Kierkegaard, International Kierkegaard, JP, rem, Rousseau, childhood, Peter Pan, child, Augustine, naughty children, International Kierkegaard Commentary, Heinrich Heine, original sin, Kierkegaard Commentary, seventeenth century, sixteenth century, St. Augustine, Peter Hollindale, Romantic poets, children shows, Romantic School, punishing children, William Blake
11 The Child and Kierkegaard's "One Who Loves": The Agapic Flip Side o f Peter Pan
Eric Ziolkowski W hile Kierkegaard scholars routinely discuss the crucial bear ing of his unusual childhood, and especially his early relationship with his father, upon his later development as a thinker and w riter,1surprisingly little attention is devoted to the significance of the child as a type in his published works, both pseudonym ous and nonpseudonym ous, as well as in his journals. The im port of this subject is hinted at in the brief note to the eight entries on childhood and children, dating from 1837 to 1849, com piled in the H ong edition of the Journals: "In connection with his illum ination of the various steps in the developm ent of the individual, Kierke gaard considers the period of childhood in some detail. Through his own experience in childhood he knew how important this por tion of life is for a person's later developm ent" (JP, 1:509). That Kierkegaard was, in the H ongs' words, "a keen observer of ch ild ren " (JP, 1, p. 510), is already apparent in a jou rnal entry of 1837 where, reacting to a recent essay by Poul M. M шller on Telling stories
to children,2 he elaborates thoughts of his own about childhood and about the sort of storytelling he deems appropriate for children (JP, 1:265). In an entry twelve years later on Galatians 1In the standard biographies such discussions often involve declarations to the effect that "if ever the child was father of the man, it was in this instance" (W alter Lowrie, A Short Life o f Kierkegaard [Princeton NJ: Princeton University
Press, 1965] 54); or that his childhood relationship with his father, "above all, made him the man he later became; the shadow of Michael Pedersen Kierkegaard was cast across the whole path of his life" (Josiah Thompson, Kierkegaard [New York: Alfred A. Knopf
, 1973] 33). 2"O m at fortaelle Bш rn Eventyr" (1836-1837), in Poul M. Mшller, Efterladte Skrifter, 3 vols. (Copenhagen: Reitzel, 1839-1843) 3:322-25.
International Kierkegaard Commentary
4:1-7, Kierkegaard invokes the child to illustrate the G od-relation ship. After observing our progression from first being "slaves under the law ," to then becom ing "children," then finally "children who cry Abba, Father, and co-heirs of Christ," he concludes that there is an increasing openness in relation to God. But it is not like the relationship between adults and children, in which the openness comes after the child has grown up; here it is the reverse-- one does not begin as a child but as a slave, and the openness increases as one becomes more and more a child. (JP, 1:272) Singled out by the Hongs as representative of the m any allu sions to the child that are found in K ierkegaard's w ritings, these two journal entries would furnish helpful starting points for a deeper investigation of the use of children by him and his pseudo nyms. Although differently nuanced insights into children are arrived at in each of his works, my ultim ate aim in what follows will be to exam ine the specific use of the child figure in Works o f Love, w hose appearance in 1847 fell betw een the years of the two entries above. As we shall see, the perspective conveyed by Works o f Love toward childhood, like those expressed in Kierkegaard's other writings, displays a distinctive dialectical oscillation between Positive and Negative
attitudes, thus befitting the maieutic aim peculiar to his entire corpus. H owever, as the conception of childhood as a stage sui generis in a hum an being's life appears to be a relatively recent develop m ent in W estern intellectual and cultural history, the extensive usage of the child as a type throughout Kierkegaard's oeuvre crystallizes what was in his time still a relatively new, developing Christian tendency of perceiving children as creatures endowed w ith a psychology distinct from that of adults, and hence with m inds that will respond differently from adult m inds to the central doctrines and images of Christian faith
. For this reason, before we exam ine the em ploym ent of the child as a type in Works o f Love, it will be beneficial first, briefly, to consider the general history of reflection on the child in the Christian W est, concentrating on the views of Jesus, St. Paul, St. Augustine
, and Rousseau as chief points of reference; and then, again briefly, to locate Kierkegaard and his pseudonym s in their relationship to that history.
Works of Love
Bipolar Western Views o f Childhood Today, notw ithstanding the not-so-rare news stories of terrible crimes com m itted by children, such as the 1993 abduction and slaying of tw o-year-old Jam es Bulger by a pair of ten-year-old boys in Liverpool, England, or the m ore recent proliferation of fatal shootings in Am erican High School
s by students sixteen years old and younger, the conventional notion of childhood still approxi m ates the one sum m ed up by the entry on "C h ild " in The Herder Dictionary o f Symbols: A sym bol of spontaneity and innocence, qualities alluded to in the New Testam ent ("Except ye be converted and becom e as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 18:3).3 This declaration by Christ (cf. M ark 10:15; Luke 18:17), together with his teaching that the kingdom of heaven "belongs" to "su ch" as children (M att. 19:14; M ark 10:14; Luke 18:16), m ight seem to dissociate them from A dam 's guilt and to defy A ristotle's idea of the child as an "im p erfect" being w hose "excellence is not relative to him self alone, but to the perfect man and to his teacher."4 To be sure, while he praises children for their humbleness, Jesus him self never characterizes them as perfect or innocent; if he privileges them in the order of salvation, he does not explicitly do so because of any inherent spiritual qualities
or dispositions.5 Yet these facts have mattered little, as Jesus has often been mistaken as the source of the clichйd Rom antic notion of children as little innocents. Directly related to the popular m isunderstanding of Jesus' exaltation of children is the com m on assum ption that the tradition al Christian view of them has always been identical with his view. In actuality, although Jesus' association of children w ith hum ility 3The Herder Dictionary o f Symbols: Symbols from Art, Archaeology, Mythology, Literature, and Religion (W ilm ette IL: Chiron Publications, 1986) 37. 4Aristotle, Politics, trans B. Jow ett, 2.1260a.31-33, in The Complete Works o f Aristotle, 2 vols., ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984) 2:2000. 5As noted by S. Lйgasse, Jйsus et l'enfant: "Enfants," "petits" et "simples" dans la tradition synoptique (Paris: J. Gabalda, 1969) 340.
