1 December 2008

A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or drink not the Pierian spring.

(Alexander Pope)

This beautiful quote, lines 215 and 216 in Pope's Essay on Criticism, has been pointed out to me by a number of visitors to Peirene’s website and I would have loved to decorate my nymph with such sparkling words. However, the Pierian spring is in Macedonia and the Peirene source is located in Corinth. They are thus sadly not identical. Nevertheless they are obviously closely related, both sacred to the Muses and sources of poetic inspiration. Therefore, I guess, Pope would not have minded Peirene borrowing his words to dress up in for the festive season. 

So there she is all dressed up for the office Christmas party and what is she doing? She is sitting underneath the Christmas tree and reading Kierkegaard! Not a young handsome man she has chosen there, and you might even say what has HE got to do with contemporary literature. A lot! Not only is he considered the father of Existentialism but read his Diary of a Seducer (recently reprinted by Pushkin Press, 240 pages) and you will find Hannibal Lecter in the making- without the gore and blood but equally chilling.
“Every word is suggestive to her feelings, so I will have the opportunity to insinuate myself into her thoughts.” Johannes is not a Don Juan senselessly clocking up sexual conquests, rather he is an aesthete, fascinated by the method of seduction, carefully planning every step before closing in on his prey. We as a reader are let into his sinister, diabolically clever mind. Not so much a work of philosophy as of brilliant fiction. And if you then got the taste for Søren, you could read the whole of his masterpiece Either –Or (of which Diary of a Seducer forms part of). It is by far the most accessible work of the Dane. However, you might end up missing all the Christmas parties as it is 1000 pages long! And worth every page.

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Meike Ziervogel