocent, should be unpleasant, almost repulsive, to me. Obviously the reason was that in each instance I thought of the possibility of publication, which perhaps would have required more extensive development, something with which I did not wish to be bothered, and enervated by such an abstract possibility (a kind of literary hiccoughing and squeamishness), the aroma of fancies and mood evaporated.[+]

[+]In margin: And therefore the entries I have are either so completely cryptic that I no longer understand them or are entirely occasional, and I can also see why usually many entries are from one and the same day, which suggests a sort of day of reckoning, but this is crazy.

The apparent wealth of fancies and ideas which one feels in abstract possibility is just as unpleasant and it brings on uneasiness similar to that which a cow suffers when it is not milked at the proper time. Therefore one's best method, if external conditions are of no help, is, like the cow, to milk oneself.

I think, instead, that it would be good, through frequent note-writing, to let the thoughts come forth with the umbilical cord of the original mood, and to forget as much as possible all regard for their possible use, which would not happen in any case by referring to my journals; rather, by expectorating myself as in a letter to an intimate friend, I gain the possibility of self-knowledge and, in addition, fluency in writing, the same articulateness in written expression which I have to some extent in speaking, the knowledge of many little traits to which I have given no more than a quick glance[++], and finally, the advantage, if what Hamann says is true in another sense, that there are ideas which a man gets only once in his life. Such practice backstage is certainly necessary for every person who is not so gifted that his development is in some way public.

[++]In margin:
Something like this is also to be found in scholarship. There are men who read only the most important works on the most important developments, and therefore they do know a little about the scholarly King's Highway but absolutely nothing about the lanes and by-ways and their unsung glories and vistas; somewhat like Englishmen they take the transcontinental highway, but this is also the reason that their knowledge is so compendious.
August 26, 1837
Those abbreviated men!
November 4, 1837


What a wonderful expression Lichtenberg proposes, "the simple phrase, 'graduate student prose', to describe the writing pattern of those who write in a fatuous popular style ordinary everyday thoughts which at best express what sensible people have already thought."


Everyone sees material for parody in small-town life, but no one sees that the capital city is a parody of a world-historical metropolis; people do talk together, and yet the one immediately reprints in cramped duodecimo letters the other's uncial letters; the world's tragedies are simultaneously produced in the largest theaters and in vaudeville houses, scene for scene and with identical words.

July 14, 1837


The bourgeois always skip over one part of life, and from this comes their parodying relationship to those who outrank them. [.....]*

* [Omission by editor Barfod in Efterladte Papirer, the only extant copy of this entry.]

To them morality is supreme, far more important than intelligence, but they have never felt enthusiasm for the great, for the talented, even in its extraordinary form. Their morality is a brief summary of the various police posters; the most important thing for them is to be a useful member of the state and to make after-dinner talk at a club — they have never felt homesickness for an unknown, remote something or for the profundity which is rooted in being nothing at all, in walking through Nørreport with four pennies in one's pocket and a slender cane in one's hand; they have no idea of the view of life (which a gnostic sect made its own): learn to know the world through sin — and yet they too say one must sow his wild oats ("Wer niemals hat ein Rausch gehabt, er ist kein braver Mann"), they have never caught a glimpse of the idea which lies underneath when we are pushed through the hidden, mysterious door, open in all its terror only to presentiment, into this dark realm of sighs — when we see the crushed sacrifices of seduction and deception and the coldness of the tempter.

In margin:

People reproach others for fearing God too much. Entirely correct, for rightly to love God presupposes having feared God. The bourgeois' love of God commences when the vegetative life is in full swing, when the hands are comfortably folded over the stomach, when the head is reclining on a soft easy char, and when a drowsy glance is raised toward the ceiling, toward higher things. Compare the pantheistic "May it do us good" [Velbekom's (Velbekomme os)].

Also in margin:

"One should love his neighbor as himself," say the bourgeois, and by this they mean the well-brought-up children and now useful members of the state — those who have great susceptibility to every transient emotional flu — for one thing they mean that when someone is asked for a pair of scissors, even though he is some distance away, he will say "Righto!" and get up "with great pleasure" in order to fetch them, and for another that one will remember to pay the proper visits of condolence. But they have never felt what it means to have the whole world give them the cold shoulder, for the whole pack of social herring in which they live naturally does not permit such a relationship to occur; and then when serious help is needed, good common sense tells them that anyone who is in great need of them and in all probability will never be in a position to help them in return — he is not their* neighbor.

July 19, 1837

* Addition to above:
After all, one has no neighbor, for the I is simultaneously itself and its neighbor, as illustrated by the expression, "One is closest to himself" (that is, one is his own neighbor).

October 7, 1837


I have also united the tragic with the comic: I crack jokes and people laugh — I cry.

July 14, 1837


People rant so much against anthropomorphism and forget that Christ's birth is the greatest and the most significant anthropomorphism.

July 15, 1837


Excerpt from Wilhelm Lund's review of Hauck's book in Maanedsskrift for Litteratur

Table of Wilhelm Lund's review


There are men of whom it cannot be denied that they are human beings (belong within the concept human being), but who are more or less defective casibus.

September 13, 1837


Unfortunately my real spirit frequently is present in me only κατà   κρυψιν.

September 20, 1837


Now I know a suitable subject for a dissertation: concerning the concept of satire among the ancients, the reciprocal relation of the various Roman satirists to each other.

September 25, 1837


Holberg's E. Montanus remains a comedy (although in so many other respects it is a tragedy), because in the end madness wins by laying a punishment upon E. and forcing him to knowledge of the truth by a means (beating him) that is even more demented than the madness of all the others.

September 27, 1837


Unfortunately my life is far too subjunctive; would to God I had some indicative power.

October 7, 1837


Earlier I said that Don Juan is musically immediate and thereby indicates the character's infinite immanence in the music, that the actions, character, and text stand in necessary relationship to each other as in no other opera; and I maintained that in Lenau's Faust Mephisto begins to play (the musical) when the subordinate sensuous life begins in order to show that the genius of sensuous life is musical — now I find this supported in noting that the demonic in folktales is essentially musical (not only in the dance, which is so light that they dance upon the water and hardly leave a trace on the dewy grass, for what is the dance without music; but what more musical dance can be conceived than one so immaterial that the dance is, so to speak, music, the dance of music, that the dance is the musically sonorous figure, the music visualized, the music captured in a visible medium). Music and dance are the business of nisses, elf-maidens, dwarfs, etc....

October 11, 1837


If the Romans were egotists in their highly developed use of the pronomen reflexionum and the conspicuousness with which they knew how to refer this pronomen to the principal idea, then I believe Grundtvig is right.

October 24, 1837


All other religions are oblique; the founder steps aside and introduces another who speaks; therefore, they themselves belong under the religion — Christianity alone is direct address (I am the truth).

October 29, 1837


The reason I prefer autumn to spring is that in the spring one looks at the earth — in the autumn at heaven.

October 29, 1837


There is really something nonsensical about writing for the times and the gratification of the times; that is not the way it goes. It begins with one or more, in proportion to the greatness of the idea, going mad (I am convinced that there were Copernicians in all the insane asylums before Copernicus) — then comes a great mind who comprehends the idea but is not understood by the contemporary age. Then all at once it magically appears in various people and ends as sheer triviality. — We are not living in that beautiful age in which Minerva springs out of Jupiter's head — here she burst the head of her original father and then wanders irresolutely around until she finally ends in an asylum.

November 4, 1837


Presentiment is the homesickness of earthly life for the higher, for the perspicuity which man must have had in his paradisic life.

November 6, 1837


Even though in an inverted way, a true token of the true Christ would nevertheless be the same as of the true Eve: this is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.

November 23, 1837


See how Erdmann develops religious irony in "Wissen und Glauben", lecture ten, where irony in one respect is construed quite properly and where he, for example, has correctly perceived the difference between it and unbelief, which is simply what it is and is open to any influence.

November 9, 1837


I would like to write a novel in which there would be a man who every day walked past the plasterer on Østergade, took off his hat, and stood in silence, and then said as he had done regularly every day: O you wonderful Greek nature, why was I not allowed to live under your heaven in the days of your prime.

11:30   December 7, 1837


I think that if I ever do become an earnest Christian my deepest shame will be that I did not become one before, that I had to try everything else first.

December 8, 1837


I would like to write a novel in which the main character would be a man who had gotten a pair of glasses, one lens of which reduced images as powerfully as an oxyhydrogen microscope and the other magnified on the same scale, so that he perceived everything very relatively.

December 10, 1837


I am utterly dismayed upon reading the essay with which Fichte begins his journal. When we see a man with his abilities arm himself for battle with such earnestness, such "fear and trembling" (Philippians), what is there for the rest of us to say? I think I will give up my studies, and now I know what I will be — I will become a witness in the office of a notary public.

December 12, 1837


Once in a while, just after I have gone to bed and am ready to fall asleep, a rooster crows at midnight; it is unbelievable how much that can stimulate the imagination. I remember how just last night there poured in upon me vivid childhood recollections of Fredriksborg, where the crowing of the rooster announced a happy new day, how I had it all again: the chill morning air, the dew on the grass which kept us from frolicking about as we wished.