International Kierkegaard Commentary
and salvation is supported by 1 Peter 2:2 ("Like new born babes, long for the pure spiritual m ilk, that by it you m ay grow up to salvation"), his positive assessment of them finds stiff opposition elsew here in the New Testam ent, particularly in the famous analogy invoked by St. Paul to illustrate his own religious conversion: "W hen I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I becam e a man, I gave up childish w ay s" (1 Cor. 13:11). For Paul, abandoning "ch ild ish w ays" connotes recognizing that knowledge and the capacity to convey it prophetically or in tongues are faulty, and hence are less valuable gifts than faith, hope, and love. Seeming to assume the Aristotelian notion of the child as an imperfect being whose "excellence" is relative to the perfect man, he has already subm it ted that "w h en the perfect com es, the im perfect w ill pass aw ay " (1 Cor. 13:10). Here "the perfect" means spiritual m aturity, or becom ing "a m an," while "the im perfect" means spiritual infancy, or "child ish w ays." Paul is essentially urging his readers to grow up, and to stop thinking like little children (see 1 Cor. 14:20). Paul's prom otion of the spiritual superiority of adulthood over childhood corresponds to his figural understanding of the first man, Adam, through whose transgression humankind inherited sin, condem nation, and death, as the "typ e" of Christ, the second Adam who acquits, justifies, and restores hum ankind to life (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45-49). O f all stages of life, infancy and childhood would seem the ones most closely linked to Original Sin
, as every infant born is an heir of A dam 's fallenness and can only hope to be redeem ed by converting later in life to faith in Christ, as Paul him self was converted on the road to Damascus. If the views expressed by Jesus and Paul established two main, opposed poles of opinion between which subsequent Christian attitudes toward children could develop, it was Paul's perspective, not Jesus', that conditioned Christian thinking about children for well over the next m illennium and a half. However, not Paul, but A ugustine w as chiefly responsible for this legacy. It is in A ugus tine's writings, most notably the opening books of his Confessions, that the im plicit Pauline linkage of infancy and childhood with Adam ic sin first achieves full and explicit expression. An astute ponderer of babies, he believed that the earliest evidence of sin is detectable in their behavior, and consequently that all unbaptized
Works of Love
children, even if born o f the faithful, perish (pereunt).6 H aving seen that an infant, even when fully fed, would becom e angry and jealous at seeing another infant at its m other's breast, he concluded that "it is not the mind of infants that is 'innocent,' but the weakness of its infantile m em bers."7 In other words, infants would sin if only they could physically do so. Augustine's rejection of the notion of infantile "innocence" carried over to his view of older children, whom he saw as existing within the fallen condition bequeathed by Adam,8 much as Paul had recalled having lived as a lawless child (Rom. 7:9). In associating children w ith Adam ic guilt rather than the heavenly hum ility that Jesus ascribed to them, Augustine could only strain to square the latter view with the m em ory of his ow n peccadillos as a boy: lying, theft, cheating, and indulgence in frivolity. Addressing God he asked: Is this boyish innocence [in n ocentia p u erilis]? It is not, Lord. It is not. . . . For these are the sam e things, the very sam e things, which, as we depart from teachers and masters, from nuts and balls and pet birds, proceeding to kings, gold, estates, and slaves, continue on as m ore years pass in succession, just as greater punishm ents succeed the ferule. Therefore, our King, it was [only] a sym bol of hum ility which you praised in the [dim inu tive] stature of childhood, saying: To such belongs the kingdom of heaven.9 Thus precluding any literalistic interpretation of Jesus' ex pressed favoritism for children, the Augustinian view of the child as innately sinful predom inated throughout the M iddle Ages in the Christian West. Consequently, as suggested by m edieval art, children were valued mainly as adults-to-be. The rare pictures in which they appear tend to portray them as dim inutive men; according to Philippe Ariиs, this absence of lifelike representations
6E.g., Augustine, Serm on 294.19.18, delivered at Carthage, in Patrologia cursus completus. Series Latina
, 221 vols., ed. J.-P. M igne (Paris, 1844-1866) 38:1347. 7Augustine, Confessions 1.7.11; my translation. All references to this work are to Sancti Aureli Augustini Confessionum, libri tredecim, ed. Pius Knтll, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 33. 8E.g., Augustine, Confessions 1.9.14; City o f God 22.22.34. 9Augustine, Confessions 1.19.30; my translation.
International Kierkegaard Commentary
of children shows that "there was no place for childhood in the m ed ieval w o rld ."10 O nly during the thirteenth century did actual child m orphology begin to be depicted in art, which anticipated what Aries chronicles as the gradual "discovery" of childhood as a period of life separate and distinct from adulthood, and the m odern idea of childish innocence. This idea, by Aries' account, em erged in the m oral and pedagogical literature of the late sixteenth century
and the seventeenth century
, and was exem pli fied by the frequency with which painters and engravers of that period portrayed the Gospel scene of Jesus' blessing of the children, a scene w hich hitherto had been rarely portrayed .11 An irony w hich Aries does not adequately account for is that these developm ents followed the age of the Protestant reformers, whose dom inant theologies had reemphasized the doctrine of original sin and hence the notion that children are inherently depraved. H eightening this irony, the tendency of thought away from the medieval negativism toward children culminated only a couple of centuries after the Reform ation in Rousseau's treatise on education, Йmile (1762), which opens with the assertion: "Every thing is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of m a n ."12 Here we arrive at an attitude toward children that is the very antithesis of the centuries-old Augustinian wariness toward them. For Rousseau, not only is nothing wrong with childhood; on the contrary, children are meant by Nature "to be children before being men. . . . Childhood has its ways of seeing, thinking, and feeling w hich are proper to it. N othing is less sensible than to w ant to substitute ours for th eirs."13 H is position on the educative value of punishing children is thus the opposite of Augustine's. The
10Philippe Ariиs, Centuries o f Childhood: A Social History
o f Family Life, trans. Robert Baldick (New York: Vintage, 1962) 33. 11See ibid., 100-27. On the rarity of medieval depictions of Jesus' blessing of the children, and the frequency of late-sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century portrayals of that scene, see Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, 8 vols, ed. Engelbert Kirschbaum with Gьnter Bandmann et al. (Rome: Herder, 1968-1976) 2:513-14, s.v. "Kindersegnung Jesu." 12Jean-Jacques Rousseau
, Йmile, or, On Education, trans., intro., and notes by Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books
, 1979) 37. 13Ibid., 90.
