“Diary of the seducer” Kierkegaard in brief

“Diary of the seducer” Kierkegaard in brief


The “seducer’s diary” is a part of the most famous book of the Danish philosopher and writer Seren Kierkegaard “Ili-Ili”, sometimes printed and separately, in the form of a novel. In the “Preface” to the book, her imaginary publisher Victor Eremita explains: the notes he publishes are found in the old office he bought on the occasion. In terms of handwriting and content, he divided them into two volumes: the first contained articles and works of “aesthetic character” written, apparently, by one person, whom he conditionally called Mr. A, the second contains the edifying philosophical letters of a certain assessor Wilhelm addressed to this Mr. A.

“Diary” is included in the first “aesthetic” volume attributed to the pen of Mr. A. However, on the first page of his page, Mr. A refuses to write: he only found the diary – in a drawer of a table with his friend Johannes, who left Copenhagen for a few days. The contents of the notebook, entitled “Commentarius perpetuus”, and several rough drafts of letters found in the same box, so impressed Mr. A’s imagination that he decided to rewrite them: he had previously considered a friend as a kind of extraordinary, half-living in the magical world of beauty, separated from reality only by a thin transparent fleur, having become acquainted with his diary, he discovered for himself: the very life of Johannes is a series of conscious attempts on his part to realize the dream of living purely poetically,

More than all Johannes, as evidenced by this diary, are interested in love adventures and girls – an indubitable part of the beautiful. True, the spiritual side that prevails in his nature does not allow him to be satisfied with the low role of an ordinary seducer – it would be too rude – no, in love, or, as Johannes puts it, “erotic” game, he most appreciates the virtuoso possession of it. In fact, judging by Mr. Johannes’s diary, A, most often the ultimate goal of his friend’s persistent harassment turned out to be… just a bow or a smile. However, this is not the case with the main heroine of the diary, Cordelia, whom Mr. A knows very well: she herself gave him letters sent to her by Johannes, as well as several more addressed to Johannes,

The diary opens with Johannes’ notes made in early April. One day his attention was attracted by a graceful girl



jumping off the steps of the carriage. A few days later he meets her strolling along the street, accompanied by a footman. The footman awkwardly falls and is smeared in the mud, and Johannes gallantly escorts the girl to the carriage. A few days later, he meets her again on the street – this time with an elderly woman: the beauty of the girl amazes him, but just a few minutes Johannes can not remember her face, and this torments him, for some reason he wants to remember him be sure,

Johannes is seriously interested. He is looking for a stranger in the streets and in theaters, on the opening days, making long walks around Copenhagen. And then one day he meets her in the evening immediately after sunset at one of the outposts. The girl is standing and looking at the boy fishing in the lake fish for bait. The boy is displeased with her attention. The girl laughs and leaves. Johannes hurriedly follows her and, to look at her, runs ahead and enters one of the houses to look at the girl from the window – and just then he loses it.

But after a few days he meets her again. Johannes sees a stranger in the street in the company of other girls: they call her Cordelia. Johannes follows them and finds out: Cordelia is in the house of Ms. Jansen, her parents have long since died, Cordelia lives with aunt, a woman of virtuous and strict. Johannes joins the house of Mrs. Jansen, and there he is represented by Cordelia, but he does not impress the girl, which is on his hand. From now on he intends to see her only as if by accident, counting, for example, time in such a way as to meet her, entering the house at the moment when she leaves it. His plan is cunning. It is necessary to find Cordelia the groom – a decent and handsome young man, not too, however, distant – in a word, having no comparison with him, Johannes, no chance.

And such a person is quickly located. In Cordelia, the first and trembling love is the son of merchant Baxter Edward. To get acquainted with Edward and win his friendship for Johannes is a mere trifle. He sincerely advises the young man not to be too dreamy and to act more resolutely – rather sigh! Soon they are both regular guests in the house of Aunt Cordelia, and Johannes, Edward’s counselor and accomplice in hearty affairs, distracts his aunt’s attention from a couple, he takes the hostess of the house by talking about agricultural topics. Inattention of Johannes to Cordelia – defiantly offensive: Johannes behaves like an old man; Cordelia feels: there is something wrong, she is intrigued and lets the enamored Edward pass by the ears, listening instead to the “milk poetry” and “cheese dialectic” pseudo-serious conversations of Johannes and his aunt. Although from time to time Johannes screwed into his speech a word-another, from which my aunt grows numb, realizing that they are from another world – philosophy and high poetry. Johannes gradually prepares Cordelia for her future role as a lover: he picks up her books for reading, which, naturally, brings in the house on his behalf Edward, condescends to talk with her about music.

