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Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) seldom left his native city, Copenhagen, and, except for two brief visits to Berlin, never left Denmark. The externals of his life were rather ordinary for the son of a wealthy hosier. He always employed at least one servant and dressed in the best of fashion, but his death found him with the last of his income in his pocket. He was a lonely man seeking only one or two intimate friends, passing the daily pleasantries with everyone, but warding off with his masterful use of irony most of those who tried to befriend him. When he asked for and received the ridicule of a local scandal journal, his slightly twisted frame — he had an injury of the spine — became his trade mark because of the journal's cartoons. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

An excerpt from The Journals of Soren Kierkegaard has been removed due to copyright restrictions. A later edition of this work is available here.


This is a part of Section XXIII: Theological Meaning. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.