December 16, 1837


Addition to previous:
And I was mistaken, for it was not the morning-crowing, but the midnight-crowing.

April 4, 1838


Why does the reading of fairy tales provide such fortifying relaxation for the soul? When I am weary of everything and "full of days," fairy tales are always a refreshing, renewing bath for me. There all earthly, finite cares vanish; joy, yes, even sorrow, are infinite (and for this reason are so enlarging and beneficial). One sets out to find the blue bird, just like the Crown Princess who lets someone else take care of the kingdom while she goes to look for her unhappy lover. What infinite sorrow is implied in her wandering about dressed as a peasant girl and saying to the old woman she meets: "Ich bin nicht allein, meine gute mutter; ich habe ein grosses Gefolge bei mir von Kummer, Sorgen, und Leiden." One completely forgets the particular private sorrows which every man can have, in order to plunge into the deep-seated sorrow common to all, and is easily tempted to wish that he could meet an old woman to whom he could say, "Meine gute Mutter" — or a young girl roaming the world in search of her lover, in order to join her pilgrimage. — Or what strong and eternal friendship is implied in the same story by the Wizard, the guard and protector of "Huldreich", who goes around the world eight times and then, according to custom, first blows a long blast on the trumpet and thereupon shouts five times with all his might, "O Huldreich, König Huldreich! Wo bist du?" — Or the story of the king and queen who had but one daughter — there was no question of finances, etc. etc. They do not summon parliament — no, they call together all the nursemaids.

11:30   December 26, 1837


Nulla dies sine linea



Such a long period has again elapsed in which I have been unable to concentrate on the least little thing — now I must make another attempt.

Paul Møller is dead.
April, 1838


This morning I saw a half dozen wild geese fly away in the crisp cool air; they were right overhead at first and then farther and farther away, and at last they separated into two flocks, like two eyebrows over my eyes, which now gazed into the land of poetry.


I saw with little Carl on my lap and talked about how much I really liked the old sofa in the new apartment into which I was moving. He said that he also liked it very much. When I asked him why, he of course could not answer. But is it not curious that I muse with a strange sadness on reminders from a time I have never experienced, and now again I see him going in the same direction.


I went over to hear Nielsen give a reading of "Glœde over Denmark" and was strangely moved by the words:

Remember the traveler far away.

Yes, now he has gone far away — but I at least will surely remember him.

April 2, 1838


It is remarkable that Justin Martyr, who was in such sharp contrast to the paganism which conditioned the brief historical development of Christianity, nevertheless does not conceive of the world nearly so polemically as does the newer orthodoxy.



With me everything is "wandering": wandering thoughts — wandering rheumatism.


There is an indescribable joy that glows all through us just as inexplicably as the apostle's exclamation breaks forth for no apparent reason: "Rejoice, and again I say, Rejoice." — Not a joy over this or that, but the soul's full outcry "with tongue and mouth and from the bottom of the heart": "I rejoice for my joy, by, in, with about, over, for, and with my joy" — a heavenly refrain which, as it were, suddenly interrupts our other singing, a joy which cools and refreshes like a breath of air, a breeze from the trade winds which blow across the plains of Mamre to the everlasting mansions.

May 19, 1838


When God had created the world.....

June 4, 1838


How I thank you, Father in heaven, for having kept an earthly father present for a time here on earth, where I so greatly need him: with your help I hope that he will have greater joy in being my father the second time than he had the first time.

July 9, 1838


I am going to work toward a far more inward relation to Christianity, for up until now I have in a way been standing completely outside of it while fighting for its truth; like Simon of Cyrene (Luke 23:26), I have carried Christ's cross in a purely external way.

July 9, 1838


I hope that my contentment with my life here at home will turn out to be like that of a man I once read about. He, too, was fed up with home and wanted to ride away from it. When he had gone a little way, his horse stumbled and he fell off, and as he got up on his feet he happened to see his home, which now looked so beautiful to him that he promptly mounted his horse, rode home, and stayed home. It depends on getting the right perspective.

July 10, 1838


It would make excellent tragic material: the young man who, persecuted by Marcus Aurelius, inspired by the courage of Polycarp and men like him in the hour of their death, also wanted to be a martyr, but when confronted by horrible torture became afraid and cursed Christ as the pagans demanded. — From this one sees that it is the same in Christianity as it is in earthly life: one must first grow before God and men, and even though in our time we are not exposed to such great temptations which in a horrible way destroy everything, nevertheless embryonic theologians, for example, ought to take care that, by beginning to preach too early, they do not talk themselves into rather than identify themselves with Christianity and take the consequences.

July 11, 1838


How the world does retrogress! In the oldest Christian times they "who staunchly confessed Christianity at the risk of losing possessions and life" were called "confessors" (confessores). Nowadays we learn in every geography book that this or that country has so and so many confessing Christians.

July 11, 1838


When I stand and look far out over Røyen's old place into Hestehaven, and the thick forest condenses in the background, accentuating the darkness and mystery in its depths even more by the crowns that top single isolated trunks — then I seem to see myself very vividly as a little boy running along in my green jacket and gray pants — but unfortunately I have grown older and cannot fetch myself. Contemplating childhood is like contemplating a beautiful region as one rides backwards; one really becomes aware of the beauty at that moment, that very instant, when it begins to vanish, and all I have left from that happy time is to cry like a child.

Fredricksborg, July 30, 1838

It could be interesting to trace Chiliasm through its historical modifications right up to the present, at which time it is obviously beginning to be heard again somewhat, for example, in the younger Fichte et al. It could be a contrast to Baur's Gnosticism, together with which doctrine it would provide the way to the true Christian-dogmatic categories. (A factor here could, for example, be the doctrine of Holy Communion, Luther's interpretation, etc.) (Of course, the specifically Jewish element in the doctrine must be eliminated first.)

August 2, 1838


In margin of previous:

I think there is a work called Corrodi, Geschichte der Chiliasmus, in three volumes. See Münscher's Kirkehistorie, p. 353, note 23.


My father died on Wednesday (the 8th) at 2:00 A.M.. I so deeply desired that he might have lived a few years more, and I regard his death as the last sacrifice of his love for me, because in dying he did not depart from me but he died for me, in order that something, if possible, might still come of me. Most precious of all that I have inherited from him is his memory, his transfigured image, transfigured not by his poetic imagination (for it does not need that), but transfigured by many little single episodes I am now learning about, and this memory I will try to keep most secret from the world. Right now I feel there is only one person (E. Boesen) with whom I can really talk about him. He was a "faithful friend."

August 11, 1838


In our Christian times Christianity is on the way to becoming paganism — at least the big cities have long since given it up.

August 11, 1838


Christianity's universal character is discernible also in this — that with Christianity all national distinctions cease as transcended elements. The only distinction which might seem to remain is that between the Orient and the Occident, although this is on a far greater scale and is based essentially on contrasts of dogma as such, whereas the other distinctions were only secondary and were based on national contrasts. The remaining contrasts (Catholic — Protestant, etc.) are often within national similarities and simply are based upon the objective qualifications of the idea.

August 21, 1838


The Greek perfection of development in earthly development, the ascent of the infinite in the finite, recurs also in oriental Christianity in that the Greek cross,* limits, as it were, the heavenly striving; whereas the Roman cross, , strives into the infinite.

* In margin of previous: Heaven is closed, as it were, to those whose striving has limits.
August 22, 1838


There are these two elements in the Christian life which need to be united: (a) an unshakable sureness, an unshakable certainty about one's relationship to God, about God's mercy and love, which, however, must not be conceived abstractly, whereby through a long line of modifications one finally is led almost to sin in order to be certain of one's salvation; and (b) an empirical development, which, however, must not lose itself in disparate parts, lest the individual be tossed about on stormy seas — (cast them into the desert, as it says in the Augsburg Confession).

August 23, 1838


There is a curious continuity running through the series of names used to describe the first four centuries: apostolicum, gnosticum, novatianum, arianum. The Church ends, as it were, with the first century, since its history after that is designated by the names of heretics.

August 28, 1838


One of the exclamations in which the humanity of Christ appears most forcefully is his remark to Judas: What you are going to do, do quickly; and the opposite is just as forceful, for in his foreknowledge he knew that Judas would betray him (which is specifically noted above); but this human uneasiness, this wavering when the decisive moment was approaching, nevertheless also had its place, and it will be a consolation to many when they remember this in their hour of need.

September 11, 1838


sub rosa

to S. S. Blicher
          On the occasion of his nature concert
Wenn ich ein Vögelein wär,
Und auch zwei Flülein hätt,
Flög ich su Dir;
Weils aber nicht kann sein,
Bleib ich allhier.
September 11, 1838


The profundity of Christianity is that Christ is both our redeemer and our judge, not that one is our redeemer and another is our judge, for then we certainly come under judgment, but that the redeemer and the judge are one and the same.

September 12, 1838


The use of the Latin language to worship within Christianity until now is analogous to the Jews' not daring to pronounce the name of God. There was advance to the point where the clergy could pronounce God's name, but the congregation is not able to do so.

