D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on Kierkegaard

First Period: Works of Youth (1834-42)

Our Journalistic Literature

  • Our Journalistic Literature: A Study from Nature in Noonday Light
  • Vor Journal-Litteratur: Studium efter Naturen i Middagsbelysning
  • 1835
  • KW1, SKS13, SV13

This essay was written for the Student Association, and was not intended for publication. Here Kierkegaard responds to a paper by Johannes Ostermann, also written for the Association. Ostermann argued that the press was responsible for many of the advances in political reform. Kierkegaard's response is to address Ostermann's article directly, and overturn its claims point by point, rather than addressing his larger concerns about the state of journalism. The latter would come years later. In this rebuttal he counters Ostermann, asserting that reform came primarily from Frederick VI.

Kierkegaard concludes that the liberal journalism in papers such as Kjøbenhavnsposten and Fædrelandet "has not been as active as one is perhaps inclined to believe" (p. 52). That papers can rouse people, he does not dispute. That liberal papers have actually been tools of political reform, he denies.

Although I heartily approve brisk action and also reflection, as that which collects and in the instant secures the often dissipated energies and thereby, like the significant silence before the battle, conditions new and vigorous activity, I must, however, just as heartily disapprove of a phenomenon that often assumes the shape of reflection, a certain morbid imagining that hinders both action and true reflection, and if it does allow true reflection to break through for once, and then, if there has been any movement at all, true reflection reveals the past period more as an approach to caricature than to the ideal, the morbid imagination promptly lets a person fall into the same old daydreaming (p. 36f.).

In sum, this paper reflects Kierkegaard's abiding antipathy toward the press, against reform that was merely political in nature, and against the ugly and bloodthirsty aspects that historically have been associated with some political reform, most notably the French Revolution.