Noting the apparent chaos of Søren Kierkegaard's writing, the essay shows that Kierkegaard did, nevertheless, have a highly self-conscious relation to issues of genre, which was a central concern in the aesthetic theory of his critical role model, J. L. Heiberg. Salient features of Heiberg's aesthetics are discussed and their echoes in Kierkegaard's writing illustrated. Kierkegaard is also aware that Heiberg's schema of genres breaks down in the face of modernity and such modern art forms as the novel. Here Mikhail Bakhtin (a reader of Kierkegaard) can help us see a carnivalistic transgression of classical genre definitions at work in Kierkegaard's writing. This, in turn, can be shown to relate to Kierkegaard's fundamental religious concerns and to reflect the carnivalesque destabilization of social, cultural, and artistic forms enacted in the paradoxical figure of the God-man.
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George Pattison; Kierkegaard and Genre. Poetics Today 1 September 2007; 28 (3): 475–497. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-2007-005
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