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The Special Messenger
Rediscovering Kierkegaard

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By Hannay, Alastair
ISBN 9781846220791
Hardback  126 pages
Published 7 January 2022
UK Price £18.95   
US Price $27.50   

Readers often come to know Kierkegaard’s work through just one or two of the more widely mentioned of his twenty-eight publications.
Here the first-time reader is offered an introduction to Kierkegaard that situates the texts in a context of the personal circumstances from which they arose.
This makes it clear why Kierkegaard was able to conclude not only that writing had been his own education, but that posterity would find as much interest in what made him put pen to paper as in the individual texts that were the result.
Central in this respect are the pseudonymous works, summarized here and situated in their two main ‘indirect’ and ‘direct’ phases and within a wider biographical context that shows the approaching and infamous ‘attack on the church’ just prior to Kierkegaard’s early death to be an inevitable outcome.
Some common catchphrases (‘leap of faith’, ‘Father of Existentialism’, ‘Three Stages’) are examined in depth, while to counter a tendency to distort the legacy by explaining its focus on God and the individual as an expression of time and place, or purely personal circumstances, the details of Kierkegaard’s cultural and family origins are placed after the commentary.
Finally, an invitation to further questioning is offered in the form of reflections on how Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, given the latter’s declaration of the death of God, might have responded to one another.

“This brief brilliant work is not yet another ‘introduction to Kierkegaard’, but a concluding, retrospective understanding by a scholar thoroughly familiar with Kierkegaard’s entire canon.
Those who have read a good deal of Kierkegaard and have immersed themselves broadly in modern and classical philosophical texts will find in Hannay’s The Special Messenger a sophisticated, provocative discussion of Kierkegaard’s significance.
I know of no work that comes close to it.”

Bruce H. Kirmmse, General Editor, Kierkegaard’s Journals and Notebooks, 11 volumes, Princeton University Press, 2007-2020.

Alastair Hannay was born in 1932 in England with Scottish parents, educated in Edinburgh and London, and has been a resident of Norway since 1961.
He is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University Oslo.

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