Soren Kierkergaard in Diary of a Seducer offers us a personal but extremely profound vision of love and the feelings of man. It is said to be the result of a relationship he had with a young woman named Regina Olsen.
Summary and Synopsis
The book describes the experiences that occur in the relationship between Cordelia and Johannes. The first is a very young and manageable girl, while the second looks for the proper way to woo her.
It seemed that it was not a question of finding a story properly, but the arrangement of the letters gave rise to understand this. Frequently, the seducer expresses the satisfaction of knowing that his methods work with Cordelia.
He makes us see how he manipulates Cordelia by leading her to always think what he wants and trying to be at least two steps ahead of her so that his plan works. At first not much happens, it begins in the spring and with the vision of Cordelia getting out of a carriage, it is the moment when he chooses her.
Then, as he begins to chase her everywhere, he writes in terrible detail every little move Cordelia makes. Enjoying its slow progress. Discover her name, the members of her family (her sisters and her aunt), among other details. Then she thinks that the fastest way to get to Cordelia is through her aunt who is won over by her charm.
Not content with this, he approaches Edward, another Cordelia suitor whom he encourages to woo her, only to later eventually end up disappointed and losing interest. Thus becoming his ally to conquer the young girl.
One day Johannes proposes to her, although Cordelia does not answer, her aunt approves of it enormously. Being engaged, Johannes tries to confuse Cordelia and make her doubt the commitment, using distancing techniques, causing her to persecute him, increasing the state of anguish and passion that reigns in the young woman.
Johannes is totally successful in what he does. The diary is constantly interrupted by notes that he sends to Cordelia, sometimes with an explanation and sometimes just to keep track. Some are impersonal and others are supplicants. Little by little he manages to suggest the young woman to reject the idea of marriage.
Between long reflections on existence, emotions, virginity and eroticism, and above all, the existence of “the aesthetic man”, he considers that the girl is no longer interesting to him. In the autumn, in a masterful and silent way, she manages to break Cordelia herself. And then make sure you don’t have time to reflect on this.
He ends the newspaper reflecting on how to poeticize himself, based on the vision of a young woman, almost a girl, managed by him.
Genre: Epistolary / Philosophical
Diary of a seducer has in itself elements of a very diverse nature that make it difficult for us to enclose it in a single box and assign it to a specific literary genre.
If we go by the type of narration, we can say that it is documentary or epistolary in nature since its structure is built in the form of letters, notes and personal notes.
However, due to the form of the content, rather than narrating the manipulations of Johannes to Cordelia, the author enters into a deep, very personal reflection that leads to talking about the aesthetics of life and its existentialist character (Let us remember that Soren is recognized for developing the existentialist thought). Reason why one enters a deep philosophical character, more than narrative.
- Johannes: He is a very intelligent and manipulative man. She is much older than Cordelia and through her knowledge of life she seeks to conquer it. It could be said that he plans almost wickedly and with extreme precision what he will do with Cordelia.
- Cordelia: a very pretty, fickle young woman who is entering adolescence. Almost a girl. Johannes leads her into a tormented relationship with him where she is handled without even noticing.
- Edward: a young boy who also tries to pretend to Cordelia but doesn’t know how to approach her. It is also a key part of the game that Johannes creates when he becomes his accomplice.
- Aunt: She is the one who has taken care of raising Cordelia and who gives consent for her and Johannes to marry when she is enchanted with the boy’s personality.
This newspaper is one of the best works of Kierkegaard. It seems to be about very personal issues that occurred in your life. Before writing it, it seems like he had finished a year-long engagement to a lady younger than him named Regina Olsen.
When they meet, Regina was apparently fourteen and he was twenty-four. After three years of courtship, she rejects the young man’s proposal, but her father does approve. Later, they end their engagement.
Diary of a seducer is said to be an attempt by the writer to make himself look like a bad man and make the breakup easier for the young woman to bear.
It is an exciting combination of eloquence and intelligence. Despite how scandalous it can be for someone of his age to seduce a young girl, he manages to drive his thoughts exactly as he wants, he manages to fill her with passion, anguish and desire, getting what he can from her.
Of course, this is all an extremely selfish conquest, as she never asks about Cordelia’s goals. He always seeks to master it, either intellectually or by leading his life.
He reflects a lot on “the aesthetic man” and how his life is clouded and carried by the whirlwind of immediacy and the sensual, fast and pleasant enjoyment of seduction. He says that he is a victim of his own instincts, however he continues to emphasize that only he himself is responsible for his own actions.
It is a book that basically talks in an ironic, bizarre and somewhat twisted way of how to keep the spark in a relationship, but not in the conventional way.
Phrases from the book
“We must live any love, with such perfect intensity as to always evoke at our will a mental image that contains all beauty.”
“Love is beautiful, only while the contrast and desire last; afterwards, everything is weakness and habit. ”
“Any girl is an Ariadne to her master’s labyrinth: she has in her hands the thread that can lead her, but she does not know how to use it.”