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Exceptionally Common Courage: Fear and Trembling and the Puzzle of Kierkegaard's Authorship

By author: Kevin Hoffman
Product Code: P633
ISBN: 9780881468076
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EXCEPTIONALLY COMMON COURAGE provides an extended, close reading of FEAR AND TREMBLING, Kierkegaard's well-known, pseudonymous book about Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. It then fits this (in)famous work into the broader and puzzling corpus that includes both other pseudonymous works and signed discourses by this same mercurial author. Though not the first to tackle Kierkegaard from the direction of either a single work or the whole authorship, this two-in-one book relates whole and part to whole and part in a way that reads like a genuine musical counterpoint. The scholarly debates inevitably generated by any treatment of FEAR AND TREMBLING are here addressed in ways that arise from a detailed interpretation of the text itself without letting secondary material interrupt the primary train of thought. Along the way, Kierkegaard's ideas are brought into conversation with a much broader than usual cannon of interlocutors, including such figures as Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and James Baldwin, R.H. Tawney and Wendell Berry. And by the end, the complex movement of the entire authorship becomes audible above the various isolated and doctrinaire notes typically highlighted in comparable studies. The recurring melody is about existential courage, about the risk of emotionally investing in earthly goods against the ambiguous inevitability of their loss. Woven throughout Kierkegaard's so-called esthetic and religious writings, this common task of facing threats to the integral meaning of human experience stands out in arresting color. As the chapters unfold, this understanding of faith as a form of courage provides not just direction, but a topographical score for what is originally a highly indirect and elusive textual arrangement.
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