September 29, 1838


An author's works should bear the imprint of his likeness, his individuality, as did the portrait Christ is supposed to have sent to King Abgarus of Edessa; it was not an artistically elaborated painting but a kind of inexplicable, miraculous emanation on canvas.

October 6, 1838


After the ancient world's greatest tyrant, Dionysius, the new world's greatest ditto inherited the ear — with which he heard secret confession (just as Dionysius heard even the faintest sound in his notorious prison).

October 11, 1838


Here again one can discern a difference between the Orient and the Occident. Both have had a print of Christ conveyed in an incomprehensible, mysteriously human way: the Orient in the famous portrait of Christ to King Abgarus, the Occident in the five wounds of Christ on the body of St. Francis.

October 13, 1838


The union of Law and Gospel is found in the beautiful prayer:

Infinite Wisdom, you dwell not only in the high and holy* place but also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, in order to make** the contrite and humble spirit alive in Christ Jesus our Lord.***

In margin: * Law; ** Gospel; *** See Romans 1:16;  p; δùναµις   γáρ   θεου   εστιν.
October 15, 1838


Christ also feeds people with five loaves and three fish as far as his teaching is concerned, if one notes how the most insignificant external events give him occasion for the most profound interpretation — how far this is from elaborate preparations, from all pretentious apparatus!

October 30, 1838


It might seem strange that the New Testament ends with a prophecy (Revelation). Could this be a repetition of Judaism so that Christianity, too, finally points beyond itself? Not at all. Rather, it is like a mirror which casts the rays back again into the center of the Christian life; therefore it does not draw attention to something other-worldly but illuminates all the more brightly everything this-worldly. Therefore it is called "a revelation", not a forecast which is obscure until its fulfillment; it is the breath of the Christian life which is exhaled in the rest of the New Testament and now, so to speak, is inhaled again in the book of Revelation.

November 1, 1838


We are tempted in the desert!

(Sermon on the temptation story)

There may come a moment before the hour when no help is to be found on earth, a moment in which you feel yourself alone, when you are tempted in the desert, so that even if you cried to the whole earth, no voice would answer you that would be able to console you — except for the voice of the Omnipresent One, which the Old Testament has portrayed so terrifyingly:   If I take the wings of the morning...... Thou art there* — the voice that precisely to the Christian is so consoling.

* In margin: Later this is repeated in Christ's life when he is tempted in solitude, when the apostles are sleeping. It is the same for us in the moment when it seems as if all those to whom we could turn sleep securely and soundly, unavailable to us in our need — then a higher consolation needs to be found.
November 11, 1838



Lord, be near to us with your power, so that we may feel the heart's glad assurance that You are not far away from us, but that we live, move, and have our being in You!


There are times in the spiritual life when the adjective "matchless" acquires, contrary to the intention of the persons using it, the same meaning conveyed if one were to praise a glove or a stocking by saying that it was matchless.

November 22, 1838


In his lecture today Sibbern made a very good observation about how one must assume a real ideal being [egl. ideel Væren], which in itself has being before its expression in actual being [actuelle Væren], something one can discern in the fact that in speaking of eternal truths one would not say that they now come to be but that they are now revealed, i.e., in the fullness of time.

December 17, 1838


Paul is the spiritus asper of the Christian life; John its spiritus lenis.

December 22, 1838


So much in the novel depends essentially on the total effect produced by the detailed manifoldness of the presentation, because here also it holds true that: What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.

11 o'clock, evening, Christmas Day, 1838


The Lord comes, even though we must wait for him; he comes, even though we become as old as Anna, as gray as Simeon (this Noah the second); but we must wait for him in his house.

December 31, 1838


The same miracle which amazed the contemporaries at the wedding in Cana repeats itself in the life of every Christian: you have served the poor wine first and then the good wine — particularly anyone who has experienced how the world serves first the good wine and then the poor will agree with this.

January 1, 1839


At just this moment I feel the dreadful truth in the words:

Psalm 82:6: "I say, 'You are Gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like men and fall like a tyrant.' "

January 3, 1839


The trouble with me is that my life, my state of mind, always follows two declensions, in which not only the suffixes become different but the whole word is changed.


Do you think that just as the Jews brought Jehovah a tenth of the fruits of the earth and of the flocks you are to bring him only one-tenth of your heart, or that just as the Jews labored six days out of the week and rested on the seventh, you are to think about the world and its activities six days but about God on the seventh? No, the Christian's tenth and the Christian's sacrifice is his whole heart, and the Christian's holy day is the whole of his life. And if you bring God a tenth, watch out lest God open his window, as the prophet says, and look down and see you.

January 17, 1839


The first impression one gets of Christianity is salutary and powerful enough immediately to transform* our whole mind, so much so that it is no wonder that along with the disciples we wish to remain on the mountain and pitch our tents there (see Matthew 9:5, etc.); but, like the disciples, we have to descend from the mountain, and down below there frequently awaits us as difficult a testing as the demonic was for the disciples (see Mark 9:11, etc.).

* In margin: See Luke 9:29.
January 18, 1839


..... only when the heart's anxious or arrogant hypocrisy is dislodged does the word ring for us, just as Christ did not speak his word to his disciples from the fullness of his heart until the Pharisees were silenced and had departed.

January 27, 1839


1 8 3 9
ad se ipsum


[Quotation from Chateaubriand.]


There must have been many who had a relationship to Jesus similar to that of Barrabas (his name was Jesus Barrabas). The Danish "Barrabas" is about the same as "N.N." [Mr. X or John Doe], , filius patris, his father's son. — It is too bad, however, that we do not know anything more about Barrabas; it seems to me that in many ways he could have become a counterpart to the Wandering Jew. The rest of his life must have taken a singular turn. God knows whether or not he became a Christian. — It would be a poetic motif to have him, gripped by Christ's divine power, step forward and witness for him.

February 1, 1839


You, sovereign queen of my heart, "Regina, hidden in the deepest secrecy of my breast, in the fullness of my life-idea, there where it is just as far to heaven as to hell — unknown divinity! O, can I really believe the poets when they say that the first time one sees the beloved object he thinks he has seen her long before, that love like all knowledge is recollection, that love in the single individual also has its prophecies, its types, its myths, its Old Testament. Everywhere, in the face of every girl, I see features of your beauty, but I think I would have to possess the beauty of all the girls in the world to extract your beauty, that I would have to sail around the world to find the portion of the world I want and toward which the deepest secret of my self polarically points — and in the next moment you are so close to me, so present, so overwhelmingly filling my spirit that I am transfigured to myself and feel that here it is good to be.

You blind god of erotic love! You who see in secret, will you disclose it to me? Will I find what I am seeking here in this world, will I experience the conclusion of all my life's eccentric premises, will I fold you in my arms, or:

Do the Orders say: March on?

Have you gone on ahead, you, my longing, transfigured do you beckon to me from another world? O, I will throw everything away in order to become light enough to follow you.

February 2, 1839


All poetry is a glorification (i.e., transfiguration) [Forklarelse: transfiguration] of life by way of its clarification [Forklarelse] (in that it is explained, illuminated, developed, etc.). It is truly remarkable that language has this ambiguous ambiguity.

February 5, 1839


The profoundly penetrating significance of original sin is shown in the fact that all Christianity in the single individual begins with grief — godly grief.

February 10, 1839


What is said about the Messiah is true of every idea: it is

(Hebrews 7:3).

[Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; (but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.) — KJ]


A sorrow just as deep and holy, just as inward and quietly holy as the esthetic sorrow with which Lavater* [* see Lavater's Physiognomonik.] writes of the defilement by which mankind has distorted the image of God in the countenance, the sonorous expression of the soul, insofar as the image of God shows itself in the face — such a religious-moral sorrow would be the proper grace of Christian sorrow insofar as it comprehends the enormity and profundity of the fall of the human race without falling itself within the qualifications of corruption.

February 11, 1837


Philo says somewhere:

February 11, 1839


..... Christianity has a battle greater than any conflict ever fought in the world, for Christianity battles with the world. But if you have seen an army inspired in the moment of attack by the commander's speech, how much more should the Christian be inflamed by his battle-cry: If God is for us, who can be against us — a battle-cry which in truth contains not only an unmistakable note of differentiation from the enemy but a gospel for every warrior. Or shouldn't the Christian be encouraged to fight under a commander who himself had overcome the enemy, to fight a battle in which victory is certain, the reward an eternity. — Christianity has also its peace, a peace which has overcome the world — and Christianity has also its joy, a joy which does not hide at the bottom of a bitter cup and which only shows itself more clearly in proportion as the cup becomes more bitter.

February 11, 1839


That thought and being [Væren] are one can be seen in people who suffer under a fixed idea — and here is also proof of the eternity of damnation, since man's more perfect existence must be understood as being free from all distractions, everything momentary and temporal which prevents our feeling the identity of thought and being, not to mention that what is implied by sexual differentiation and the whole historical development which has its point of departure therein must be considered absent, inasmuch as we are to become as angels (neither marry nor be given in marriage); but the Church Fathers teach that the angels' fall is irrevocable, because it occurred in the form of the "true time."

