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Muriel Spark, Existentialism and The Art of Death$
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Cairns Craig

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474447201

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474447201.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Kierkegaard: The Limits of the Aesthetic

Kierkegaard: The Limits of the Aesthetic

(p.65) Chapter 3 Kierkegaard: The Limits of the Aesthetic
Muriel Spark, Existentialism and The Art of Death

Cairns Craig

Edinburgh University Press

The ‘aesthetic’ is, for Kierkegaard, the condition in which most people live, a condition he explores through his ‘pseudonymous’ writings, in which his text is supposedly the product of an author other than himself. By such indirection, Kierkegaard is able both to work within the ‘aesthetic’ in his creation of a work of fiction and, at same time, to critique it. It was a technique first developed in ‘The Seducer’s Diary’ section of Either/Or, whose plot is recapitulated in Spark’s The Bachelors. Kierkegaard’s fear of the power of the aesthetic is repeated in Spark’s novels, in which characters like Patrick Seton in The Bachelors or Jean Brodie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie try to aestheticise the world in which they live in order to gain control over it. The aesthetic offers them a false sense of having escaped from time into eternity, an escape that their author resists even when she herself cannot escape the aesthetic medium of her art.

Keywords:   Kierkegaard, aesthetic, seducer, Bachelors, Brodie

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