D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on Kierkegaard

Fourth Period: A Prelude to The Second Authorship (1846-48)

The Crisis And A Crisis In The Life Of An Actress

  • The Crisis and A Crisis in the Life of an Actress
  • Krisen og en Krise i en Skuespillerindes Liv
  • Inter et Inter
  • 1848, July 24-27
  • KW17, SKS13, SV10, Fædrelandet 188-91

This work was published in four installments in Fædrelandet (The Fatherland). Esthetic concerns are foremost here, as is further evidenced by the use of a "lower" pseudonym. (For more on this see Kierkegaard's Authorial Method). Kierkegaard had an abiding interest in acting, as is seen in his article Phister as Captain Scipio and Either/Or (see "The Tragic in Ancient Drama" and "The First Love"). This work is specifically on the acting abilities of Johanne Luise Pätges Heiberg (1812-1890), the wife of Johan Ludvig Heiberg, one of Denmark's leading literary and social figures. In her large autobiography she expressed her admiration for Kierkegaard for possessing insight into her art. Since Kierkegaard used an esthetic pseudonym, he resorts to what he calls reflection.

In Two Ages, which was written under Kierkegaard's own name, reflection is a negative term meaning passionless self-referential thought. Here it is esthetic recollection, and thus important from the standpoint of esthetics, but naturally, in regard to the absolute, it was of lesser importance. Kierkegaard published this study a year after Fru Heiberg's latter performance.

The delay in publication was due to the fact that he had become a strictly religious author just months before this study, and was unsure of the appropriateness of returning to esthetic considerations. In the Crisis he says, "Indeed, I am surprised that it [the subject of theatrical performance] has not more often been made a subject for reflection."

The aspect of recollection, inspired by Plato's theory of recollection (knowledge acquisition), provides the launching pad for this short study in two ways. Fru Heiberg had performed the role of Juliet when she was young, and then returned to the role almost 20 years later, in 1847. The actress as an adult performs again the role of a teenage girl, and thus must recall her youth and youthfulness in general. Kierkegaard maintains that only an older woman has the necessary reflection to play this role. Second, the autobiography of Fru Heiberg was called A Life Relived in Recollection. Her whole assessment of her career was based on reflection.

The pseudonym Inter et Inter is Latin for "Between and Between". It may be meant to remind us of the Latin translation of either/or, aut/aut. Stephen Crites says that this pseudonym "suggests the intermission at the theatre, but doubtless is also intended to reflect the fact that the article is only an interlude between the religious works which now comprise Kierkegaard's main task".