By Stephen Backhouse
Published by Zondervan
Reviewed by Ally Barber, an intern for Dreaming Big Publications
ABOUT THE BOOK
Discover a new understanding of Kierkegaard’s thought and his life, a story filled with romance, betrayal, humor, and riots.
Kierkegaard, like Einstein and Freud, is one of those geniuses whose ideas permeate the culture and shape our world even when relatively few people have read their works. That lack of familiarity with the real Kierkegaard is about to change.
This lucid new biography by scholar Stephen Backhouse presents the genius as well as the acutely sensitive man behind the brilliant books. Scholarly and accessible, Kierkegaard: A Single Life introduces his many guises—the thinker, the lover, the recluse, the writer, the controversialist—in prose so compelling it reads like a novel.
One chapter examines Kierkegaard’s influence on our greatest cultural icons—Kafka, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Camus, and Martin Luther King Jr., to name only a few. A useful appendix presents an overview of each of Kierkegaard’s works, for the scholar and lay reader alike.
5 out of 5 stars
Søren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher and theologian who today is viewed as the first existentialist philosopher. His work has been incredibly influential and has managed to permeate our thought processes without many people even knowing who he is. In Kierkegaard: A Single Life, Stephen Backhouse, a scholar of religion, history, and theology, attempts (and succeeds) to give an accessible and interesting account of the life, works, and personality of the incredible man that was more than just a philosopher. As Backhouse explores in the preface to the book, Kierkegaard’s philosophy was immensely complicated and can be easily liked and discounted by different groups of thinkers and people, depending on their preconceptions. Because of this, Backhouse asserts, Kierkegaard’s exact influence on our current culture is difficult to fully understand. Kierkegaard seeks to humanize the man whose philosophy is so complicated and important to our culture.
Prior to reading Backhouse’s wonderful biography, I knew very little about Kierkegaard other than his name. However, after reading this illuminating book, I find myself fascinated with the philosophy and the man behind it. Backhouse truly succeeds in creating an illuminating and accessible biography for the general public as a means to make more people aware of Kierkegaard’s influence on our culture. I found myself utterly drawn into the life of such an intelligent and enigmatic man. Overall, Stephen Backhouse’s Kierkegaard: A Single Life is a wonderful and illuminating biography of a philosopher that will leave the reader eager to learn more about Søren Kierkegaard.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen Backhouse is the Lecturer in Social and Political Theology at St Mellitus College, London. He has published a number of books and articles on religion, history, national identity and Kierkegaard. Originally from Canada, he now lives in the United Kingdom, with extended time in the United States.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for writing a review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.