Karen Blixen's "The Poet" and Søren Kierkegaard's 'Gjentagelsen'

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  • Mads Bunch

It is commonly acknowledged within Karen Blixen scholarship that some of Blixen’s tales are literary responses to other works from world literature. In this paper I will argue that the tale “The Poet” from Seven Gothic Tales (1934) should be included in this line-up of responses as a literary response to Søren Kierkegaard’s Gjentagelsen (Repetition) from 1843. Through juxtapositions of quotes and analysis of plot development and character constellations, I will show how Blixen redevelops the plot and reverses the characters from Kierkegaard’s Gjentagelsen. I will pay particular attention to a reoccurring character in Kierkegaard’s production: the elderly bachelor esthete (Constantin Constantius), whom Blixen in “The Poet” exposes as a demonic, yet comical character. I will conclude by pointing out that repetition should be acknowledged as an integral part of Blixen’s poetics, since she consistently repeats archetypal plots and characters from world literature in her works that at the same time are completely new and original, following the dialectics of repetition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Scandinavian Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)165-185
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2014

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Karen Blixen, Isak Dinesen, Comparative Literature, Søren Kierkegaard, Scandinavian Studies, Scandinavian Literature, Danish Literature

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