The Neither/nor of the Second Sex: Kierkegaard on Women, Sexual Difference, and Sexual Relations

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Mercer University Press, 2008 - Philosophy - 285 pages
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This is a comprehensive and critical account of Kierkegaard's thoughts on women, sexual difference, and men-women relations. Although Kierkegaad provided many a puzzle for his biographers, one would be wrong to assume he invariably lied when he claimed to be telling the truth. Tying Kierkegaad's baffling misogyny, and ultimately his misogamy, to the existence of an inner mysterium, ""The Neither/Nor of the Second Sex"" navigates between the Charybdis of an allegedly insurmountable gulf between works and biography and the Scylla of the biographical fallacy, a peril whose threat raised greater alarms in Kierkegaard. Celine Leon draws her conclusions by paying close attention to the texts and by carefully distinguishing between author and pseudonyms. She only brings works and life together when Kierkegaard ambivalently plays with the former in order to impart something of the secret lying at the core of his being, to reverse Sartre's famous formulation, to communicate at the heart of hiddenness. Leon shows how Kierkegaard - a writer whose views on other subjects she holds in high regard - projected his lack onto a particular woman, Regina Olsen, his one-time fiancee and lifelong obsession, then onto all women, and ultimately, regarding his own exceptional status as normative, elected to ban the heterosexual relation altogether. This is not, however, the same as saying that - notwithstanding the religious development and the enormous production whose twin onset he ascribed to the rupture with Regina-Kierkegaard did not do so at an egregious personal cost.

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About the author (2008)

CELINE LEON coedited (with Sylvia Walsh) Feminist Interpretations of Soren Kierkegaard (1997). Her many articles on the subject of French existentialism have appeared both in France and the United States. She has presented scholarly papers on various subjects at national and international colloquia (Sorbonne, Oxford University, Trinity College, Dublin, University of Copenhagen) and is the recipient of two NEH grants.

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