D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on Kierkegaard

Second Period: Indirect Communication (1843-46)

Who Is the Author Of Either/Or?

  • Who is the Author of Either/Or?
  • Hvo er Forfatteren af Enten-Eller
  • A. F.
  • February 27, 1843
  • KW13, SKS13, SV13, Fædrelandet 1162

This short article appeared just one week after the appearance of Either/Or, which Kierkegaard considered to mark the beginning of his authorship. The length of this "monster", as it was called by one paper, shocked the reviewers of the day, leaving many unsure how to approach it. It was published in two volumes amounting to over 800 pages. Kierkegaard considered Either/Or to have "a plan from the first word to the last". This work, in turn, formed part of a larger plan. For more introductory material see Either/Or.

In this article Kierkegaard begins by stating that there is no consensus as to the authorship of the work. He posits various theories on the authorship based on external and internal evidence. At no point does he, as A. F., claim to know who the author is. Much less does he mention the name of Kierkegaard. After several conjectures, he says that it is not really important who wrote the work.

Most people, including the author of this article, think it is not worth the trouble to be concerned about who the author is. They are happy not to know his identity, for then they have only the book to deal with, without being bothered or distracted by his personality (p. 16).

One reason behind Kierkegaard's pseudonymity was, as he states, to create authorial distance. This enabled the reader to concentrate on the work itself. Furthermore, each pseudonym has a distinct persona and represents a particular viewpoint. It is amazing how Kierkegaard's authorial philosophy anticipated the views of modern literary theory by a century. For more on this see Kierkegaard's Authorial Method.