February 12, 1839


The most fulfilled prophecy there has ever been was Christ's when he said: It is good for you that I go away, since this was the moment when Christ's earthly existence [Tilværelse] had reached its maturity, when his body was dried up like fruit when its time is past, when the whole fullness of divinity could no longer be contained in earthly form as individual existence [Existents].

March 13, 1839


I am strangely alarmed when I note the extreme melancholy with which Englishmen of an earlier generation have spotted the ambiguity basic to laughter, as Dr. Hartley has observed:* What if laughter were completely misunderstood, what if the world were so bad and existence so unhappy that laughter really is weeping? What if it were a misunderstanding — a misunderstanding caused by a compassionate genius or a mocking demon — ?

* "Dass wen sich das Lachen zuerst bey Kindern zeiget, so ist es ein entstehendes weinen, welches durch Schmerz erregt wird, oder ein plötzlich gehemmtes und in sehr kurzen Zwischenraumen widerholtes Gefühl des Schmerzens." (See Geschichte der komischen Literatur, by Flögel, I, P. 50.)
February 21, 1839


Christianity (in comparison with Judaism) involves a much greater cleavage with the world, just as the words of Christ to his apostles ("Whoever does not hate his father and mother for my sake is not worthy of me") are more profound than the words which were spoken to man in the beginning ("He shall forsake his father and mother"), and as a result the union is all the more inward. See p. 27 [i.e., II A 469-70].

February 25, 1839


The sad thing about me is that my whole life is an interjection and has nothing nailed down (everything is movable — nothing immovable, no real property) — my sorrow is a despairing wail — my joy an overly lyrical tra-la-la.

March 13, 1839


The lyric poetry of our time is different from that of the Middle Ages in that now the idiosyncratic individual gyrates about in his own idiosyncrasy, and therefore the lyrics of one are unintelligible to another. In the Middle Ages, however, lyric poetry was equipped with a complete objectivity — it is not the individual, it is man (Adam, i.e., mankind); every feature is world-historical, this term taken in the ideal sense.

March 15, 1839



The other day I heard a conversation between some farm girls and farm lads. One of the fellows, the kind commonly called a ladies' man, asked a very beautiful girl with a strong mark of mysteriousness about her, which Goethe discusses in his römische Elegien: Do you have a sweetheart? — to which she replied. No. Whereupon he answered: "Well, then, you are also a bad girl."

March 23, 1839


In the Passion story there comes a point which indicates not only that the law has been fulfilled but that there is something more, for when Christ had drunk the vinegar which was offered to him, he said: It is finished, that is, now the law is fulfilled, but these were not Christ's last words — he also prayed for his enemies, and this is of the gospel.

March 28, 1839


I do have one advantage over most other authors in that my ideas are always made out in someone's name and are not payable to the bearer; they are made out in someone's name even though I remain anonymous.

April 3, 1839


The higher criticism

See Hebrews 4:12,

[ For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. — KJ]
April 23, 1839


Christ is the true magister matheseos.

Hebrews 5:8.
[ Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered — KJ]
April 23, 1839


Categories are the shewbread of our modern age — digestible only by the clergy.

April 25, 1839


And I who by nature am a quiescent-letter [Hvile-Bogstav] have not yet found something in which I can rest [hvile]; if only I might soon find it so that I could really become full-toned.


The 7th Defense of Anonymity

Most authors write with so little individuality that almost anyone in the kingdom could be the author of what is written, and since the name becomes a very trivial accessory, one perceives that anonymity has significance also in a poetic sense; on the other hand, authors who have individuality have no need of appending their names.

May 6, 1839


Most of what is written is nothing more than asserta on plain paper — I, however, write on a stamped paper.


Cornelius Nepos tells of a general who was kept confined in a fortress with a considerable cavalry regiment; to keep the horses from getting sick because of too much inactivity, he had them whipped daily to put them in motion — in like manner I live in my room as one besieged — I prefer to see no one, and every moment I fear that the enemy will try an assault — that is, someone will come and visit me. I would rather not go out, but lest I be harmed by this sedentary life — I cry myself tired.

May 10, 1839


I am so unhappy at present that in my dreams I am indescribably happy.


When I open my eyes these days they lift a great load of weights (launch a mass of "flies") which promptly settle down again; so too it is with my hope, for the door through which it is granted me at times to look into brighter regions (my daily environment and atmosphere are like the view and climate in a Greenland cave, and for that reason I receive very few visits in this my winter residence, since only missionaries have the courage to creep on all fours into such a cave — hope, the missionary of heaven — rarely sends out a gleam) is not a door that stays open once it is opened, nor is it a door that shuts again slowly so that one still might have the hope of peeking through it a few more times before it shuts, no, it shuts promptly again, and the dreadful thing about it is that one almost forgets what he saw.

May 11, 1839


Just as Christ's entrance into the world of the spirit is what creation is in the physical world — so also the Holy Spirit is the sustenance in the world of the spirit, i.e., the concept of sustenance.

May 12, 1839


All existence [Tilvœrelsen] makes me anxious, from the smallest fly to the mysteries of the Incarnation; the whole thing is inexplicable to me, I myself most of all; to me all existence is infected, I myself most of all. My distress is enormous, boundless; no one knows it except God in heaven, and he will not console me; no one can console me except God in heaven, and he will not take compassion on me. — Young man, you who still stand at the beginning of your goal, if you have gone astray, turn back to God, and from his upbringing you will take along with you a youthfulness strengthened for manly tasks. You will never know the suffering of one who, having wasted the courage and energy of youth in insubordination against him, must begin to retreat, weak and exhausted, through devastated countries and ravaged provinces, everywhere surrounded by the abomination of desolation, by burned-out cities and the smoking ruins of frustrated hopes, by trampled prosperity and toppled success — a retreat as slow as a bad year, as long as eternity, monotonously broken by the daily repeated sigh: These days — I find no satisfaction in them.

May 12, 1839


I say of my sorrow what the Englishman says of his house: My sorrow is my castle. — But there are many men who, when they have occasion for sorrow (wear crepe around the hat), ask for sympathy not so much to alleviate the sorrow as to be petted and pampered a bit, and thus basically look upon having sorrow as one of life's conveniences.

May 12, 1839


I have no alternative than to suppose that it is God's will that I prepare for my examination and that it is more pleasing to him that I do this than actually coming to some clearer perception by immersing myself in one or another sort of research, for obedience is more precious to him than the fat of rams.

May 13, 1839


What is expression (style) other than an external birthmark? — and those people who arrive at a result which is not their own are like hens who have hatchery chicks. Every time the idea makes a movement according to its nature (like ducklings taking to water), they become fearful and shuffle their feet, because they know the thought only in a specific form at a specific period of its development. Like unmathematical heads, they are unable to demonstrate the proposition which they previously were able to — now that the figures are changed and other letters are used.

May 15, 1839


Somewhere in an Indian book I have read these words: Whoever disbelieves this will be condemned to hell and reborn as an ass.

May 17, 1839



Whether this preface is going to be long or short, I simply do not know at the moment. My soul is filled with but one thought, a longing, a thirsting, really to run wild in the lyrical underbrush of the preface, really to rumble about in it, for just as the poet at times must feel lyrically stirred and then again relishes the ethical, so I as a prose writer feel at present an indescribable joy in surrendering all objective thinking and really exhausting myself in wishes and hopes, in a secret whispering with the reader, a Horatian sussuratio in the evening hours, for the preface always ought to be conceived in twilight, which also is undeniably the most beautiful; no wonder, therefore, that we read that the Lord God walked in the cool of the evening (Genesis), an evening hour when the pressure of reflection is a somber distant sound, like the laughter of the harvesters.

May 17, 1839


I live and feel these days somewhat as a chessman must feel when the opponent says: That piece cannot be moved — like a useless spectator, since my time has not yet come.

May 21, 1839


Hamann, VII, p. 144.


The Christian consciousness presupposes an entire preceeding human consciousness (in the sense of both the world-historical consciousness and the individual consciousness in the single individual), and while the Christian, therefore, has the consciousness of a flood which has annihilated the preceeding existence [Tilvær], the philosopher believes that existence begins here.

May 24, 1839


Something very strange that has often disquieted me has been the thought that the life I lived was not my own but, without my being able to prevent it, was completely identified with another particular person, and each time I did not become aware of this until it had been partially lived through.

May 24, 1839



It is quite remarkable that the address in Matthew 5 and following is called The Sermon on the Mount and thereby typically brings to mind (just as it does in a deeper sense by its contents) the great mountain sermon from Sinai, except with the difference that on Mt. Sinai Jehovah is not seen, but Moses climbed the mountain summit in order to speak with him. Here, on the other hand, Christ, in the likeness of God, sat at the foot of the mountain and thereby suggested typically that Christ was the fulfilling of the law and that this fulfilling of the law was now made possible on earth.

July 7, 1839


The trouble with me is that while other authors usually think less of what they have written in the past, I am just the opposite and always think better of what I have written prior to what I am writing at present.