Works of Love
latter, citing the paternal advice of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 30:12, could suggest that the harsh corporal punishm ents em ployed in Roman schools were necessary for counteracting children's natural inclination toward sloth, indolence, and other vices, and were but a natural consequence of the perverted, fallen nature with which every child is en dow ed at b irth .14 Rousseau, in contrast, contends that because the child's actions are devoid of morality, "he can do nothing w hich is m orally bad and w hich m erits either punishm ent or rep rim a n d ."15 It is to Rousseau, Aries notes, that the m odern association of childhood with prim itivism and irrationalism may be traced, although H egel, as noted by another scholar, is right to observe that Jesu s anteceded Rousseau in exalting the child as n orm .16 The later hallowing of childhood by Romantic poets and theorists, most notably Blake, W ordsw orth, and Coleridge in England, and Schiller and N ovalis in G erm any, is well docum ented. A nticipated by Jesus and Rousseau, as well as by the seventeenth-century English religious poets Thomas Traherne and Henry Vaughan, who saw the child as view ing the world through prelapsarian eyes, the Rom antics equated childhood with A dam 's condition in Eden and exalted the child's "freshness of sensation" (Coleridge) as a norm for adult artistic exp erience.17 This brings us to Kierkegaard, w hose birth in 1813 coincided with the m ajor period of Germ an Romanticism, the so-called Jьngere Rom antik or Hochromantik which encompassed the years of the Napoleonic wars (1805-ca. 1815). As a student for eleven years at the University of Copenhagen
, he would be initially allured but eventually disenchanted by the literature, aesthetics, and philoso phy of that movement. Reflecting the conflicting but lasting im pacts of both his youthful im m ersion in Rom anticism , and his
14Augustine, City o f God 22.22.34. 15Rousseau, Йmile, 92. 16See Ariиs, Centuries o f Childhood, 119; M. H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (New York: W. W. Norton, 1973) 382. 17See, e.g., Peter Coveney, The Image o f Childhood: The Individual and Society: A Study o f the Theme in English literature
, rev. ed. (Baltimore: Penguin Books
, 1967) esp. 37-90; Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism, esp. 377-483.
International Kierkegaard Commentary
earlier, austerely pietistic upbringing by his father, Kierkegaard's writings convey attitudes toward the child that fluctuate rem ark ably betw een Pauline, Augustinian wariness, and the favoritism expressed by Jesus, Rousseau, as well as the Romantics. "A Sinner without the Consciousness o f Sin" In a journal entry of February 1836, midway through his career as a university student, Kierkegaard wrote: "The irony of life must of necessity be m ost intrinsic to childhood, to the age of im agina tion; . . . this is why it is present in the rom antic school" (JP, 2:1669; repr. in C I, 425). This com m ent seems innocuous enough; the association drawn betw een childhood and the Romantic school does not imply anything unfavorable about either the child or Rom anticism , both of w hich are in turn associated w ith the im agination, that human capacity the Romantics extolled above All Other
s. If neither of these associations was original, w hat is note worthy about this entry is that it shows him already contem plating childhood as a distinct stage of life. His reflections on childhood thereafter would not always prove so neutral. In his aforecited journal entry of the next year, Kierkegaard asks, "what significance does childhood really have? Is it a stage with significance only because it conditions, in a way, the follow ing stages-- or does it have independent value?" (JP, 1:265). Both these positions strike him as laughably flawed. Adherents to the first position essentially kill time, as though all would be well "if children could be shut up in the dark and force-fed on an acceler ated schedule like chickens" (JP, 1:265). Adherents to the second position com e to regard childhood as "fundam entally the highest level attainable by hum an b ein g s," beyond w hich everything is "progressive degeneration" (JP, 1:265). Both views are m isleading because both "m ust presuppose the em ptiness of childhood" (JP, 1:265). While not constituting criticism s of childhood per se, these observations call attention to the conceptual pitfalls of regarding childhood in either of two w rong ways. Although he never defines childhood here, he does distinguish it by stressing that storytelling, instruction, and upbringing should be conducted in a special Socratic m od e "to allow the child to bring forth the life within him in
Works of Love
all stillness" (JP, 1:265). By the sam e token, as K ierkegaard else where made clear during the same year this entry was written, if stories told to children m ust be conveyed only in a certain way, then it is also im perative for stories about childhood to offer a faithful portrayal of the child's mind. In his scathing 1838 review of Hans Christian A ndersen's Kun en Spillemand (1837, Only a Fiddler), a novel whose first six chapters portray its protagonist's childhood, K ierkegaard contends that the author there fails to depict "a com pletely childlike consciousness": Instead, it often becom es either childishness, undigested rem inis cences from a specific, concrete period of childhood, or, what we particularly have in view here, one speaks as an adult about the im pression made by life and then adds at appropriate intervals that one m ust rem em ber childhood, the great creative pow er of childhood im agination. (EPW , 86) As these com m ents reveal, a significant change has occurred in Kierkegaard's thinking since he called childhood "the age of im agination" in his aforecited 1836 journal entry. There, he used that phrase earnestly in associating childhood with Rom anticism . Here, with undisguised sarcasm he draws the phrase "childhood im agination" directly from the pages of Kun en Spillemand to deride what he views as Andersen's unsuccessful attempt to depict a fictional child through a clichйd, adult, romanticized notion of ch ild h o o d .18 This change of attitude toward childhood as "the age of im agination," and hence toward the association of childhood with Rom anticism , would com e to a head four years later in a passage toward the end of Kierkegaard's dissertation (1841) on Socratic and Romantic irony. M aking reference to a criticism leveled by Heinrich Heine specifically against the poet and dramatist Ludwig Tieck, but also, by extension, against the whole school of Romantic
18Julia Watkin supplies the following two examples from H. C. Andersen, Kun en Spillemand, 3 vols. (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1837) 1:15, 18: "B u t for childhood imagination a wealth lay in it"; "Childhood imagination needs only to scratch in the ground with a stick in order to create a castle with halls and corridors" (EPW, 256n.117; W atkin's trans.).
