Divine Suspense: On Kierkegaard's Frygt og Bæven and the Aesthetics of Suspense

Project: Dissertation

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Philosophy
  • Religious Studies


  • Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Philosophy of Religion, Aesthetics, Suspense, Paradox of Suspense, Faith, Narrativity, Mikhail Bakhtin


This is a study about the concept of suspense, and about Søren Kierkegaard's Frygt og Bæven (hereafter ‘FB’). The study outlines a novel, philosophical conception of suspense, it then demonstrates that suspense, so understood, is a central feature of the concept of faith outlined in FB and, furthermore, a central feature of how FB is rhetorically composed. The study argues, therefore, that suspense is central to both how FB describes faith, and to how this description textually unfolds: in other words, that a symmetry of suspense exists between the conceptual and the rhetorical.

Layman's description

In what circumstances do we feel suspense and why? How do we account for what seems to be a natural connection between suspense and narratives – between suspense and the joy of reading? This dissertation explores the issue of suspense from a philosophical point of view, and then utilizes the theory of suspense that it creates to cast a new light upon Søren Kierkegaard's Frygt og Bæven (hereafter 'FB'). The study argues that faith, as Kierkegaard conceptualizes it in FB, is defined through suspense; moreover that suspense also is a feature of how this conceptualization is textually communicated. Thus, that there exists a symmetry of suspense between form and content in FB.
Short titleDivine Suspense
Effective start/end date2012/09/032016/12/09