User Review - Flag as inappropriate
"Unhappy mirror, which assuredly can grasp her image but not her, who indeed dares to capture her but not to hold her; unhappy mirror, which cannot secretly hide her image in itself, hide it from the whole world, but can only disclose it to others as it now does to me. What torture if a human being were fashioned that way."
John Updike called Kierkegaard's writing "feverishly intellectual" - which almost begins to describe the quality of the writing. The prose of The Seducers Diary (Volume I of Either/Or) has an occasional melodic quality that rises and falls, at times filled with vivid metaphors (like the mirror above), at other times elegant in its simple account. He shifts between painful autobiography and absorbing fiction seamlessly. The intensity of his writing comes not from salacious details, but from an an inventive weaving of allegory and narrative.
Another statement, pulling out of the fiction to speak directly to the reader:
"In a way, one gains in becoming more experienced, for admittedly one loses the sweet disquietude of impatient longing but gains the poise to make the moment really beautiful."
Kierkegaard also speaks sympathetically, even delicately, to the plight of the seduced playing, as it were, both sides of the table:
"When a person has dreamed, he can tell his dream to others, but what she had to tell was indeed no dream; it was actuality, and yet as soon as she was about to tell it to another to ease her troubled mind, it was nothing."
I recommend Either/Or generally, but as this particular book fell into my hands a bit unexpectedly, upon (re)reading it, I think it can stand on its own fairly well. Other reviewers have considered this work to be a bit out-of-date, as it gives account of behavior that is certainly not acceptable in our culture. However, taken in its context (especially within Either/Or), it's perfectly appropriate for the time and for what he was trying to accomplish in his work overall. This is not meant to be a guide for how to seduce, in some cases stalk, a potential lover, though some may take it that way - it is actually a portrayal of the deterioration of the aesthetic life.
"He who goes astray within himself does not have such a large territory in which to move; he soon perceives that it is a circle from which he cannot find an exit."
The fact that this volume is sold apart from the rest of Either/Or does it some disservice by removing it from the context that enriches, even explains, the author's intention. That's the only reason it loses a star for this edition.