D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on Kierkegaard

Second Period: Indirect Communication (1843-46)

A Word Of Thanks To Professor Heiberg

  • A Word of Thanks to Professor Heiberg
  • Taksigelse til Hr. Professor Heiberg
  • Victor Eremita
  • March 5, 1843
  • KW13, SKS15, Fædrelandet 1168

The pseudonym Kierkegaard chose for this very brief article is the general editor of Either/Or, Victor Eremita. J. L. Heiberg was great among Copenhagen's literary society, and Kierkegaard would later parody his work in Prefaces. Heiberg would go on to publish misguided and slipshod reviews of Either/Or and Repetition. The latter was reviewed in his publication Urania, which he described as a "New Year's gift intended for the esthetically cultured public".

Admittedly, some of Heiberg's criticism is understandable, namely, that the work is, to him, tiresomely long. This same criticism would be levelled against Concluding Unscientific Postscript, a work of over 600 pages. But again, Heiberg simply did not understand Kierkegaard's intent, and saw the work, like many in his day, as a great curiosity and as a compendium of literary fantasy. It is easy to see how Heiberg could misunderstand the work since it appeared on February 20, 1843, and his review appeared on March 1. He simply had not had time to digest such an idiosyncratic and complex work.

Kierkegaard was himself on the fringe of literary society, but rapidly moving inward, and never afraid to speak or write the truth in his sometimes blistering style. This tongue-in-cheek article nods to the importance of Heiberg's review, but is really a biting profession of Heiberg's misunderstanding of, and therefore insensitivity to, a finer dialectic.