Soren Kierkegaard and Short Fiction Masters: Anxiety for the Ages
The modern world is tied to the past no matter how much it may try to extricate itself. No one demonstrates this connection more than Soren Kierkegaard. This seminar is for anyone who wants to explore the full expanse of influences on the modern experience and to understand the contribution Kierkegaard made to it.
John has led seminars for nearly 40 years as a teacher at Benedictine University and Morton College and as a discussion leader for the Great Books Foundation. John’s “Contemporary World” humanities courses focused on the intersection between 19th-century philosophy and the rise of modernism.
Fear and Trembling and Sickness Unto Death by Soren Kierkegaard; translated by Walter Lowrie
(Princeton University Press;
Revised edition April 28, 2013)
To facilitate text references during the seminar, please obtain this edition.
The following works are freely available online. PDFs or links will be provided upon registration. They are listed here in order of presentation:
Kafka, “The Hunger Artist”
Borges, “The Lottery in Babylon”
Ibsen, A Doll’s House
Tolstoy, “God Sees the Truth But Waits”
O’Connor, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
Believers and atheists, idealists and pessimists, romantics and anarchists, all have fallen under the spell of Soren Kierkegaard. How did he attract such a disparate following? By uniting the forces of Christian faith with the often cruel, existential facts of life on earth. Kierkegaard’s thinking fired the imagination of many 19th- and 20th-century writers of fiction whose characters express an inescapable sense of loss, regret and anxiety as their value systems collide with their realities.
This seminar begins with an examination of the most important portions of two of Kierkegaard’s most seminal works, Fear and Trembling and Sickness Unto Death. The fruits of this labour will inform discussions of four short stories and one play authored by some of the greatest fiction writers the world has ever known: Kafka, Borges, Ibsen, Tolstoy and Flannery O’Connor. Time will be devoted to comparing the writers’ visions to one another as well as to how each conforms to Kierkegaard’s ideas.
The modern world is tied to the past no matter how much it may try to extricate itself. No one demonstrates this connection more than Soren Kierkegaard. This course is for anyone who wants to explore the full expanse of influences on the modern experience and to understand the contribution Kierkegaard made to it.
“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.”
— Soren Kierkegaard
Toronto Pursuits 2023
See the Toronto Pursuits 2023 page for full details on the program schedule, health and safety, booking your accommodations, terms and conditions, and more.
Concert ticket, Not eligible for discount, Five times, With friend, Gift registration