The Seducer's Diary Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Seducer's Diary.
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The Seducer's Diary Summary & Study Guide Description

The Seducer's Diary Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Seducer's Diary by Søren Kierkegaard.

While The Seducer's Diary is a work of non-fiction, great 19th century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard often writes like a novelist. His philosophical points made under guises, where he takes on multiple personalities and perspectives. He largely asks questions and raises issues to bring his reader to a higher level of consciousness, rather than imposing a view himself.

The Seducer's Diary is part of Kierkegaard's first major work, Either/Or, a two-volume collection of papers. It appears to concern issues of a personal nature in his life. Just prior to the writing of much of Either/Or, Kierkegaard has ended a year-long engagement with a woman named Regine Olsen, a decade younger than he was. Everyone thought they were happy from the outside and their marriage was to unite two wealthy Copenhagen households.

When Kierkegaard first met Regine, he soon thereafter decided to stalk her and this information is recorded elsewhere in his work. Kierkegaard had met Regine when he was twenty-four and she was fourteen. He watched her for three years and at twenty-seven he made an abrupt proposal to her, which she rejected; but her father consented later.

The engagement was difficult because Kierkegaard suffered from a violent sort of depression and eventually he gave her back her right, although Regine resisted. The engagement lasted two more months, but with the request of her father, Regine finally ended the engagement. A year later, to Kierkegaard's horror, Regine married and he never forgave himself.

The Seducer's Diary is Kierkgaard's attempt to make things right. The diary is an attempt to paint himself as a bad man and make the break-up easier on Regine. It would have 'clarify her out of the relationship' or to repel her. The book has a deceptive purpose. Kierkegaard represents himself as Johannes and Regine as Cordelia Wahl.

The Seducer's Diary covers a shorter period than the relationship, April to September. Many of the entries are sequential, but towards the end the diary entries fade out. In the very beginning a few letters from Cordelia are enclosed but this is only from the man who finds the diary in the story. The vast majority of the book is the observations of Johannes on how to seduce Cordelia and how he brings his plan to fruition. Then, it presents him ending the engagement for bizarre reasons.

Throughout the book, Kierkegaard paints himself as obsessed with the abstract, with manipulating Cordelia such that she falls perfectly in love with him and he even used a friend, Edward, to bring this about. During their engagement, he writes her letters to teach her about the nature of the erotic and continually comments on the nature of love, relationships and the like. All in all, it is hard to keep track of which events in the Seducer's Diary represent something real, which represent something false, and which represent something in between. That said, it is, overall, a book intended to deceive.

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