July 14, 1839


There is something which one always ought to bear in mind while reading the Scriptures, that however much we may attribute to the radical continuity of perception running through the lives of the sacred authors, the temper of mind also had its right and exercised it, in order that this matchless victory over the world which sparkles around their transfigured countenances should not let us completely doubt our likeness, however remote, to these men of God. The deep sorrow, the terrible battles within our own attitudes, must not allow us to doubt completely our strength to bear what is our lot to bear. Inasmuch as such instances remind us of the dark and bright hours in our own experience, we shall not lose equilibrium, we shall not imagine that everything is accomplished in one stroke, and we shall not despair when we see that this cannot be done.

July 15, 1839


The imagination leaps particularly when one reads or hears about something that vanished long ago and is so vividly interested in it that one can only say what is sometimes said of ready-made clothing — it is as if stitched to one's body.

July 17, 1839


I would like to write a dissertation on suicide dealing with statistical information on suicide and its relation to the ancient world-view and the modern, its pathological Chladni figures, etc.

July 20, 1839



To the same degree that there is really anything significant in a person's development, to the same degree that his education comes under the concept of divine upbringing — to that same degree you can save your shouting, your loving nagging, for your voice will have no significance as a signal in his wandering, and the only thing it might accomplish would be that when he stands at a dangerous point he plunges down — as, indeed, unconscious apprehensiveness has at times occasioned the fall of one who otherwise would have stood securely enough.


It is with me as with Sarah: , I will come up for examination .


My unhappiness with the present is that I am jealous of the past.


It is dreadful that I am obliged to purchase every day, every hour — and the price is so variable!


Abstract concepts are invisible like a straight line — visible only in their concretions.


For the period of a year, a mile in time, I will plunge underground like the river Guadalquibir — but I am sure to come up again!


When one views the historical roles of the religions on their journey through the world, the relationship is as follows: Christianity is the actual proprietor who sits in the carriage; Judaism is the coachman; Mohammedanism is a groom who does not sit with the coachman but behind.



In the present age I with my aptitudes am like the beautiful little spots one sees occasionally, too far for a walking tour and too close for an expedition, and for that reason never visited or given any attention — similarly I appear neither on the present horizon nor on the telescopic horizon of the generation.


Now I can understand why H. Hertz was so eager to talk with me, now that I have read his latest handiwork with its political outbursts and forays. It is just a shame that he omitted the Translator's satirical sallies, which he no doubt believes can be done without impairing the main content, but I find it to be the best, and it definitely should not be left out, simply because of the dramatic interest in the Translator's character, but there presumably are good reasons for it — for this Hertz is not the man.

July 21, 1839


The trouble with me is that I immediately use up in one single desperate step the tiny bit of happiness and reassurance I slowly distill in the dyspeptic process of my toilsome intellectual life.

July 22, 1839


My journey through life is so unsteady because in my early youth my forelegs (expectations etc.) were weakened by being overstrained.

July 22, 1839


The reason I find so little joy in life is that when a thought awakens in my soul it awakens with such energy, larger than life, that I actually overstrain myself, and for me the ideal anticipation is so far from explaining life that instead I am debilitated when I depart from it to find something equivalent to the idea. I am too disturbed and, so to speak, nerve-shattered to rest in it.

July 25, 1839


I have felt anxious and distressed these days because of the talk by my singing-master Basil, Pastor Ibsen, on the attractiveness of a position at the Prince's Court — I who was sure that I had broken with the world to the extent that every prospect in that direction was destroyed (in a worldly sense, for God will surely make more and more definite for me the prospect of a higher Royal Household through it), I who believed that my whole life devoted to the service of God would scarcely be enough to atone for the dissipations of my youth. I hear once again the old sirens' song; with someone walking politely alongside me to show me the way, I might very well take the first step on a path where all is lost if one cannot glitter. — No, thank you, Herr Pastor! When I sit alone like Greenlander in my kayak, alone on the great ocean, sometimes above water, sometimes under, always in God's hands, I may on occasion harpoon a sea monster if it seems appropriate — but I am not cut out for an Admiral.

July 28, 1839


I can tell that my religious life of late has lost some of its energy from the fact that I no longer find the stirring rhythm of hymn-singing as invigorating as the dwindling lulling of the liturgy, the Extreme Unction of the Christian life.

July 28, 1839


..... if my witticisms are far-fetched, as some say, theirs certainly cannot be charged with that, for they are culled.

August 8, 1839


If only I could have my examination soon so that I could become a quodlibetarius once again.

Quodlibetarius: one who undertakes a mode of oral examination (usually theological) in which any question could be posed extemporaneously. — KJ
August 8, 1839


Criticism is the most hypocritical of all sciences, is really a phony, of which it is written that it strains at a gnat and swallows a camel, useless except as literary baggage inspecting.

August 24, 1839


..... I am as timorous as a Scheva, as weak and muted as a Dagesch lene; I feel like a letter printed backward in the line, as uncontrollable as a pasha with three horsetails.* Yes, if thinking about one's miseries removed them just as those who are conscious of their good deeds lose their reward, how happy a hypochondriac of my format would be, for I take all my troubles in advance and yet they all remain behind.

*In margin: as solicitous of myself and my scribblings as the National Bank is of its own, generally as reflexive as any pronoun.

August 24, 1839


All of Grundtvig's preaching is nothing but a perpetually repeated exodus of the imagination so that it is impossible to follow along, a weekly evacuation. He continually says the reason the Church up until now has not appeared in its full radiance is that it suffers under external pressures; when these are gone, it will be seen — yes, then it will be seen whether this Church of his is the perfect Church or whether in many ways it does not need a preacher like Mynster, who always leads everything back to the individual; that is where the battle must be and must not lose itself in such historical ramblings.

August 26, 1839


Rasmus Nielsen's Robust and Faithful Moral Philosophy
Found in Mad Madsen's Coffin
The World Seen from a Cellar Door


As Jewish women regarded being without children as a disgrace, so the Christian ought to regard begin without tears (which, like children, are the gift of God) as a disgrace and pray and pray, as did Rachel, that God will open the womb and viscera of the spiritual man and in the inward movements of the heart give proof of its having become pregnant.

August 29, 1839


Like Mohammed's tomb, my soul hovers between two magnets and as yet has not found a unifying point of direction, but both of them tear and pull at it the best they can.

August 30, 1839


At times my consciousness is far too spacious, far too universal; whereas it usually is able to contract convulsively and sensitively about each of my thoughts, at such times it is so huge and slack that it could very well serve several of us.

August 30, 1839


I know of no better epigram for my childhood than the lines of Goethe's Faust:

"Halb Kinderspiele,
Halb Gott im Herzen!"
September 9, 1839


While the one great world-historical development (the pagan) relaxes or takes pride in its nil admirari, the other (the Jewish) begins with "admirari," with (from an Arabian radix admirari).

September 11, 1839


The expression "at last," which appears in all our collects, is the most epically momentous and most lyrically impatient expression, the truly Christian Watchword.

September 11, 1839


I am good at keeping secrets, because I forget them just as soon as I hear them.


Of my relation to my surroundings here at home, I can now say with Jacob: I saw Laban's face, and, lo, it was not disposed toward me as it was yesterday or the day before yesterday.


He spared Abraham's firstborn and only tested the patriarch's faith; he spared not his only begotten son.

September 13, 1839


.....When some people try to write a satire, out of their anxiety to avoid becoming personal they do what Agent Behrendt did when he lost his silk umbrella — lest the finder keep it if he understood that it was made of silk, he advertised saying that the umbrella was made of cambric.


The Old Testament "Jehovah" is the true παιδαγωγóς and pedagogical bedrock: "I am that I am, go and lead my people Israel out of Egypt"; we with our officious talkativeness can all benefit from a period of being subordinate.

September 17, 1839


I feel utterly shattered these days, so that my relationship to Christianity seems destined to become altogether agonizing: (John 9:3), just as with the man blind from birth.

[Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. — KJ ]
September 23, 1839


See page 9 at bottom [i.e., II A 385].

The great poetic power of folk literature is expressed in various ways, also in the intensity of its craving and coveting (in comparison with which the covetousness of our age is simultaneously so sinful and tedious because it always craves and covets what belongs to the neighbor); this covetousness, on the other hand, is very conscious that the neighbor no more possesses what it seeks than it does itself, and therefore it does not need to desire what is his, and if it gets what it desires, it will have a superabundance for the whole world, and if eventually it covets sinfully, it will nevertheless tower so imposingly over the chicken-thieves of our time, since it is so scandalous and titanesque, that it inevitably must at least shake people up, and in its descriptions it does not allow anything to be scaled down by the cold calculation of probability and pedestrian understanding. D. Juan still glides across the stage with his 1,003 mistresses and no one smiles at it, but if this were created in our time it would be laughed to scorn; no one dares to do it, out of respect and deference for tradition no one dares do it; indeed, one is carried away by it momentant, although in the next moment he is ashamed that this enthusiasm has "made a fool of him".