International Kierkegaard Commentary
poets and w riters,19 K ierkegaard sum s up his ow n disenchantm ent with that school by likening what he now sees as the Rom antics' som nam bulistic detachm ent from reality to the m entality of an infant: The w orld is rejuvenated, but as H eine so w ittily rem arked, it w as rejuvenated by rom anticism to such a degree that it becam e a baby again. The tragedy of rom anticism is that w hat it seizes upon is not actuality. Poetry aw akens; the powerful longings, the m ysterious intim ations, the inspiring feelings awaken; nature aw akens; the enchanted princess aw akens-- the rom anticist falls asleep. (C I, 304) As anticipated by this passage, the attitude toward childhood that will tend to underlie references to the infant in Kierkegaard's subsequent writings, both published and unpublished, pseudony m ous and nonpseudonym ous, is one utterly divorced from the Romantic idealization of children. Having mused as early as 1837 that "[c]hildhood is the paradigm atic part of life; adulthood its syntax" (JP, 1:266), he realized that anything "paradigm atic" must share the essence of w hatever it is the paradigm for, and therefore that the child cannot be dissociated from the sinfulness of the adult hum an condition. Accordingly, while sarcastically stating his preference "to talk w ith children, for one may still dare to hope they may becom e rational beings," the aesthete "A " of Either/Or notes-- no less sarcastically-- that when a baby is asked w hat it wants, it babbles da-da, an utterance which in Danish also connotes "spanking": "A nd with such observations life begins, and yet we deny hereditary sin" (EO, 1:19; see 606n.8; cf. JP, 5:5184; repr. EO, 1:467). The ethicist Judge W illiam , though referring only once ex plicitly to "h ered itary sin " (EO, 2:190), stresses: "[T ]h at a child is born in sin is the m ost profound expression of its highest w orth, that it is precisely a transfiguration of hum an life that everything related to it is assigned to the category of sin" (92). And Johannes Clim acus sim ilarly affirms that Christianity rejects "the sentimental view of the child's innocence"; as the idea of hum ankind as fallen
19The Romantic School, bk. 1, trans. Helen Mustard, in Heinrich Heine, The Romantic School and Other Essays, ed. Jost Hermand and Robert C.
Holub (New York: Continuum , 1985) 18.
Works of Love
assumes the notion of "the child as sinner," Christianity "cannot provide the period of childhood with any advantage" (CUP, 1:592). The child, its consciousness qualified as "im m ediate" and hence in determ inate and excluding doubt (see JC, 167), can therefore be de fined as "a sinner w ithout the consciousness of sin" (CUP, 1:592). W e m ight pause here to locate this insight in relation to Augustine and Rousseau, our two nonbiblical reference points in W estern thinking regarding the child. W hile Rousseau and the Rom antics w ould easily concur that the child by nature is "w ithout the consciousness of sin," the idea of the child as "a sinner" is anti thetical to their view. On the other hand, the whole idea of the child as "a sinner without the consciousness of sin" seems borne out by a com m ent that surfaces during one of Augustine's painful listings of his own boyhood flaws and misdeeds: "For I did not see the whirlpool of filthiness into which I had plunged from [the sight of] your eyes [non enim uidebam uoraginem turpitudinis, in quam proiectus eram ab oculis tuis]." 20 H ow ever, if A ugustine can recall his own life as a puerile "sinner without the consciousness of sin," it is his obsession w ith recollecting his own various types of boyhood transgressions and distinguishing them as symptoms of sin that distinguishes his view of childhood from those of Kier kegaard, Clim acus, and Kierkegaard's other pseudonyms. Perhaps reflecting in part his experience of having been regularly m ocked by boys in the streets during the period of the C orsair A ffair,21 passing allusions to naughty children do crop up in K ierk eg aard 's w ritings (e.g., W L, 203-204). N onetheless, he and his pseudonym s depict the sinfulness of children no less than the sinfulness of adults as "som ething quite other than a series of transgressions; it is a spiritual attitude that is at the sam e time psychological and m etap h ysical."22 H ereditary sin is certainly discussed in his writings, particularly The Concept o f Anxiety and The Sickness Unto Death; yet Kierkegaard and his pseudonym s display nothing approaching the Augustinian preoccupation with
20Augustine, Confessions 1.19.30; my translation. 21See JP, 5:5887 (repr. in COR, 212); 5:5894 (repr. in COR, 217); 5:5937; 5:5998 (repr. in COR, 220); 6:6160 (repr. in COR, 227). 22Henri Rondet, Original Sin: The Patristic and Theological Background, trans. Cajetan Finegan (Staten Island NY: Alba House, 1972) 206.
International Kierkegaard Commentary
it.23 For Vigilius H aufniensis, w hat is anticipatory (if not yet explic itly sym ptom atic) of sin in the child is "[t]he anxiety that is posited in innocence" (CA, 42), while the closest that Anti-Clim acus comes to associating children with original sin is in finding them m arked by the same "im perfection" as the unchristian "natural m an," nam ely, "not to recognize the horrifying, and then, im plicit in this, to shrink from w hat is not horrifying" (SUD, 8). In identifying sin with the despair w hich adults feel in the face of the eternal, AntiClim acus observes that "only bad temper, not despair, is associated w ith child ren," since we can only assum e "th at the eternal is present in the child [potentially]" (SU D, 49n .). Located som ewhere between the opposed attitudes of Augus tine and Rousseau, Clim acus's view of childhood, like Kierke gaard's own, shows no sign of having been directly influenced by either of those tw o thinkers.24 The closest precursor to K ierke gaard's am bivalent perspective on children, I believe, is the poetphilosopher W illiam Blake. Although a celebrant of childhood's innocence, Blake was also, like Kierkegaard, a sober acknowledger of how that innocence is inevitably tempered by experience; hence the child as a type figures prom inently in both his Songs o f Innocence (1789) and Songs o f Experience (1794), which, when published together, bore the subtitle: "Shew ing the Two Contrary States of the H um an S o u l."25 A nticipating K ierkegaard's notion of
23See Johannes Hohlenberg, Sцren Kierkegaard, trans. T. H. Croxall (New York: Pantheon, 1954) 131; cited by Rondet, Original Sin, 206. 24Kierkegaard expressed mixed reactions to Augustine and Rousseau. Although his examination of the stages of existence was presumably influenced by Augustine's notion that "m an" must develop through "three stages" (JP, 1:29), he saw Augustine as having "done incalculable harm " by "confus[ing] the concept of faith" (JP, 1:180). And while he could consider a statement by the vicar in book 4 of Emile "splendid " (JP, 3:3824), he viewed Rousseau himself as "totally ignorant of Christianity," particularly with regard to the matter of suffering (JP, 3:3827), and therefore ranked him among "m uddleheads" (JP, 6:6794). (Cf. the Hongs' com m ents on Kierkegaard's journal entries on these two figures [JP, 1, p. 504; 3, pp. 924-25].) Nowhere, however, does Kierkegaard comment specifically on either Augustine's or Rousseau's attitude toward the child. 25A s Northrop Frye
