Kierkegaard's early ‘aesthetic’ works, published under pseudonyms, exemplify the ‘indirect’ approach which he was so fond of. The reader is invited to participate in contrasting visions as if he or she were entering the minds of characters portrayed in a novel or play. ‘Modes of existence’ looks at Kierkegaard's three basic modes or ‘spheres’ of existence: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. These three categories are deceptively wide-ranging. In each case the attitudes show considerable variations, reflecting not only Kierkegaard's perception of contemporary cultural trends but also the complex patterns of his own history and development.