Divine Suspense

On Kierkegaard's "Frygt og Baeven" and the Aesthetics of Suspense

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Andreas Seland
Kierkegaard Studies
  • Berlin, Germany: 
    De Gruyter
    , July
     300 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by David Greder forthcoming.


What is suspense, and why do we feel it? These questions are at the heart of the first part of this study. It develops and defends the ‘imminence theory of suspense’ – the view that suspense arises in situations that are structurally defined by something essential being imminent. 

Next, the study utilizes this theory as an interpretative key to Søren Kierkegaard’s seminal work ‘Frygt og Bæven’ (‘FB’). FB is an exploration of what it means to take the story of Abraham and Isaac as a paradigmatic example of faith. The study argues that a core aspect of how Kierkegaard conceptualizes faith through the figure of Abraham is suspense. The argument is built upon the observation that to have faith is to be a hero. To be hero means to belong to a story. Stories manifests different conceptualizations of time. Abraham’s story, as FB frames it, is radically geared towards something imminent – it is characterized by an essential relation of suspense. 

The study then explores how suspense not only forms part of the conceptualization of faith, but is also part of how this conceptualization is communicated. Thus, the study argues that there exists a symmetry of suspense between the rhetorical and the conceptual levels of the text.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Andreas Seland is a graduate student at the Center for Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University in Oslo, Norway.


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