points out, "real children are not symbols of innocence: the Songs o f Innocence would be intolerably sentimental if they were. One finds a great deal more than innocence in any child: there is the childish as well as the childlike; the jealousy and vanity that all humans naturally have" (Fearful Symme
Works of Love
childhood as "th e paradigm atic part of life," Blake saw it-- in Alfred Kazin's words-- "as the nucleus of the whole hum an sto ry ."26 For exam ple, "T h e Little Boy L o st," the eighth poem of Songs o f Innocence, expresses an intense form of childish anxiety through the sam e im age of lostness that H aufniensis em ploys to characterize innocence "brou ght to its utterm ost": "Innocence is n ot guilty, yet there is anxiety as though it w ere lo st" (CA, 45).27 Yet Kierkegaard knew nothing of Blake. The two chief sources of influence upon Kierkegaard's attitude toward the child are clearly Jesus and Paul, neither of whose own assessments of children he entirely or straightforwardly accepted. True to the irrepressibly dialectical tendency of his thinking, Kierkegaard was keenly aware of the opposition we noted earlier between Jesus and Paul's views of childhood, both of which views are invoked in serm ons of 1844, and later in A nti-Clim acus's Practice in C hristianity.28 In 1849, the year before Practice appeared, Kierkegaard suggested in his journal that the way someone assesses his or her childhood in the light of the Christic and Pauline views will provide a key to that person's personality. After quoting 1 Corinthians 13:11 he wrote: "O ne could speak on the theme: what judgm ent do you make on your childhood and your youth? Do you judge that it was foolishness and fancies?"-- in accordance with the Pauline passage. "O r do you judge that you were at that tim e closest to the M ost H igh ?"-- in consistency with C hrist's claim about heaven belonging to "su ch " as children. "Just tell me how you judge your childhood and your youth, and I will tell you who you are" (JP, 1:271). Although K ierkegaard's notion that one's "openness" in rela tion to God "increases as one becom es m ore and m ore a child"
try: A Study o f William B
lake [Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1947] 235). 26Alfred Kazin, introduction to his edition of The Portable Blake (New York: Viking, 1946; repr. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1986) 39. 27This particular analogy betw een Blake and Haufniensis is drawn by Lorraine Clark, Blake, Kierkegaard, and the Spectre o f Dialectic (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni versity Press, 1991) 57. 28See EUD, 240 (on Matt. 18:3), 399 (on 1 Cor. 13.11); PC, 191 (on Matt. 18:3), 198 (for an apparent allusion to 1 Cor. 13.12, the verse that immediately follows the Pauline verse in question).
International Kierkegaard Commentary
accords with Jesus' idea of heaven's belonging to "su ch " as children, and although he had once enunciated a warning conso nant with the one issued by Jesus about the fate that awaits corrupters of children (Matt. 18:6; cf. JP, 1:91; repr. in CA, 169), he apparently held little sympathy for the conventional reading of Jesus' consecration of children. Anticipating several critiques which Kierkegaard will elaborate in 1854 of the literal interpretation
of M atthew 19:13-15 and Luke 18:15-17 (see JP, 1:370; 1:548; 1:549), Climacus observes that a "childish," "sentim ental" understanding of Jesus' blessing of children makes Christianity ridiculous. For if it were literally true that the child will face none of the difficulties that an adult m ust face to enter heaven, then it would seem "best to die as a child" (CUP, 1:593). Despite the lack here of any explicit citation of 1 Corinthians 13:11, we can hardly miss Clim acus's im plicit affirm ation of the truth behind Paul's testim ony to the need for giving up "childish w ays" and becom ing "a m an." However, this verse itself can be m isleading; as Kierkegaard elsewhere urges in reference to it, "let us never forget that even the more mature person always retains som e of the child's lack of judgm ent" (EUD, 399). Likewise Clim acus asserted earlier that "it is a m ediocre existence when the adult cuts away all com m unication with childhood" (CUP, 348). This view squares with two other crucial ideas articulated by Kier kegaard and his pseudonym s, ideas that might seem upon first consideration to suggest that Christianity involves a kind of recovery of childhood innocence and simplicity. One of these ideas, w hich has an unacknow ledged Rousseauistic resonance, is that from G od's perspective the definitive, most desirable quality of the single individual is "p rim itiv ity." As explained by the Hongs, this term for Kierkegaard "does not have the slightly disparaging ring of the undeveloped that it has in m odern D anish"; rather, it is used in his various w ritings to denote the hum an being's "original and uncorrupted capacity to receive an im pression without being influenced by 'th e others' . . . or by current v iew s."29
29JP, 3, p. 887. For Kierkegaard's own discussions of this notion in entries dat ing from the years 1849-1854, see JP, 3, pp. 3558-61. A number of allusions to "prim itivity" in the pseudonym ous writings are cited by the Hongs, JP, 3:887-88.
Works of Love
The notion of prim itivity is clearly related to the other idea, w hich is first developed by Johannes de Silentio in his reaction to the H egelian valuation of the outer (das Д ussere) or externalization (die E ntдusserung), as sym bolized by the adult, over the inner (das Innere), as sym bolized by the child. The paradox of faith, according to Silentio, is that it elevates interiority above exteriority. H owever, as he further suggests, this does not mean that faith brings about a return to a childlike state. For just as the single individual's "prim itivity" m ust finally not be equated with the condition of childhood, so this higher interiority is one "that is not identical, please note, w ith the first but is a new interiority" (FT, 69). Phrased otherw ise, "Faith is not the first im m ediacy," that is, the aesthetic im m ediacy of the child, "but a later im m ediacy" (FT, 82)-- a conclusion reiterated not only by Kierkegaard in a journal entry of 1848 (JP, 2:1123) but by Frater Taciturnus (SLW, 399) and Johannes Clim acus (CUP, 1:347, 347n.). Ultimately, regardless how much Clim acus's implicit agreement with 1 Corinthians 13:11 m ust be qualified by notions of prim i tivity and of faith as a second immediacy, Paul's talk of giving up "childish w ays" and becom ing "a m an" itself begs the question. As the rest of his verse indicates, the mature, true Christian is som e one w ho is no longer a child, and who, like the converted Paul, no longer speaks, thinks, or reasons "like a child." Yet the whole passage in which this verse occurs revolves around the theme of love, w hich Paul sets above faith and hope as a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 13.4-13). So what is the relation of the child to C hristian love? On Septem ber 29, 1847, nineteen months after the publication of the book in w hich Clim acus made his observations above, Works o f Love appeared under Kierkegaard's own name. In this book, as we m ight suspect from its title, answers are provided to the question just posed, and we shall find proof that the same thing m ight be said of Kierkegaard that has been said of Blake: "H is faith in the creative richness of love has the same source as his feeling for the secret richness of ch ild h o o d ."30
30Kazin, introduction to The Portable Blake, 39.
