A Wound Masked As a Boast OK, was thrown into an inverted Faust here, but with Faust helping Mephistopheles in his conquests!
What I find especially interesting is that this short piece is essential to his work since eventually Regine (the fictional Cordelia)became his muse. . Even if Kierkegaard discovered through his experience with Regine the secret of indirect communication and claimed that THE SEDUCER'S DIARY was written for her sake and "to repel her." Although I enjoyed this short work and recommend it, I think I'm going to go back to my French exitentialists because they are not lost or entirely buried in their intellect.
John Updike in his introduction to The Seducer's Diary Regine Olsen occupies a central role in Kierkegaard's thought and writings, and indeed a unique position in the history of all of Western philosophy. You need a bit of context to understand The Seducer's Diary: Kierkegaard wrote it shortly after breaking off his engagement to Regine Olsen, having given up the relationship to pursue what he saw as his spiritual calling, and it's universally regarded as his attempt to re-contextualise this event for the heartbroken Olsen, portraying what happened between them as a calculated seduction on his part. To this end, Kierkegaard casts himself as the manipulative narrator, Johannes, while the Regine character is named Cordelia.
I get the impression that Kierkegaard was doing pretty much the same thing with Regine, the girl he was keen on, though in real life the effect seems to have been the opposite; they broke up, and never got back together again. It's not clear to me whether Cohen is explicitly referring to Kierkegaard, but I think that there are too many parallels for it to be a coincidence.
The Seducers Diary is one part of a greater work Either / Or. It is also one of the 20 books in the Penguin Great Loves collection. His diary covers his pursuit of the innocent young Cordelia, even to the point of engagement. What wasn't good: Just because a book is important doesnt mean it is a great read and for me this was certainly true with The Seducers Diary. This is a book that I only finished because I was reading it as one of the 52 and didnt want to give up. Unless someone comes up with a very convincing argument to the contrary, that is the first and last piece of Kierkegaard's work I shall be reading.
Kierkegaard's The Seducer's Diary describes a man (Johannes)'s calculated scheme to seduce a young girl (Cordelia) into falling in love with him. Described by Updike as "a wound disguised as a boast" this novel/essay/diary is elegiac in its cold lack of apology. Is everything wonderful in love simply the gestures of seduction, the play, the production? We can only guess at the solution, and this mystery drives us to madness when we feel that we are in love, or in lust. It is the alternation between presence and absence: when the object is present, it is all hope, it is all future: the seducer does not see him/her as she is, but as a future conquest, a white flag capitulating to his will. Narcissism is all surface: it is a love for the mask that is presented to the world. Why keep a diary of your feats of seduction, if you are interested only in the mortal and ephemeral conquest of the moment? If Johannes wants only the fleeting thrill of seduction, the crystalized moment of victory, then his story is a triumph; but as a love story? Commensurate with his narcissism is an inability to feel deserving of love, of a healthy relationship, a romantic kinship or oneness with another. The Seducer's Diary is neither boast nor apology, it is a wound implicit in the character of Johannes, of Kierkegaard.
How much of the seducer Johannes is in Kierkegaard? In his journals, Kierkegaard mentions his belief that his "melancholy" made him unsuitable for marriage, but his precise motive for ending the engagement remains unclear. But the inner thoughts of Kierkegaard and his motives cannot possible be compared to the diary in my opinion. Maybe Kierkegaard wanted to justify his actions and invented the story to make him look bad. Maybe he wrote in anger after he learned about Regine's marriage to another man. Furthermore the Johannes character is so far away from the author Kierkegaard that it makes it hard for me to believe the story is autobiographical at all. Or, to put it the other way: Kierkegaard lets an alter ego write a book in which an anonymous and fictional character reproduces a diary he found of another fictional character Johannes.
Kierkegaard strongly criticised both the Hegelianism of his time and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Church of Denmark.