Fortvivlelse som mulighed: En eksistensfilosofisk læsning af The Red Tree med perspektivering til Drengen der blev væk fra sig selv

Martin Blok Johansen


It is a widely accepted opinion that children should not be exposed to feelings of despair or meaninglessness. Based on an analysis of two picturebooks, Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree (2001) and Lone Munksgaard Nielsen and Pia Thaulov’s The Boy Who Lost Himself (2015), this article demonstrates, however, that these feelings are necessary and desirable when trying to discover who you are. Feeling despondent or enclosed contains a possibility of finding yourself and therefore it should not be neglected or eliminated. The theoretical framework of the article is the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s understanding of becoming a human being. For Kierkegaard, despair, meaninglessness and enclosedness are precisely the feelings that can help you become who you are. The article demonstrates how the protagonists’ despair and enclosedness gives them the possibility to realize themselves as human beings. From the child’s perspective, these picturebooks recount an existential theme fundamental to everyone: How do we become who we are?


picturebooks; despair; becoming a person; existential philosophy; Søren Kierkegaard; Shaun Tan; Lone Munksgaard Nielsen; Pia Thaulov

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Barnboken – Journal of Children's Literature Research eISSN 2000-4389
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