International Kierkegaard Commentary
The Child's Significance in W orks o f Love References to the child abound in Works o f Love, particularly in the second of the book's two series of discourses. Yet from the first of these references on, the views reflected display the same pendu lum -like oscillation w hich we have observed elsewhere in Kierke gaard betw een the opposed attitudes expressed by Christ and Paul toward children. The initial allusions occur toward the end of the second discourse of the first series, where the child is associated with "the sim plest person" and "the w isest" insofar as all three types exist "at the distance of a quiet hour of life's confusion," and understand "w ith almost equal ease, what every person should do," namely, to love one's neighbor (WL, 78, 79). Just as the associ ation w ith sim plicity calls to mind Jesus' em phasis on children's hum ility, so the association with wisdom contradicts Paul's view of the child as spiritually and epistemologically imperfect. However, lest we be deceived that Kierkegaard has forsaken his own dialectical perspective on the matter, he presently closes this discourse by m aking a pointedly Pauline allusion to "childish ness" as representing the very lowest of the ascending stages of m aturation through which a person must progress in order to becom e fully receptive to the divine im perative, " you shall." H arking back to the ironic hom ology im plied by Either/Or's "A " between the infant's utterance of da-da and the spankings which children provoke as a result of hereditary sin (EO, 1:19), Kierke gaard perceives the inherent self-centeredness of children as a condition which any individual m ust outgrow in order to enter into a relationship of obeisance to the eternal: It is a m ark of childishness to say: M e w ants, m e-- m e; a m ark of adolescence to say: I-- and I-- and I; the sign of m aturity and the devotion of the eternal is to will to understand that this I has no significance unless it becom es the you to w hom eternity inces santly speaks and says: You shall, you shall, you shall. (WL, 90) This last passage does not exhaust Kierkegaard's usage of the child in the first series of discourses in Works o f Love. H aving in voked the child as typifying in and of itself a pair of positive virtues (simplicity, wisdom) as well as a pair of venial flaws (selfcenteredness, im m aturity), he also refers to the child as a sym bol
Works of Love
of, or an analogue to, specific aspects of adult hum an existence. Early in the third discourse, to illustrate the ease with which a person will backslide from a prom ise to fulfill the law, he likens such a prom ise to a changeling. At the m om ent of birth, w hen the m other's joy is greatest because her suffering is over, . . . then come, so thinks superstition, the hostile power
s and place a changeling in place of the child. In the great but therefore also dangerous m om ent of beginning, w hen one is supposed to begin, the hostile pow ers com e and slip in a changeling promise and prevent one from m aking the actual beginning. (WL, 95) N otew orthy here is not only the focus on the relationship of m other to child (a relationship w hich receives closer scrutiny in the second series of discourses) but the appeal to "superstition" regarding this matter. Near the end of this discourse, whether w ittingly or not, Kierkegaard likew ise introduces with regard to the hum an "sp irit" an analogy that recalls the stock usage of the child figure in m edieval art as a sym bolic representation of the hum an sou l.31 That "a child m ust learn to spell before it can learn to read" is likened to the fact that a person's spiritual advancem ent must begin not at "the great m om ent of the resolution, the intention, the p ro m ise," but rather, in "stru g g l[in g ] w ith oneself in self-denial" (W L, 133). The use of the child to sym bolize aspects of adult existence reaches its first point of culm ination in the fifth and final discourse of the b ook's first series, w here a sim ile is established betw een a certain disposition of well-raised children and a certain hallmark of Christian love. Even when away from home and among strangers, according to Kierkegaard, the well-raised child will behave as it has been brought up, because it "never forgets that the judgm ent is at hom e, w here the parents do the judging" (WL, 189). Likew ise it is God w ho cultivates a person's Christian love. Yet just as a child is earnestly brought up not in order to rem ain at hom e with parents but in order to go out into the world, so God cultivates a person's Christian love so as "to send love out into the w orld" (WL, 190). Like the well-raised child among strangers, such love "never for a m om ent forgets where it is to be jud ged " (WL,
3lOn this symbol see, e.g., Ariиs, Centuries o f Childhood, 36, 124.
