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Introduction: Kierkegaard’s life, context, and legacy
chapterposted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by A Buben, E Helms, Patrick StokesPatrick Stokes
Kierkegaard’s life and authorial career are deeply unusual, even eccentric, by the standards of both his age and our own. Yet Kierkegaard is also very much a product of a quite particular place and moment in European history. His life fits snugly within the period known to us now as the Danish Golden Age, an era of dramatic cultural, intellectual, scientific, political, and artistic flourishing bookended by twin national humiliations: the bombardment of Copenhagen by the British in 1807, and the loss of the southern provinces to Prussia after the Second Schleswig War in 1865. It was a period that produced its share of problematic geniuses, from the brilliant but insufferable Hans Christian Andersen to the restless political and religious energy of N. F. S. Grundtvig and the cultural dominance of Johann Ludvig Heiberg. Thanks in large part to the last figure, Kierkegaard was also both the product and chief critic of a philosophical and theological milieu in which the philosophy of G. F. W. Hegel was exerting an increasing, though never total, hegemony on Danish intellectual life.