Monday, January 25, 2010
Possen, David D. Review of Soren Kierkegaard, CONCLUDING UNSCIENTIFIC POSTSCRIPT TO THE PHILOSOPHICAL CRUMBS. NDPR (January 2010).
Kierkegaard, Soren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs. Ed. and trans. Alastair Hannay. Cambridge: CUP, 2009. There have so far been three discernible phases -- three stages, appropriately enough -- in the enterprise of translating Kierkegaard into English. The first began during the Great Depression, and was something of a religious stage. Its spearhead was Walter Lowrie, an Episcopal minister who cast himself as Kierkegaard's "missionary", and promoted Kierkegaard's vision of faith as a bulwark against liberal theology. The translations of Lowrie and his cohort are marked by a lyrical and solemn enthusiasm, which is often sustained by deft tinkering with the text. A second stage, which it is tempting to call "ethical", was launched in the 1970s by Howard and Edna Hong of St. Olaf College. Its fruit is Kierkegaard's Writings, the comprehensively annotated Princeton edition of Kierkegaard's complete works. The Hongs prized consistency and literal precision, if at times at the expense of English flow. Their books remain indispensable tools for the scholar. This leaves the third and ongoing stage of Kierkegaard translation, which I cannot resist calling "aesthetic". Its main engine is Alastair Hannay, a Scottish-born philosopher recently retired from the University of Oslo. Hannay's offerings are deservedly popular: they are not only highly accurate, but also packaged dextrously for a wide readership. Until now, Hannay's translations -- Fear and Trembling (1985), The Sickness Unto Death (1989), an abridged Either/Or (1992), selections from Kierkegaard's Papers and Journals (1996), and A Literary Review (2001) -- were carried by Penguin. The translation here under review is Hannay's latest, the Concluding Unscientific Postscript, and his first with Cambridge (in the series "Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy"). It is a colossal achievement. . . . Read the whole review here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=18607.