International Kierkegaard Commentary
190). A sim ilar idea is further evoked to distinguish the Christian from the surrounding world, and thereby to explain G od's invisibility and inaudibility in the world. W hen a strictly brought-up child is together with naughty or less well behaved children and is unw illing to join them in their misbehavior, which they themselves, for the m ost part, do not regard as m isbehavior-- the naughty children know of no other explanation for this than that the child m ust be a queer and daft child. They do not see that . . . the strictly brought-up child, w herever it is, is continually accom panied by its parents' criterion for w hat it m ay and m ay not do. (W L, 203) This scenario furnishes a metaphor for the difference between the Christian and the world. As long as the parents (=God) of the well-raised child (=the Christian) remain invisible, this child's naughty peers (=the world) will m istakenly assume that it simply does not like their kind of fun and is "queer and daft," or that it likes their fun but is afraid to join in. Like the world in its own bafflem ent at the Christian who does not share its passions and desires, the naughty children "think well of their m isbehavior, and therefore they w ant [the strictly brought-up child] to join them and be a plucky boy-- just like the others" (WL, 204). In draw ing to a close the first series of discourses in Works o f Love, this use of the child to explain the distinctness of the C hristian's G od-relationship prepares for the use of the child in the second series, which will likewise end with a reference to "the well-disciplined child," whose "unforgettable impression of rigorousness" is com plem ented by the "unforgettable fear and trem bling" experienced by "th e person who relates him self to G od's love" in an earnest m anner (WL, 385-86). In the second series, not only does the child continue to be associated with "sim plicity" (WL, 346) and m entioned as a symbol of spiritual qualities, but increasingly the child's relationship with parents, and especially with the mother, will be analyzed as a metaphor for the agapic relationship between the Christian and God. One reason why Kierkegaard can so readily appeal to the child as a m etaphor for certain spiritual qualities is that, as w e noted earlier, he, like Blake, does not allow the distinct aspects of childhood to obscure the child's "paradigm atic" nature. This point becom es all the more clear in the third discourse of the second
Works of Love
series, where he considers the association of the child with hope. The child and the youth are easily associated with hope, as they themselves are both "still a possibility" (WL, 250), and as the child, the antithesis o f the dead person, "th riv e [s] and grow [s] tow ard the future" (WL, 350). Nonetheless, Kierkegaard scoffs at the conventional tendency to call the initial period of a person's life "th e age of hope or of possibility" (WL, 251). Hope is oriented toward the possibility of good, w hose own possibility is dependent upon the eternal, which extends over a person's entire life, not just over a single age. To illustrate how anyone who fails to see that "th e w hole of one's life should be the tim e of hope" m ust be in despair, Kierkegaard again draws upon his own insight into Child Psychology
. To assist a child with a very large task, he observes, one does not present the task all at once; to do so would cause the child to despair. Instead, One assigns a sm all part at a time, but always enough so that the child at no point stops as if it w ere finished, but not so m uch that the child cann ot m anage it. T his is the pious fraud in upbringing; it actually su ppresses som ething. If the child is deceived, this is because the instructor is a hum an being who cannot vouch for the next moment. (WL, 252) H ere, in stressing a pedagogic m ethod that allow s the child to fulfill tasks on its own, Kierkegaard's advice reflects his own m aieutic strategy as author. However, in functioning as m idw ife in the Socratic sense, the ideal educator in his view also does som ething in relation to children that is analogous to w hat God does in relation to hum an beings. The ideal educator, in bringing up m any children at once, "takes the individual child's eyes away from him -- that is, in everything he m akes the child look at him " (W L, 377). The sam e thing is done by God: through his glance into every hum an being's conscience, God requires each person to look back at him, and thereby governs the entire world and brings up innum erable hum an beings. "B u t," like the adult who m istakes his or her worldly dealings for actuality, but is led by God to grasp that these are only being employed for his or her upbringing, "the child who is being brought up readily im agines that his relation ship to his com rades, the little world that they form, is actuality, w hereas the educator teaches him with his glance that all this is being used to bring up the child" (WL, 377). Through this analogy,
International Kierkegaard Commentary
it is as if Kierkegaard were retelling Plato's myth of the cave, inserting God as the educator who frees the prisoners and enables them to discern the unreality of the shadow s w hich they m istook for real. The child's earliest upbringing is a task assigned by nature not to an "ed u cator" but to the child's parents, and initially to the m other in particular. Unlike Augustine, who practically deified his m other in his Confessions to reveal the role of providential agent which he believed she had played in his childhood, youth, and early ad u lthood,32 K ierkegaard fam ously m akes no m ention ever of his own mother. Nonetheless, he shares with his ancient predecessor a fixation with the image of the m other breast-feeding her infant as a m etaphor for the dem onstration of G od's love for the human being. Just as Augustine could suggest that he him self in ad ulthood w as like an infant being suckled by God (sugens lac tuum ), or that converted sinners are those who cast them selves upon G o d 's breast (in sinu tuo), or that G o d 's W ord w as m ade flesh in order that G od's wisdom might suckle our infancy (ut infantiae nostrae lactesceret sapientia tua),33 so K ierkegaard finds G od's encom passing love reflected in the "upbuilding sight" of a mother lovingly holding a sleeping baby at her breast (WL, 214). Still, as forewarned by the "Exordium " of Fear and Trembling, where Johannes de Silentio contemplates the deception and concealm ent through which, and the sorrow with which, the mother must ultim ately wean the child from her breast (FT, 11-14; cf. JP, 5:5640; repr. W L, 398; see also FT, 246), Kierkegaard is well aware of more painful im plications of the breast-feeding image. Consistent with his am bivalence toward the child, which will lead him still in the book's "C onclu sion" to lam ent the ease w ith which G od 's love is sentim entalized and softened into "a fabulous and childish conception" (WL, 376), Kierkegaard never succum bs to conventional, sentimental assumptions about the spectacle of the m other with child. For him, the moment the m other's love ceases to be visible in her expression, the sight of her with her child
32See Eric J . Ziolkowski, "St. Augustine: M onica's Boy, Antitype of A eneas," in Journal o f Literature and Theology 9 (1995): 1-23. 33Augustine, Confessions 4.1.1; 5.2.2; 7.18.24.
Works of Love
