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When Professor Emeritus of History Bruce Kirmmse first set out in 2004 to translate a massive trove of writings by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), he and his colleagues had their work cut out for them.
Now, after nearly a decade and a half, Kirmmse’s project has entered the final stretch with one last $100,000 grant. Facilitated by a series of six grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities over the years, the international team of scholars Kirmmse has assembled will conclude the final one-year installment of their project, entitled Kierkegaard’s Journals and Notebooks, by the fall of 2019. These translations will fill a major vacuum in the study of the philosopher’s unpublished work.
“These publications remove a major obstacle to Kierkegaard scholarship,” Kirmmse said. “Making the vast bulk of his unpublished writings available to the English-speaking world in a critical, scholarly edition will now create the benchmark for all future Kierkegaard scholarship in the English language.”
Kirmmse’s work has gained him such international renown that, in 2013, Denmark honored him with a knighthood on Kierkegaard’s 200th birthday.
Throughout the duration of this project, Kirmmse has led a team of consultant-translators who are based at Boston College, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Oslo and Oxford University. All 12 volumes of the definitive English translations are being published by Princeton University Press. Volume 10 was published earlier this year.
“With the continuing support of the NEH and the Danish government, and with the continuing assistance of Princeton University Press and Connecticut College, we expect to complete Kierkegaard’s Journals and Notebooks by next fall,” Kirmmse said. “This project will make an enormous contribution to the world’s understanding of a major thinker, whose unpublished writings will for the first time be available in full to all who can read English.”
Kirmmse retired from Connecticut College in 2007. He served as chair of the History Department from 1989-1993 and, in 2001, was awarded the Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award, presented annually to an outstanding and highly regarded faculty member.
The project is 58 percent federally funded; 32 percent funded with $55,000 from the Kierkegaard Centre at the University of Copenhagen, including funds provided by the Ministry of Culture of the Danish government; and 10 percent funded with an $18,000 cost share from Connecticut College.