Finally Johannes decides: Edward played his role, he is no longer needed. In the outpouring of his feelings, the young man may lose his measure, break, explain Cordelia in love and thereby complicate and spoil the conceived intrigue. Therefore, Johannes “plays ahead”: he is the first to make Cordelia a proposal of the hand and heart, she does not answer anything, entrusting her decision to the aunt, and that gives her consent with pleasure – thus Johannes and Cordelia are engaged, they are the bride and groom. But Johannes is not going to marry, he has other far-reaching plans, he does not doubt for a minute that he will force Cordelia to break off the engagement and at the same time will win her love. Although he does not pursue possession of it, the main thing for him is “pleasure in the artistic and aesthetic sense.” The struggle for love begins: Johannes retreats, sowing Cordelia an easy victory over himself: he demonstrates his love for her in all its manifestations – in anxiety, passion, melancholy, hope, impatience. He is sure that by showing Cordelia the power of love that owns him, he will convince her: love is a great power, and she will want to fall in love…

Johannes continues the siege: he writes ardent letters full of romantic passion and frank loveful languor, but at the same time, every time he meets Cordelia, he behaves with her with an emphasis on self-control and irony,

Does he really love Cordelia? Yes! Sincerely? Yes. With honest intentions? Yes, in an aesthetic sense. He wants to wake up love in her. But love also takes possession of Johannes himself, and at the same time so much that for the time he refrains from courting, as usual, several girls at once, and changes his principle that “a fisherman needs to throw small fishing-rods just in case on the side “.

Finally Johannes convinces himself: Cordelia is awakened, and he doubles the fervor of the letters: his whole life in them is represented as the myth he creates about Cordelia. According to Johannes, the girl quickly learns the lessons of love – now sometimes she sits down on his lap, her arms gently wrap around his neck. “Her passion can be called naive… when I start to retreat, she will use all her efforts to keep me, and for this she will have only one means – love.” Accordingly, Johannes begins to show coldness: now, when meeting with Cordelia, he lets himself look like a man obsessed with the idea and talking about her all the time, not noticing the bride. In letters he inspires Cordelia with the idea that the engagement binds, binds his feelings, real deep love can only be a secret… And Johannes achieves his: Cordelia returns his word and breaks off the engagement. Her aunt is somewhat puzzled by the news, but she is too liberal to take advantage of her niece, and Johannes is directly sympathetic.

Cordelia is allowed to leave for a few days in the village to friends. Johannes continues to write to her, he strengthens the beloved in contempt for the opinion of the world and convinces her of the greatness of the power of love, reproducing in one of the letters the legend: Alpheus fell in love with hunting in the nymph Aretuzu. She did not want to heed his pleas and flee from him until at last he turned into a source. Alfei so much grieved for her that he himself became a stream. But in his new form, he did not forget his beloved, and he connected himself to an expensive source underground… Is not he, Johannes, now that they are separated from Cordelia, into the dark depths to connect with her?

Johannes carefully prepares the furnishing of the dacha, which must be brought to him by Cordelia. It’s the same place as in the house of Aunt Cordelia, a tea table, the same lamp on the table-but everything is much more luxurious. And in the living room there is the same piano, like the one on which Cordelia played the Swedish folk song at one point, when Johannes invisible to her admired her appearance.

The last entry in the “Diary” is dated September 25. It’s all over: Johannes does not want to see Cordelia any more. Once the girl gave herself up, she lost everything. “Alas, passed the time when the deceived girl could turn from grief into heliotrope!”

Johannes now is interested in the question: is it possible to “poetically get out of the girl’s heart” so as to leave in her a proud certainty that she left a seducer, and not he?



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“Diary of the seducer” Kierkegaard in brief