And you, too, my lucida intervalla, I must bid farewell, and you, my thoughts, imprisoned in my head, I can no longer let you go strolling in the cool of the evening, but do not be discouraged, learn to know one another better, associate with one another, and I will no doubt be able to slip off occasionally and peek in on you — Au revoir!

S. K.
formerly Dr. Exstaticus
December 20, 1839



When people think about the world in this way, Christianity reveals itself itself in its magnificent elevating form, and they feel that it is, after all, the most splendid and the most profound of all and they say to themselves: "My thoughts will often return to these lofty considerations. When anxious doubts about man and his significance come into my fearful mind, I shall look to this divine picture in order to assure myself as to what man nevertheless is; I shall recall it in my best moments in order that thought, since it is expanded, can also be strengthened. I shall not allow myself to be disturbed by the many disturbing concerns of earthly life which so easily make life wretched for us; I shall forget everything else in order to identify myself with these perceptions which, even if they were only a dream, would still be the most blessed" . . . . .

But Christianity is opposed to being treated in this way. Just as it never found any day too bad for it to enter with gladness, no human being too insignificant for it to take up residence in his heart, so also it has never repudiated its divine authority. It comes to us in humble insignificance in order not to distress us with its magnificence, but it also comes in heavenly magnificence as that in whose name every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth. Only when it becomes the way, the truth, and the life for you, only then does it become everything to you, and it must be all or nothing for you. But when its mighty voice speaks to you and says: I will be everything to you; I will be your God and establish my covenant with you; I shall no longer be merely a poem which inspires you in a happy moment and perhaps vanishes when uneasiness darkens your mind; I shall be with you even though at times you were to stray away from yourself; even though at times you were to forget me, I nevertheless shall not forget you; I shall warn and admonish you, call upon you at the opportune time in order that you may remain close to me, and when you feel weak and demolished you will feel the heavenly powers moving within you, and when you doubt, you will at the opportune time feel the heavenly assurance — in the heat of conflict God's grace will shade you.



On Communion

You find it to be a beautiful token of the brotherhood which should exist among all human beings ..... or even more, you feel the elevation of its being also a token of the brotherhood which should exist between Christ and us, which is the condition for our brotherhood with men.

But should it not be something more? — I want to ask you a question: What is the basis of the practice of offering it also to the dying? It certainly is a practice which you would by no means consider superfluous, meaningless, or a practice which ought to be abolished, for you also wish to have it offered to you in your final hour. But is there any moment in life when we feel that we stand alone in the world more than in the moment of death? Even if they surrounded our deathbed in great numbers, all our friends and relatives, they would stand there powerless to do anything for us, perhaps unaware of what moves within us at that moment, what gives us uneasiness, or what consolingly smiles upon us. And yet, in this moment, you desire to participate in the most sacred sacrament. Would it be because even in this last hour you would, as in a farewell, be reminded of the brotherhood of which you are now to take leave, because once again you want to let this beautiful thought stream through your soul? Or is it not because your thoughts turn toward your God, stray beyond earthly relationships and cannot find rest, because you feel that just as you were and are a link in the great chain, so you are also surely an object of God's attentiveness, accountable to him for your conduct and your striving? Therefore you want to be assured of your reconciliation with God, and this ought to have taken place already — this, therefore, is the preeminent significance of communion. But the other meaning, the corollary, should also have its place, because you can be a member of a brotherhood only because you are an independent being, and you can be a worthy and contributing member only insofar as you in yourself and with yourself are assured of your reconciliation with God.

But as we prepare ourselves for the holy communion, we must take care that nothing which could seem meritorious insinuates itself, as if by our preparation, by our repentance of sins, by our contrition, we were made worthy of grace. But the assurance of the forgiveness of sins and of our community with Christ, which are here declared to us, are not a reward but a gift of grace, and the all too great uneasiness about going to the Lord's table can often have its roots in one's wanting to take as little as possible as grace.



Those Who Were Called at the Eleventh Hour

(Those who were called in the hour of death, the thief.)

We saw them, those who wandered along the way so carefree, so happy, so full of the joy of life, with the lightheartedness of youth and its lofty expectations; and the young congregated intimately around them and the adults were rejuvenated by the very sight of them. And now there they are, full of days, weary of life — and yet it was not glory and honor nor a striving for a glorious reputation which consumed their power; no, it was the confused enjoyment of pleasures, in whose service they had devoted the courage of their youth, their hope. Or should I describe to you the many who even in their youth lived in the world without the energy to work and without the heart to pray, like shipwrecked people who have lost everything, even faith and confidence in the possibility of beginning once again, the many who lived among us like dead ghosts, and when at times an intimation of power flared up in their souls, they lifted embittered, defiant countenances toward heaven and insolently demanded the return of that which they themselves had dissipated; or, if their disintegration did not vent itself in such a vigorous outburst, a quiet despair brooded over their minds. ...... yet these, too, were called in the eleventh hour; perhaps to them, too, now, came the earnest but gentle voice which created hope within them.

Here one sees the great difference between the world and Christianity. The world is not without feeling; it will shed a tear for them, berate them ..... and let them go the way of perdition — but Christianity will not do this. And if now in such a person in the night of his despair the divine call evoked a living hope which flamed up in him with renewed strength, perhaps the world would be struck by this and would tolerate him. But should he fail at times, should the path become too narrow for him and be frequently marked by relapses, then the world would certainly break the staff on him; but if it is obliged to hear that they who are called in the eleventh hour are to have the same wages as those who bore the heat and toil of the day, it would be offended.

But it is not like this with the Christian.


It could be very interesting to show up the falsity in all kinds of expressions — for example: "Something could be made of this" (yes, quite right, for anyone who can make something of anything at all can make it of nothing).
"I was in a hurry"
"To disparage the former."


There are men who talk according to the association of ideas; but more fundamental than this is a level which I would call the Selbstsucht of order, where one word carries another word along with it, where words which frequently mingle in the same company seek one another in about the same way as words in a dictionary, if they were to come alive, would place themselves in the same order to which they were accustomed.

January 30, 1837




There are books in which some borrowed idea or notion comes back again and again in a wholly extrinsic way, so that it is almost the same as the refrains in old ballads, N.B., those that pop up in the middle of the stanza and do not have the slightest relation to the poem itself.

February 5, 1839


Guldkorset — Gudrun —

Falsehoods in stories.
At the same time they are eulogized for heroic courage — they get the weapon which safeguards them —


The birth of Christ is an event not only on earth but also in heaven, but our justification is also an event not only on earth but also in heaven.


At every moment Christ is God just as much as he is man — just as the sky seems to be as deep in the sea as it is high above the sea.


How unhappy I am — Martensen has written an essay on Lenau's Faust.


The Don Juanian life is really musical, and thus it is very proper for Lenau in his Faust, at the moment Faust begins to portray Don Juan, to have Mephistopheles start the music.

— Martensen has not seen the deeper significance of this circumstance.


The idea, the philosophy of life, of knowing all evil, which a sect of gnosticism embraced, is profound; only one must have a predisposition for it, which is suggested in legends by the ability of the baptized to see things that others do not see.


Metaphysical lectures by the publican Zacchaeus in a sycamore tree, tediously compiled for the diversion and reassurance of troubled consciences in dark and sorrowful hours, by his grateful colleague, the former assistant customs officer. Along with a young philologist's immortal commentary, in order to increase the saleability of the book there is included a brief résumé of the topics belieblich arranged zum Gebrauch für Jedermann.

Drone House. Printed this year.

A list of abusive words one can use without being sued for libel is included.


Why is there so much talk about — or, more correctly, what after all is the source of the idea of talking about the devil's great-grandmother.


Someone dies just as he has proved that there is eternal damnation, trapped in his own theory. Remarkable transition from theory to practice.


Yes, I believe I would surrender to Satan so that he could show me every abomination, every sin, in its most dreadful form — it is this penchant, this taste, for the secret of sin.


What is the nourishment offered one by all the world's knowledge in comparison to what is given by Christianity, which pours out the very body and blood of its founder.



Although I rail against others for studying compendiums instead of the sources, I myself live a compendium — although I am able to win every argument, I am saddled with a ghost from my own imagination which I cannot argue away. —


Now and then I see myself hemmed in by an appalling, phrase-laden figure — I would call it a compendium of a human being — a brief résumé of emotions and ideas — a belieblich long, thin man whom nature, however, has arrested, so to speak, in every development — he should have long arms, but the upper arm is extremely long and the lower arm very short, the same with his fingers, face, etc.; every communication begins with a very promising introductory phase so that one hopefully applies a prodigious criterion, but then it comes to nothing. —


All of us walk this road over the Bridge of Sighs into the peace of eternity. —


The Hottentots always cut off the head of a snake they have killed, fearing that someone may accidentally step on it and be bitten, since they believe that even after its death the snake can do injury with its poison.


Why does a dog howl ......


I feel like the poor parrot who is always asked: What do you want? You want sugar? — Yes, ..... You shall have sh — !


Like a lonely spruce tree, egoistically exclusive and pointing toward the higher, I stand and cast no shadow, and only the wood dove builds its nest in my branches.

