Religious Studies

Book Review

W. Glenn Kirkconnell Kierkegaard on Sin and Salvation: From Philosophical Fragments through the Two Ages. (London and New York: Continuum, 2010). Pp. 181. £65.00 (Hbk). ISBN 978 1 4411 2083 0.


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This book promises a reading of Kierkegaard's published works from Philosophical Fragments up to and including the review Two Ages (also published in English as A Literary Review). In addition to these ‘book-end’ titles this period includes the major works The Concept of Anxiety, Stages on Life's Way, and Concluding Unscientific Postscript, as well as the deliciously satirical Prefaces and a number of upbuilding discourses. The author's aim is to throw new light on this material by reading the signed works (i.e. the upbuilding discourses) alongside the pseudonymous works and doing so chronologically. He claims that ‘this reveals aspects of Kierkegaard's thought that are obscure or invisible to other approaches’, adding that this is still ‘a controversial and complicated process’ (p. 159). However, while maybe not all scholars agree on this dual-track approach, it is perhaps not so novel as is claimed. There is more out there on the role of the upbuilding discourses as an intertext for the pseudonymous works than Kirkconnell suggests and it seems odd that at the very least he does not reference the relevant volumes of the International Kierkegaard Commentary that discuss the discourses. Jamie Ferreira's Kierkegaard, which reads the pseudonymous works and the discourses side-by-side through the entirety of the authorship, is referenced but neither discussed nor engaged with, nor is other recent work in this area. The book ends with an appropriate expression of modesty and the claim that it is merely seeking ‘to steer our conversation down productive paths’ (p. 160), but even in relation to this limited aim it is perhaps over-optimistic as to the extent to which Kierkegaard's ‘progress’ can be dovetailed into a unified narrative. The treatment of the rarely discussed Interlude in Fragments is thoughtful and insightful and well worth pondering and shows what Kirkconnell might do were he to give all the texts discussed this kind of attention – but then we'd be looking at a much, much longer work!