D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on Kierkegaard

First Period: Works of Youth (1834-42)

Public Confession

  • Public Confession
  • Aabenbart Skriftemaal
  • June 12, 1842
  • KW13, SKS13, Fædrelandet 904

Though this work appears very early among Kierkegaard's writings, already we see the authorial distance that would distinguish his theory of authorship. Some of his early pseudonymous articles had been attributed to him. This article afforded him the opportunity to deny his responsibility for them. He argues that just as it is irksome to receive blame for what one has not done, it is equally irksome to receive unmerited praise.

So here I stand, face to face with the reading public in this momentous moment: I acknowledge my frailty, I have not written anything, not one line; I confess my weakness, I have no part in the whole thing or any part of it—no part at all, not even the slightest (p. 4).

Pseudonymity and anonymity were common enough in the literary 19th century, but Kierkegaard's use of pseudonymity was most peculiar. (For a fuller explanation see Kierkegaard's Authorial Method.) The articles that he refers to are from his student days during the 1830's. One of these earliest articles uses the pseudonym A and two others use the pseudonym B, which Kierkegaard would return to in his major work Either/Or. Thus "Public Confession" is noteworthy because it indicates just how early Kierkegaard shaped his authorial purpose.

...I beg the good people who show an interest in me never to regard me as the author of anything that does not bear my name (p. 5).