Sunday, July 9, in Frederiksberg
Park, after visiting Rørdam


It is curious that the Italian blue-violet shade, which we usually do not have here in our country, can be seen on a clear evening by looking at the air through a window if one has a light between oneself and the window.

May 5, 1837


Postponing baptism until the end, until the deathbed, was also a way of uniting life and Christianity (just as in a later period, the romantic, one entered a monastery.)

June 12, 1837


Original sin — redemption — angels — "You shall be like the angels" — eternal damnation.


About eternal damnation
eternal, continuous development (contrad. in adjecto) the eternal as the opposite of time, not an infinite succession of moments in time.
Children who die early — Pagans — See Gynther, II, p. 118, bottom.


A person wants to write a novel in which one of the characters goes insane; during the process of composition he himself gradually goes insane and ends it in the first person.


What a wonderful prelude to a visit to the cemetery — a pretty little girl at the window of the sexton's house, peeking out curiously.


The refrain which repeatedly recurs in hero ballads is again one of the very illuminating characteristics of the Middle Ages. The refrain is the as yet not reproduced lyrical rhythm which goes through it, the melodic, or better, the melodious mood — it is the same thing — that appears again when at a later time something is said to be sung to this or that melody, an external token of the musical which has even been carried over into the headings of the hymns (to be sung to this or that melody), only that here the musical is differentiated as a distinct aspect, whereas in the first instance it slumbered within a unity, of which one can say that just as all thought is speaking with oneself (consequently silent) all poetry is singing for oneself, for which we have a word: humming. Therefore I believe that the task of the composer of genuine ballad music (as an example I cite the elder Hartmann) is to reproduce the mood of the poet by reciting or rather by chanting the words for himself until this recitation eventuates in music and separates the purely musical from the point of departure for the musical in the lyrical.


I don't feel like doing anything. I don't feel like walking — it is tiring; I don't feel like lying down, for either I would lie a long time, and I don't feel like doing that, or I would get up right away, and I don't feel like that either — I don't feel like riding — the motion is too rigorous for my apathy; I don't feel like doing anything except just taking a drive, indolently, smoothly undulating along, letting objects in abundance glide by, pausing at every beautiful spot merely to feel my listlessness — my ideas and impulses are just as barren as a eunuch's desire. — I seek in vain for something to stimulate me — not even the pithy language of the Middle Ages is able to destroy the emptiness that prevails in me — now I really feel the meaning of the expression about Christ's words: that they are life and spirit — to be brief: I do not feel like writing what I have written here, and I do not feel like erasing it either.


Would to God that I were a fiddler — a farmers' woodland festival after all, they are the happiest class of people, the farmers and farm girls. But right now I have no way of expressing all my feelings. Would that out there I had one person to whom I could communicate — one of the few to cling to now more than ever — and be rid of these philistines and cadets who do not childishly and goodnaturedly see the mote as most men do, but aristocratically overlook the good.


Every flower of my heart turns into a frost flower.


My ideas suffer the same fate as parents who do indeed bear healthy children but forget to have them baptized in time; along come the subterranean spirits and put a changeling in their place (native gifts are not lacking, but solicitous care and nurture).


It seems as if I were the hero in a story, a wild shoot who should be displayed in a novel.


How profound is the popular legend which supposes that the elf-people play with human beings somewhat as we play with a fish on a line.



It seems as if I were a galley slave chained together with death; every time life stirs, the chain rattles and death makes everything decay — and that takes place every moment.


Everything human lies, hope as well as despair — I read this as a quotation in an old devotional book.


Each one takes his own revenge on the world. I get mine by carrying my sorrows and afflictions shut up inside me while the laughter entertains everybody. If I see anyone suffering, I am sorry for him, console him as well as I can, listen calmly when he assures me "that I am happy." If I can keep on doing this until I die, I will be avenged.


The fate of my ideas and their fulfillment is much like fishing during certain months of the year — the fish nibble — there are plenty of nibbles, but no fish.


I am a two-faced Janus: with one face I laugh, with the other I cry.


The Christian must not lack the eye, in a human sense the illuminating light, which for me makes it easier to comprehend a painted landscape than nature; there and in history he meets God's eye.


..... this is why the Chinese have neither light nor shadow in their painting.


The Lord's Prayer, also in its separate parts, corresponds to the Ten Commandments as the sole command.


There are human beings who lack the comparative; generally they are the most interesting.



Christ did not go in for writing — he wrote only in sand.

October 2, 1837


Fantasy: An insane man who answered every question with a grade ration — when asked how he was, he answered: B+ etc.


I was in a strange mood the other day, collapsed within (as an old ruin must feel), abstracted from myself and my I in a pantheistic state of dissolution, and I read an old folk song (published by Sneedorf-Birch), which tells of a girl who waited for her lover one Saturday evening, but he did not come — and she went to bed "and wept so bitterly"; she got up again "and wept so bitterly". Suddenly the scene expanded before my eyes — I saw the Jutland heath with its indescribable solitude and its lonely lark — and now one generation after another arose before me, and the girls all sang for me and wept so bitterly and sank into their graves, and I wept with them.

Strangely enough, my imagination works best when I am sitting alone in a large assemblage, when the tumult and noise require a substratum of will if the imagination is to hold on to its object; without this environment it bleeds to death in the exhausting embrace of an indefinite idea.

December 30, 1837


I would like to write a novella with my own mottoes.

Motto: Fantasy for a post horn.

A man who is writing his biography — his childhood has made no impression on him at all, and in his narrowmindedness he sees only the ludicrousness of it — until he begins to teach children, discovers the meaning of childhood, and reproduces his own.

I would choose for my motto the Italian text of the words in Don Juan: But they wither and soon fade away.

Prompted by the song "My Brimming Glass" and its gay tune, he will experience total recollection of his childhood.

It is strange that the view of life articulated here (and the fact that it contains a view of life makes it interesting) caused people to enjoy wine, etc., moderately when with friends — fear of Christian restrain led them to become addicted (the latter occurs far more frequently in our day).

*     *

Winter is summer's abbreviatur.

The book should be published with occasional refrains by an insane man.

The prototype in his predilection for the stock exchange (its ruinous decline) because of his relation to utterly reduced families.

January 2, 1838


How strange it is that one day I walk in cothurni and the next — in boots.


The other day I met a woman (Mrs. Ross) who really belongs in a hospital ward; all she talks about is illnesses and medicines and health precaution — but the main point she really wants to talk about is the extent to which the closest relatives should be allowed to visit a sick person who is practically lying at death's door.

January 3, 1838


If I am a literary weed — well, then at least I am what is called "Proud Henry."


Vaudeville is a musical association of ideas.


I was just searching for an expression to designate the kind of people I would like to write for, convinced that they would share my views, and now I find it in Lucian: (one who like me is dead), and I would like to issue a publication for .

January 9, 1838


Lucian has an excellent dialogue between Charon and the Cynic Menippus, which begins with Charon's demanding an obol for the trouble of taking him across the Styx, but Menippus declaring that he does not have one.

January 10, 1838


When I read a book, what gratifies me is not so much what the book itself is as the infinite possibilities there must have been in every passage, the complicated history, rooted in the author's personality, studies, etc., which every phrase must have had and still must have for the author.

January 13, 1838


It is strange that no one ever thought of having a man at the point of dying say to Death — If you do not die, then I am going to kill you — and what confusion there would be in the world if it happened, how awkward for those waiting for a rich man's death.

January 18, 1838


The emphasis on head-aptitude nowadays is just as unreasonable and unjust as the levy of a head-tax.

February 5, 1838


When at times there is such a commotion in my head that the skull seems to have been heaved up, it is as if goblins had hoisted up a mountain a bit and are now having a hilarious ball in there.

In margin: God forbid!

February 9, 1838


The abstract character of the Jews shows itself also in their predilection for money — not for property, etc., of money value — for money is a pure abstraction.


What is man, this stamen in everlasting flowers (the transfiguration of history).

April 12, 1838


Christ walks in history as he walked in life (his earthly life) — between two robbers: one of whom hardens his heart, the other repents.

April 12, 1838


That the earth is in the center may also be seen from Christ's being in heaven, descending into the abyss, but remaining on earth, so that no one needs to climb up to heaven to bring him down — or into the underworld to bring him up; therefore the Church, without being able to comprehend him, correctly teaches that Christ is in it, although it also teaches that he is in heaven.


When someone wants to express that he comprehends something right away, why does he say that he recognizes a snatch of melody, and why is it that one is far more easily impressed by music than by the word — to what aspect of the psyche does music address itself: imagination?


A fantasy: a mad school teacher with a Mardi Gras whip in his hand; he insists that it is Aaron's priestly staff bearing mature almonds.


In the spiritual sense there prevails no respect at all for the right of property — they shout: crucify him, crucify him, and then they cast lots for his clothes.


Our age heralds and announces, and yet no John the Baptist is born any more.


If Gjødwad (licenciate I shall call him because he exercises so much licence) is convicted, he could be called "the one-time idol in the office of Kjøbenhavnsposten." — Incidentally, it will be easy for Kjøbenhavnsposten to get a new editor, since they take for granted occasional incarnations of Brahma — or Rosenhoff could take over the post and also become country barber with three shaving basins: Kjøbenhavnsposten, Den Frisindede, Concordia.


