4. From Pen to Press


Notebook cover

Among Professor Swenson’s papers in the University Archives is a notebook with his notes on his translations and other writings on Kierkegaard.

In this age of composing on the computer, reading his handwritten texts gives a very personal impression of Professor Swenson’s scholarly world and his expressiveness. Studying and reading these pages is like looking through his eyes as, fountain pen in hand, Professor Swenson puts his ideas to paper; one can almost feel his thoughts move from the brain to the hand to the page.


Introduction - first draft

This page (Section I) text starts the introduction to his 1936 translation of Kierkegaard’s Philosophiske Smuler [which Swenson translated as Philosophical Fragments, or a Fragment of Philosophy].

Compare this manuscript page to the published text. 


The typed manuscript

The title page of Prof. Swenson’s manuscript that was submitted for publication. The entire typewritten manuscript (but without the introduction) is found in the Swenson Papers collection.

David Ferdinand Swenson Papers, 1912-1978.
Philosophical Fragments or a Fragment of Philosophy, 1936-1937 Box 3, Folder 32
Note Reviews; translated by David Swenson.


Correspondence: David Swenson to H Larsen


Larsen to Swenson 1935

Correspondence between Prof. Swenson and Hanna Astrup Larsen, copy editor at the American Scandinavian Foundation. 
American Scandinavian Foundation, 1921, 1935-1939, 1942 Box 3, Folder 40

Note: Correspondence from Hanna Astrup Larsen [Literary Secretary of the Foundation], mostly with David Swenson re publication of Kierkegaard translations, especially Philosophical Fragments and Unscientific Postscript.

  • Swenson to Larsen 1935 (Sept 24th)
  • Larsen to Swenson 1935 (Sept 26th) 
  • Larsen to Swenson 1936 (Jan 16th)
  • Larsen to Swenson 1936 (Dec 2nd)

David Swenson's notebook, Section V

This text appears to belong to a much earlier publication: an biographical essay entitled simply “Søren Kierkegaard” published in Scandinavian Studies and Notes VI (1920), 1-41.

This passage speaks of Kierkegaard’s love for Regine Olsen, to whom he became engaged in 1840. Yet his fear of committing to marriage caused him to break off the engagement. He never married.


Princeton English translation Philosophical Fragments 1936

The 1936 English translation, published by Princeton University Press

Kierkegaard published under several different pseudonyms. He chose Johannes Climacus after the 6th-century Byzantine monk, Saint John Climacus (ca. 525-ca. 600), whose Climax tou paradeisou, (translated as The ladder of divine ascent--Wilson Library 281.4 J572), has been widely read throughout Christianity, especially in Greek and Russian Orthodoxy.

4. From Pen to Press