The Byron Journal

P. L. Møller: Kierkegaard's Byronic Adversary

The Byron Journal (2014), 42, (1), 35–48.

Abstract

This essay argues that Kierkegaard's turn away from (or even against) Lord Byron could be explained in part by the metonymy between Byron and his (Kierkegaard's) contemporary, Peder Ludvig Møller, in that both served as models for the philosopher's fictional character Johannes the Seducer. After Kierkegaard boldly challenged The Corsair, a disreputable satirical newspaper on which Møller served as editor, he found himself ridiculed in its pages - and on the streets - for his physical disability. After the Corsair affair, the best Kierkegaard could do to avenge himself on the well-built Møller was to degrade his metonym, Byron, to an example of a Rochesterian ‘disabled debauchee’ in a pointed journal entry. Here Kierkegaard ignores entirely the powerful body of poetic work over which he once marveled in his papers and published works; instead, his focus shifts to the disabled body of the poet, not in its actuality, but as a sketchy example of a hedonistic cripple.

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Author details

Smith, Troy