If Christ is to come and live in me, it will have to be according to the Gospel for the day given in the almanac: Christ enters through closed doors.


I would like to write a novella which begins with an unqualified still life, until through the medium of the Don Juan music a new light is suddenly ushered in, and then the whole thing is drawn into an utterly fantastic world.


There are several absolutely wonderful great ideas in Grabbe's Don Juan, each one of which shoots up like an enormous spruce at a given moment and stands before us.


Equal strokes,
Pause not long.
Pull now, steady.
Danish lads.


Die Ironien in den Reden Jesu, by F. Joseph Grulich. Leipzig: 1838.


An author should always give something of his personality, just as Christ feeds us with his body and blood.


This morning I met an odd procession in Lovers' Lane — some young girls dancing with each other along the path — at first I thought what giddyheads, but then as I came closer I saw that they were dancing to the music of two young men behind them playing flutes — I almost began to dance with them — so there is still that kind of poetry in the world. — If I encounter more such phenomena, I will certainly become a Don Quixote who sees such things in everything.


My life these days is more or less like a duplicated copy of an original edition of my own self.


When it is said that in drunkenness men place themselves beneath the animals, there is implicit recognition of a sinfulness which slumbers within man, for otherwise he would simply put himself on an equal level, but now there awakens a hell of impulses.



I have been reading Görres' Athanasius these days — not only with my eyes but with my whole body, with the solar plexus.


For a dedication copy of my treatise:

Since I know that you probably will not read it, and if you did would not understand it, and if you understood it would take exception to it, may I direct your attention only to the externals: gilt-edges and Morocco binding.


A midnight hour
Satan — the devil — fly specks, etc. You have tricked me, cheated me of the moments I should have enjoyed. — The watchman cries: There is no other Savior.


In many ways my yearnings and thoughts are like Nebuchadnezzar, who not only asked the soothsayers to interpret his dreams but also to tell him what he had dreamed.


My good mood, my tranquility, soars upward like a dove, pursued by Saul's evil spirit, by a bird of prey, and it can save itself only by mounting higher and higher, by getting farther and farther away from me.

August 17, 1838


It is clear that modern philosophy makes the historical Christ a kind of natural son, at most an adopted son.


The divine and the diabolic are the only genuine mysteries, but the mystery of God is revealed in Christ — whereas the mystery of the devil (mysterium impietatis) will first become visible in a corresponding manifestation: the anti-Christ.


An esthetic thought-bridle on Knight Andersen's wild hunt through the shadowed valley of self-contradiction.


Even if Kjøbenhavnsposten were published in imperial folio, this would not make it a magna charta.


My position is armed neutrality.


Sir Knight, so many a path is in decay
But open and broad is the graveyard-way.
            eia! eia! eia!
            eia! eia! eia!


Take off your shoes, for the place where you are standing is holy. ..... It does not help, of course, that many of them are — trouserless.


The liberal is related to Kjøbenhavnsposten the way Niels Klim's caraway kringles are related to him.


There are many means of self-defense. It is well-known that the musk-ox exudes such a strong odor that no one can come near it.


Kjøbenhavnsposten is wind-warped (it twists with the wind).


One must be careful with my preface, for the same thing happens to it as happened to the treasure:

but if you say one word
it disappears again.
     Oehlenschlaeger's "Skattegraveren"


But Andersen is not so dangerous, after all; from what I have experienced, his main strength is an auxiliary chorus of volunteer arrangers and invitation distributors, a few vagabond esthetes, who perpetually protest their honesty, and this much is certain, they can by no means be charged with any reservatio mentalis, for they have absolutely nothing in mente.


My witticisms, he says, are far-fetched; his are not — they are culled.


Here will be a place for a complete study of the significance of ascetism as something characteristically Christian.



Halb Kinderspiele,
Halb Gott im Herzen.



Begging — that is not our way!
Youth on the road of life
Lustily seizes the treasure.
        Christian Winther


Twenty-five Years Old

..... So lass uns leben,
Wir beten, sing'n, erzählen uns Geschichten
Und lachen über goldne Schmetterlinge;
Wir hören Neuigkeiten von dem Hof
Aus armer Schlucker Munde, Schwätzen mit,
Wer wohl gewinnt, verliert, wer steigt, wer fällt,
Wir sprechen von geheimnissvollen Dingen,
Als ob wir in das Tiefste sie durchschauten;
Und so in unserm Kerker überleben
Wir alle Secten und Partei'n der Grossen,
Die mit des Mondes Wechsel sich verändern.
                King Lear


Addition to 804:
Then it was that the great earthquake occurred, the frightful upheaval which suddenly drove me to a new infallible principle for interpreting all the phenomena. Then I surmised that my father's old-age was not a divine blessing, but rather a curse, that our family's exceptional intellectual capacities were only for mutually harrowing one another; then I felt the stillness of death deepen around me, when I saw in my father an unhappy man who would survive us all, a memorial cross on the grave of all his personal hopes. A guilt must rest upon the entire family, a punishment of God must be upon it: it was supposed to disappear, obliterated by the mighty hand of God, erased like a mistake, and only at times did I find a little relief in the thought that my father had been given the heavy duty of reassuring us all with the consolation of religion, telling us that a better world stands open for us even if we lost this one, even if the punishment the Jews always called down upon their enemies should strike us: that remembrance of us would be completely obliterated, that there would be no trace of us.


Addition to 805:

Inwardly shattered as I was, with no prospect of leading a happy life on this earth ("that it might go well with me and I might live long on this earth"), devoid of all hope for a pleasant, happy future — as this naturally proceeds from and is inherent in the historical continuity of home and family life — what wonder then that in despairing desperation I seized hold of the intellectual side of man exclusively, hung on to that, with the result that the thought of my eminent mental faculties was my only comfort, ideas my only joy, and men of no importance to me.


Much of my suffering occurred because the doubt, concern, and restlessness, which my real self wanted to forget in order to form a view of the world, my reflective self seemed to try to impress upon me and sustain, partly as a necessary and partly as an interesting feature of transition, in the fear that I might have shammed a result.

For example, now when my life has shaped up in such a way that it seems that I am destined to study for the examination in perpetuum and that no matter how long I live I will never get beyond the point where I once voluntarily stopped (just as one occasionally sees mentally deranged people who forget their whole intermediate life and remember only their childhood, or forget everything but one single moment in their lives) — it seems that the very thought of being a student of theology must remind me simultaneously of that happy period of possibilities (which might be called one's preexistence) and of my stopping there, feeling somewhat like the child who does not grow because he had been given alcohol. Now when my energetic self tries to forget it in order to act, my reflective self wants very much to hang on to it, because it seems interesting, and, as reflection raises itself to the power of a universal consciousness, abstracts from my personal consciousness.


I read it the first time I stayed at Gilleleie; I usually spent most of my time there strolling in a woods, and I read it aloud to the animals. I spoke louder than the birds sang and they did not understand me. What could be more natural, then, that I began thinking of my last country holiday, when I did not need to go out for a walk to escape misunderstanding and to secure at least non-understanding for myself, and that is already something; one is actually tempted to establish a kind of freemasonry, because, after all, to be totally misunderstood by others ought to be regarded as a happy fate.


Venerable Sir

I went for a walk this afternoon at 6 o'clock

Get up, dear, put on your boots and cover yourself from the bottom up with leather and wander away from your home and your ancestral city and for a brief hour be a foreigner in Reitzel's shop. And he put on his boots and was away from his home, and he said: Dear, if I found favor in your eyes. ......

Addition: my style non solum claudicat
like the progenitor of the Jews,
sed omnino judaizat.

Addition: I do not suffer merely as Tantalus did — at every moment I am not only faint from hunger but at the very same moment I am almost surfeited.


What is truth — that is the question which for me still continues to stand as a heading of a very thick, very well-bound book — with blank pages. Up until now the truth I have found has not [above 'not': only] had happy [above 'happy': unhappy] results for me. After my houseman by entering my bedroom had intimated that it was already day, after he had given me a brief summary of the events of the day and the night (unfortunately there was nothing like a fire, for example, and I could well understand that I had slept so soundly, because the night had been so unusually boring), had prepared my mind (waked it from its slumbers) for the question of the day, one of the most difficult and crucial problems for just about the whole internal economy — procuring the necessary store of firewood for the winter — after I had listened to my highly trusted houseman's report on the preliminary investigation of the weather, an investigation I listened to sitting up in bed because of its unusual importance and interest as well as the Umsicht with which it was treated (for less important matters I usually lie stretched out), he thought with all certainty that he dared propose that the wood purchase take place today. Meanwhile, since I was unable advantageously and profitably to contemplate the heavens from my prone position, I decided to get up and scan the sky.

I decided not to buy it as I could see that it was definitely going to rain.

I went out for a walk and got sopping wet.


[Almost word for word the piece incorporated among the "Diapsalmata" in Either/Or, I: "How strangely sad I felt" — etc.]

December 20, 1839






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