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Kierkegaard and the Legitimacy of the Comic


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Table of Contents

Introduction Part I. Kierkegaard's Conception of the Comic Chapter 1. Kierkegaard's Conception of the Comic Set Forth Chapter 2. Kierkegaard's Conception of the Comic Illustrated in Other Works Part II. Kierkegaard's Comic Legacy Chapter 3. Irony and Deconstructionist Readings of Kierkegaard Chapter 4. Theology and Kierkegaard's Conception of the Comic Conclusion Bibliography

About the Author

Will Williams is lecturer at Baylor University


Williams's volume is much more than a monograph about Kierkegaard's understanding of the comic; it is a springboard to the exploration of the importance of the comic in theology and the life of faith. Williams cogently argues that in Kierkegaard's pages the comic is exceedingly earnest business. Theologians have often have obscured Kierkegaard's use of the comic by focusing on his overtly religious earnestness, while deconstructionists have ignored his earnestness by concentrating on his playful and seemingly indeterminate literary tropes. But, as Williams shows, far from being opposites, earnestness and the comic require one another. Kierkegaard uses the comic to expose unrecognized contradictions between worldly, ethical, and Christian norms, and to sensitize readers to the incommensurability of inner aspirations and outward performance. By doing so, the comic weans us away from worldliness and edges us close to humility and repentance. We must thank Williams for reminding us that learning to laugh wisely is crucial to our religious formation. -- Lee Barrett, Henry and Mary Stager Professor of Theology, Lancaster Theological Seminary
Will Williams's Kierkegaard and The Legitimacy of the Comic is clear, comprehensive, replete with compelling examples, and rigorously argued. And yet, like Kierkegaard, who maintained that humor and seriousness go hand-in-hand, Williams is able to leaven his convincing interpretive work with a light touch of humor. A scholarly work that is a delight to read is something of a rarity, and so is this book. -- Gordon Marino, St. Olaf College
In this ambitious text, Williams boldly makes the case that "the comic" is no passing fancy in Kierkegaard's thought; he masterfully demonstrates that it is a concept consistently employed both diagnostically and constructively in the service of cultivating ethical and religious existence. In short, this is a book that profoundly illuminates Kierkegaard's thought and, at the same time, so much about the world today. -- Paul Martens, Baylor University

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