What We Talk About When We Talk About Tormented Philosophers In Love

You can have your Samsons and Delilahs, your Romeos and Juliets, your Abelards and Heloises. I’ll take Kierkegaard and Regine.

Whether in spite or because of the ominous journey ahead of her, Regine made an important decision, it seems, on the day of her departure: she sought out a strange man to whom she had once been engaged; a man who had left her, and to whom she had not spoken in 14 years. But if they had not spoken, Regine Olsen and Søren Kierkegaard had not exactly remained strangers either. For years they had passed each other on their walks throughout the city, often in an openly calculated fashion. On Kierkegaard’s 39th birthday, for instance, Regine suddenly appeared on the street in front of his home on Østerbro. “As often happens to me of late, I can’t help but smile when I see her,” the melancholy Dane wrote in his journal. His smile was returned, whereupon the birthday boy removed his hat in greeting. Then, as if by agreement, the old lovers again went their separate ways.

That’s Morten Høi Jensen writing in the L.A. Review of Books. Anyone the least bit familiar with Kierkegaard’s writings will know how tormented he was by the unfulfilled love he had for Regine. Now we hear Regine’s side of the story – and we learn that she too felt a connection to him.

So what happened?

The silence between them remained unbroken until the day of Regine’s departure. Suddenly, in the midst of her travel arrangements, she rushed from her apartment in Nybrogade out into the Saturday morning crowds. After a frantic search she eventually came across the familiarly stooping figure on a random Copenhagen street. Quietly she approached him and exclaimed, in a delicate voice…

What? What did she say? “I love you, Soren. I always have loved you. I always will love you!”

How about. “I’m leaving you in body but not in spirit. I have always belonged to you and I know you have always belonged to me!”

Or “Soren, what have we done? I love you I love you I love you!”

No. It was this:

Quietly she approached him and exclaimed, in a delicate voice, “God bless you — may good things come your way!” Then she departed again, leaving her ex-fiancé standing there with his hat in his hand, speechless, stupefied.

It was the last they ever saw of each other.

Oh, Soren! Oh, oh, oh. Poor man. And what then?

Regine left for the Caribbean later that day, while Kierkegaard, after a final paroxysm of intense literary production, departed this world permanently just eight months later, on November 11, 1855.

Onward. And sadly upward.

Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You

Image Credit (Regine): peterrollins.net

Image Credit (Soren): lifetakeslemons, image based on a sketch by Niels Christian Kierkegaard

10 thoughts on “What We Talk About When We Talk About Tormented Philosophers In Love

  1. Wow! Very good. If you had not “liked” my little post I wouldn’t have hyperjumped to read your page, a marvelous serendipity. Read about your novels too — as a retired attorney, lawyer “heroes” always intrigue me. Always have liked SK too, and as with him recall my unrequited love from decades ago: Miss Benson in 10th grade English, sigh.


    1. Thanks, what a nice comment…although now I’m a little sad thinking of how many Regines there are in the world, and how many Sorens. I hope both you and Miss Benson have had happy lives!


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