What’s in a name

a Kierkegaardian approach to Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Paul Auster’s City of glass and Albert Camus’ The myth of Sisyphus


  • Jørgen Veisland




names, pseudonyms, truth, fiction, work, play


In The point of view on my work as an author (1851) Søren Kierkegaard speaks of Governance, a voice informing his writing. In The concept of anxiety (1844) the pseudonymous Vigilius elucidates the categories of the temporary, the eternal and the moment and defines the demonic as anxiety about the good, a predominant motif in Herman Melville’s novel Billy Budd (1891). Pseudonyms play an important role in Paul Auster’s novel City of glass (1987), a narrative constructing fictions within fictions while striving towards truth and pitting play against work Albert Camus’ The myth of Sisyphus (1942) is relevant as the philosopher argues that reason approximates truth while faith betrays truth, a standpoint he reverses in the later work The rebel (1951).


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Academic articles