ceases to be edifying (see W L, 214). Likewise he confides in his journal his suspicion that "m aternal love as such is sim ply self-love raised to a higher pow er," though it is still "a beautiful figure" (JP, 3:2425; repr. W L, 483). Accordingly, in the first discourse of the second series in Works o f Love, when deliberating upon Paul's claim that "lo v e bu ilds u p " (1 Cor. 8:1), he clarifies w hat is m eant by the saying that the m other tolerates "all her child's naughtiness" (WL, 221). The saying means not that such a mother forbearingly endures evil but that "as a m other she is continually rem em bering that this is a child and thus is continually presupposing that the child still loves her and that this will surely show itself" (WL, 221). In other w ords, presupposed by the m other is the econom ic logic which underlies another proverb cited m uch earlier, namely, "that children are in love's debt to their parents because they have loved them first, so that the children's love is only a part-paym ent on the debt or a repaym ent" (WL, 176). This factor of "repaym ent" makes possible the cynical distinc tion which Kierkegaard draws betw een "the two greatest w orks" of love, giving a hum an being life and recollecting one who has died: unlike the latter work, the former involves repayment. W ere it not for this factor, he speculates, there would be m any fathers and mothers "w hose love would grow cold" (WL, 349). Indeed, were the otherwise helpless infant incapable of crying and thus of "extort[ing]" works of love from its parents, num erous parents would probably "forget the child" (WL, 351, 352). Conveyed in the ninth and penultim ate discourse of the second series, these cynical speculations about a frequent contingency of parental love m erely present the opposite side of the picture which this series' second discourse painted of the child who tries to deceive the parents. Once again evoking the analogy betw een the parent-child and God-human relationships, Kierkegaard there asserted that it is just as im possible for a child to deceive its parents as for an adult hum an to deceive God, and that both the child and the adult in such cases deceive them selves, since the parent and God are superior to them, and "true superiority can never be deceived if it rem ains faithful to itself" (WL, 236). In the fifth discourse of the book's second series, that is, about halfway betw een the second and ninth discourses with their dis cussions of self-deceptive children and parents
whose love for their
International Kierkegaard Commentary
children "w ould grow cold," we encounter the most poignantly positive im age of the child in the entire book, an im age that would reinforce Clim acus's notion of the child as a creature "w ithout the consciousness of sin" w hile doing nothing to support the accom pa nying idea of the child as "a sinner." In discoursing upon the phrase "love covers a m ultitude of sins," from 1 Peter 4:8, Kierke gaard relates this text to 1 Corinthians 14:20, suggesting that the life of the person who loves expresses the Pauline com m and to be a babe in evil (see W L, 285). The world, he observes, reveres know ledge of evil as w isdom , though w isdom is know ledge of the good. On the assum ption that "the one who loves" neither has nor wants knowledge of evil, Kierkegaard asserts that "in this regard he is and rem ains, he w ants to be and w ants to rem ain, a child" (WL, 285). Having made this assertion, which rem arkably defies Paul's testim ony about the need to give up "childish w ays" to become "a m an," Kierkegaard introduces a thought experiment involving a child-- an experim ent com parable to the one elaborated elsew here by A nti-Clim acus to im agine how a child m ight react when first shown a picture of, and told about, the Crucifixion (see PC, 174-78; cf. JP , 1:270; W A , 55).34 "P u t a child in a den of thieves," Kierkegaard now tells us, (but the child m ust not rem ain there so long that it is corrupted itself); that is, let it rem ain there only for a very brief time. Then let it com e hom e and tell everything it has experienced. You will note that the child, who is a good observer and has an excellent m em ory (as does every child), will tell everything in the greatest detail, yet in such a w ay that in a certain sense the m ost im por tant is om itted. (W L, 285) W hat is m issing from the child's story, Kierkegaard points out to us, is som ething the child never discovered: the evil. Yet, as he further insists, the child's account of w hat it saw and heard is com pletely accurate. W hat the child lacks, and what "so often makes a child 's story the m ost profound m ockery of the adults," is "know ledge of evil" (WL, 286). The child knows nothing of evil,
34For discussion see Eric J. Ziolkowski, "A Picture Not Worth a Thousand Words: Kierkegaard, Christ, and the Child," in Religious Studies and Theology 1 7 /2 (January 1999).
Works of Love
nor even feels any inclination to desire know ledge o f evil, and it is in this respect that "th e one w ho loves is like the child" (WL, 286). That "the one who loves" will fail to discover the "m ultitude of sins" of which the author of 1 Peter spoke reminds Kierkegaard of a child's game, as when we play that we do not see the child standing right before us, or the child plays that it does not see us: "The childlikeness, then, is that, as in a game, the one who loves with his eyes open cannot see w hat is taking place right in front of him ; the solem nity is that it is the evil that he cannot see" (WL, 287). W ith this analogy, the pendulum of Kierkegaardian attitude tow ard children swings closer than in any other place in his w ritings to Jesus' injunction to the disciples that they should "becom e like children." Yet even here, in Kierkegaard's hypotheti cal experim ent with the child who is to be placed in a thieves' den, there is a dialectical im plication that subtly rem inds us of how tenuous the child's ascribed "innocence" must be. Just as Jesus followed up his own injunction with the warning about the awful drowning that awaits "w hoever causes one of these little ones . . . to sin " (M att. 18:6), so the success of K ierkegaard's experim ent in establishing the analogy between the child and "the one who loves" depends on the parenthetical qualification that the child m ust not rem ain am ong the thieves "so long that it is corrupted itself." This qualification, together with Kierkegaard's portrait of "the one who loves," may mark the distance between the author of Works o f Love and readers today in their perceptions of children. Conclusion A lthough there is am ple docum entation of what Leslie Fiedler called "th e profanation of the child" in tw entieth century litera ture,35 one need think only o f Peter Pan, the character created by J. M. Barrie during the early decades of the century, and Richard
35See Leslie Fiedler, "T h e Eye of Innocence," The Collected Essays o f Leslie Fiedler, 2 vols. (New York: Stein and Day, 1971) 502-11. For more recent cogita tions on the same phenomenon see, e.g., Joyce Carol Oates
, "Killer Kids," The New York Review (11 N ovem ber 1997): 16-20.
International Kierkegaard Commentary
H ughes's 1929 novel The Innocent Voyage, later republished under the title A H igh W ind in Jam aica, to gauge tw o crucial differences betw een us and Kierkegaard in our attitude toward the child. Barrie, whose depiction of children as "gay and innocent and h ea rtle ss"36 aptly sum s up the sentim ental V ictorian view of children, bequeathed to W estern culture what has becom e one of our most popular myths of childhood, the story of "the boy who w ould not grow u p ."37 This epithet m ay seem suggestively close to K ierkegaard's description of "th e one w ho loves" as som eone who "is and rem ains," "w ants to be and wants to rem ain a child." Yet the pagan personality, not to m ention the pagan nam e, of Barrie's hero is a far cry from K ierkegaard's ideal Christian-- as is also the com m on "syndrom e" of arrested Social development
among contemporary adult males that has been named after Peter Pan.38 Indeed, though they both rem ain not grow n up in certain senses, Peter Pan and Kierkegaard's "one who loves" would seem to be ethically and religiously opposed flip sides of each other. As for Kierkegaard's imagining what a child would or would not observe "in a den o f th ieves," A High Wind in Jam aica attests to our own century's loss of even a pretended restraint about trying to preserve any false sense of the child as an uncorrupted type. W hereas Kierkegaard wanted his im aginary child removed from am ongst the thieves before it was "corrupted itself," H ughes's novel, w hose publication is said to have delivered the death blow to the Victorian cult of childhood, tells of a group of children captured by pirates, am ong whom one, a ten-year-old girl, becom es a rem orseless killer. In subsequent novels such as W illiam G olding's Lord o f the Flies and W illiam M arch's The Bad Seed, both of which appeared in 1954, it does not take the com pany of pirates to prom pt equally w icked behavior among children.
36T h e closing phrase of the novel Peter and Wendy (1911), in J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. Peter and Wendy, ed. Peter Hollindale (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1991) 226. 37The subtitle of the play Peter Pan (premiere 1904), in The Plays o f J. M. Barrie (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929) 1-94. 38See Dan Kiley, The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1983).
Works of Love
From the vantage of our own prodigious, m illennial conscious ness of sin and evil, we can only speculate over the fear and trembling with which Kierkegaard m ight have pondered the conse quences of not rem oving the child from among the thieves-- before it was too late.