Fear and Trembling (1843)

In Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard examines the angest (anxiety) faced by Abraham when God orders him to sacrifice his son Isaac to test his faith. Kierkegaard may have been using Abraham’s ordeal to examine his own decision to break off his relationship with Regine Olsen, his fiancé. Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling pseudonym, “Johannes de Silentio,” is an allusion to a Grimms’ fairy tale character who is turned to stone for attempting to warn his master and may represent the author’s suspicion that his own words would go unheeded.

The Sickness Unto Death (1849)

The Sickness Unto Death offers one of the clearest and most concise statements of Kierkegaard’s views on religious faith. Presumably, Kierkegaard’s point with The Sickness Unto Death was to encourage us to pursue faith. Yet many readers feel that Kierkegaard leaves us with more questions than answers. As Kierkegaard repeatedly stresses, his vision of Christian faith defies rational understanding. What does it mean to have an individual relationship with God? How would we know if we have such a relationship? Kierkegaard cannot answer these questions. He can only urge us to pursue them on our own through introspective reflection. One of his last works, The Sickness Unto Death was written under the pseudonym “Anti-Climacus.” 

Popular pages: Selected Works of Søren Kierkegaard