Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hannay, Alastair. Review of Clare Carlisle, KIERKEGAARD'S FEAR AND TREMBLING. NDPR (February 2011).

Carlisle, Clare.  Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling: a Reader's Guide.  London: Continuum, 2010.

The Continuum Reader's Guides aim to give "clear and accessible introductions to classic works of philosophy." The author of this Guide makes it clear that she has planned to write an "accessible commentary" on Fear and Trembling. Commentaries and introductions are not the same. Introductions give you the lay of the land, guides (commentaries) are detailed maps that assist progress through the landscape. Like following a scenic route with a map and historical vade mecum, reading Fear and Trembling with a guide book in hand will seem out of place to many. Clare Carlisle's book is full of useful information and fruitful reflection, but it would be a shame to offer it to someone who has yet to read Fear and Trembling. For others it has much to offer and chew over. Introduction? No.

Carlisle's commentary, forming the second of the book's three chapters ("Reading the Text"), is nearly three times longer than the other two combined. Readers who prefer "a shorter overall discussion" are invited to skip this chapter, moving directly from "Overview of Themes and Context" to "Reception and Influence". Since the outside chapters are, to this reviewer's mind, more open to critical comment than the extended commentary, the main focus here is on these, with only the following brief account of the second chapter. . . .

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