Alexander Vinet lived in Switzerland from 1797-1847. He took up Pascal’s Thoughts in his book: Studies on Pascal. He said, “The Thoughts are only the papers on which this great man threw out, from time to time, all that occupied his powerful mind, until the excess of physical malady reduced him to complete inaction, and put, so to speak, the seals upon his genius. Great pains have been taken, and not without success, to reduce these scattered materials, by means of art, into a kind of whole. Sometimes, perhaps, the secret of the writer has been guessed; possibly, in certain cases, his intention has been entirely misunderstood. It may sometimes be asked, in the course of the perusal of these fragments, whether this or that passage were intended as it is supposed to have been, or whether its intention were not exactly the contrary.” This situation was perfectly illustrated in Soren Kierkegaard’s book, Either/or part 1 and later in Stages on Life’s Way.
Victor Emerita found some papers in a new desk he bought. One set was very meticulous but the writing slovenly while the other was written on ruled paper. Victor had to put the papers into order for the first part just like the editors of Pascal’s Pensees, or Thoughts, had to do.
Vinet wondered what part of Pascal’s great work was Pascal’s and what part was edited in as a remark of the man’s opponent or the thoughts of someone else. Such things happen with these kinds of works. Pascal’s fragments have become a work of much repute in scholarly fields as has Kierkegaard’s 1843 work, Either/or.
Kierkegaard used the same technique two years later in his book Stages on Life’s Way. Here Hilarius Bookbinder, the pseudonymous author of the book, gets a book from Mr. Literatus who wanted to get a book bound at his shop and left the papers without ever returning. He said, “that a bookbinder stitches together, guides through the press, and publishes a book so that he “might be able to benefit his fellow men in some other way than as a bookbinder,’ no fair-minded reader will take amiss.” Later he goes fishing in Soborg Lake and catches a box containing the papers titled Guilty/Not Guilty. He posted this: “Notice is hereby given to the owner of the box found in Soborg Lake in the summer of 1844 to communicate with me through Reitzel’s bookstore by means of a sealed note marked with the initials F. T.” No one replied so the book was bound and printed. Kierkegaard used the pseudonym Frater Taciturnus for this part of his book.
Stages on Life’s Way was published one day after Kierkegaard had published Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions under his own name; (Discourses) April 29, 1945 and (Stages) April 30, 1845. Each of these books were divided into three parts. These have been delineated the aesthetic, ethical, and religious stages of life by scholars. The first part of the discourses in a confession and the last part of stages deals with guilt. He had published Either/or before his Two Discourses in 1843, the pseudonym before the work in his own name now he has published the reverse in 1845. He wanted people to read his religious works.
Here are a few readings I did from these two books.
Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions was translated by Howard Hong but David F. Swenson translated it first as Thoughts on Crucial Situations in Human Life.
Kierkegaard wrote In Vino Veritas in imitation of Plato’s Symposium.
Guitly/not Gulty was a long diary in imitation of Young’s Night Thoughts.