Taming transgression. Literary representations of Cain

Krzysztof Gajewski

Abstract


The aim of this article is to analyze and interpret way in which a topos of Cain was evoked in literary works and other texts of culture in the light of the concept of transgression. An approach adapted in analysis will be inspired by comparative hermeneutics, yet not only literary contexts will be taken into consideration, but also religious, philosophical, and scientific ones. In the very structure of the topos one can discern a series of binary oppositions, which become valuated in various ways in different historical contexts. It is above all the opposition between destructive and constructive component of the theme. Interpretations of the topos in the works of George Byron, Władysław Orkan, and Jerzy Andrzejewski are discussed deeper. The analysis leads to the conclusion that in the historical development of a significant change in its valuation is taking place. Regarded as a symbol of evil in the Middle Ages, it is ennobled as a patron of rebels, reformers and creators in the twentieth century.

Keywords


transgression; Cain; Bible; topos; comparative studies

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