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The outer aspects of Kierkegaard's career suggest the placid and uneventful life of a student and man of letters. Born in Copenhagen on the 5th of May, 1813, the youngest son of a merchant of means, he received the humanistic discipline of a classical school, and was enrolled in the University at the age of eighteen. The ten years following were spent in somewhat discursive studies, ranging over the fields of esthetics, philosophy, and theology. At twenty-seven he received the degree of Magister artium, and soon thereafter entered into an engagement of marriage, broken after a year upon his own initiative. He remained unmarried, and from this time until his death, which took place on the 11th of November, 1855, he devoted himself unremittingly to his literary labors, unfolding an extraordinary productivity.
Kierkegaard was endowed with a sensitive organism, and under the calm surface of his outward life there stirred a tense spiritual vitality. The trait which Wordsworth eulogizes as a mark of spiritual elevation, "the capacity to be excited to significant feeling without the application of gross or violent stimulants," was his in an extraordinary degree. Events which in the lives of most men would have passed without creating a ripple upon the surface, stirred his soul to its depths; and hence the apparent exaggeration which so many of his critics have found in his interpretation of himself and his wxperiences. The man of genius is naturally characterized by freshness and fulness of feeling, and Kierkegaard's personal experiences were certainly deeply felt; so profoundly, indeed, that they served to stimulate in him a reflection of universal significance. Soren Kierkegaard, David F. Swenson p. 1