Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Jason D. Solinger

Second Advisor

Donald M. Kartiganer

Third Advisor

Ronald A. Schroeder

Abstract

After enumerating the implicit and explicit references to Lord Byron in the corpus of Søren Kierkegaard, chapter 1, "Kierkegaard and Byron," provides a historical backdrop by surveying the influence of Byron and Byronism on the literary circles of Golden Age Copenhagen. Chapter 2, "Disability," theorizes that Kierkegaard later spurned Byron as a hedonistic "cripple" because of the metonymy between him and his (i.e., Kierkegaard's) enemy Peder Ludvig Møller. Møller was an editor at The Corsair, the disreputable satirical newspaper that mocked Kierkegaard's disability in a series of caricatures. As a poet, critic, and eroticist, Møller was eminently Byronic, and both he and Byron had served as models for the titular character of Kierkegaard's "The Seducer's Diary." Chapter 3, "Irony," claims that Kierkegaard felt a Bloomian anxiety of Byron's influence. By accusing a contemporary of plagiarizing his pseudonymous books in a dissertation on Byron, Kierkegaard in fact reveals just how beholden his aesthetic authorship was to the dark and intriguing themes popularized by Byron. Moreover, Kierkegaard ostensibly borrowed personal and philosophical attributes from the ironic narrator of Byron's Don Juan in the creation of his pseudonym Johannes Climacus of the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Kierkegaard would have found in Byron's narrator an example of what he calls "mastered irony," a form of irony he prefers to that of the German romantics. Lastly, Chapter 4, "The Undead," considers the ironical consciousness as a form of living death, and examines Byron's influence on the revenants of Kierkegaard's authorship. By way of a conclusion, disability, irony, and the undead are united in The Sickness unto Death's Byronic figure of demonic despair.

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