I was intrigued by this book: Kierkegaard's Muse The Mystery of Regine Olsen written by Joachim Garff, the official biographer of the philosopher.
Published by Princeton Press, on the cover the antique picture of an enigmatic, sweet, melancholic, tender girl.
The story is stunning for sure and deserves a lot of attention.
In a society where love is consumed in a few hours and then forgotten for another new one, in this case I met an extraordinary and I want also to add sad love-story.
It's an old-fashioned love-story, the one between Regine Olsen and the known poet, philosopher and thinker Soren Kierkegaard.
This couple split up after a year, maybe - reading between the lines of what Kierkegaard wrote - because the thinker panicked for having met the right person. According to him no one could live close to him in a normal relationship. Better to ends it.
Regine was devastated. From that point on they will live as if something unsaid was in the air; Kierkegaard writing down his reflections in various journals, Regine searching for him, destroyed, everywhere, for her lost love. Soren maybe happy to still have Regine's soul in his hands, Regine seeing that this love-story didn't end at all.
Kierkegaard was unable to move on although he decided to split up from Regine.
But not only: if Soren unable to going on with his existence, his ex fiance and now married woman was at the same time haunted by his presence, by her same feelings, by that lost opportunity without return, searching for him, waiting for him, meeting him in special places and routes of Copenhagen trying to establish not just a visual, but also an erotic contact with her past boyfriend.
The force of this love, able to survive at a husband, time, consumed Soren Kierkegaard, devoted forever to this dream, and his girlfriend became the main inspiration of his works.
Regine became his perfect spiritual sensual muse.
In a world where men kill women when there are problems, in a moment of extreme hate between couples this book is like a wonderful fresh rose, able to speak at the conscience of people, at their feelings, at their sentiments.
Sure: also the one lived by Soren Kierkegaard could be classified as a "sick love" because his torments, his idealization for Regine didn't know end. He interrupted his probable happiness and life shared with Regine for selfish reasons after all. The fear of being happy, the fear of not being perfect at her eyes, but....Ending this love-story meant that he preserved it for the Eternity and at the same time his behavior after the split was sweet and not destructive.
He ended up their story before the monotony would have killed love and passion, preserving intact his love and permitting him to fall in love for her again forever and ever again.
It was a creative reaction at a great pain and sufferance, the elaboration created by the mind of this thinker able to enlarge the horizons and able to "read" and idealize his Regine living with this intact dream in his heart although it meant the sacrifice of a life.
Soren Kierkegaard has never forgotten her and this "disability" of forgetting who knows maybe once became his same illness, that illness who brought him to the grave. At the end "imprisoned" in his own body for a little while, he suffered a lot but I want to think that having experienced real love to him it was more than sufficient for going on.
I want to search this as consolation, because to him this girl, Regine meant not the world, but the Universe, and she was his... Queen :-) in real sense.
A love-story impossible to live at a certain point for this couple. When of course they split up and Regine started to dating her future husband Fritz Schlegel.
From the beginning: Soren Kierkegaard once met this girl and to him it was like a revelation for her purity. Later he asked to her if she wanted to become his girlfriend.
And from some point on, 1840 'till 1841 per a year, no problems for the couple but then, the engagement was broken by Soren and later, Regine started to dating and later married Fritz Schlegel. With the time Mr Schlegel became Governor of the Danish West Indian Island and Regine the Governess, an important institutional role of great prestige.
But...the invisible wire of affection, love, eroticism between the two lovers remained intact. In his journals Soren portrayed in great details his daily "casual" meetings with the ex fiance and married woman where they exchanged some glances without to speak in a body language of extreme significance.
The profound love and affection lived by Kierkegaard for this lady remained intact also when she decided to move on with her life, choosing someone else.
When the poet and philosopher died, in a testament left all his properties to his beloved fiance, a real shock to the rest of the family.
Contacted the Schlegels, the husband of Regine answered back in a letter without too much sentimentalism that no one was interested in the properties left by Kierkegaard and that his wife, in case would have been grateful to have in return just some letters she exchanged with him during the period of their relationship and other few items.
The husband of Regine surely not very happy of discovering that the past abruptly was back in their lives and not just left behind in Copenhagen.
Once the couple returned to Copenhagen they found a different and at the same time similar world and also, you will see, after the departure of Kierkegaard the publications of the famous Journals written by Kierkegaard. Another reason for being upset for Fritz. He discovered in fact thanks to these journals everything about the daily meetings her wife had with Soren and more than surely he must have thought: "Why if all was ended up she was still thinking of him?"
The book is plenty of extracts from the letters exchanged between Regine and her sister Cornelia and the journals kept by Soren Kierkegaard. Many pictures of the various protagonists, locations, this one is a historical beautiful book.
I thank Princeton University Press for the physical copy of this wonderful book.
Anna Maria Polidori