Cain, or the Secularization of Myth
The expressionist theatre was a response to an ideological and religious crisis of values. Transcendence, rejected in the age of rationalism not only by science, but also, paradoxically, by religion itself, has become a reference point for renegade artists. The continuing secularization of the Church was a logical result of the rejection of the dogmas imposed by the fathers in charge of the ossified institutions.
“Ah! race of Abel, your carcass Will fertilize the steaming soil!
Race of Cain, your appointed task Has not been adequately done;
Race of Abel, your disgrace is: The sword is conquered by the pike!
Race of Cain, ascend to heaven, And cast God down upon the earth!”
William Aggeler, (Charles Baudelaire), The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)
There have been many different interpretations of the story of Cain over the centuries and the very character has been the inspiration for a number of literary works. Writers usually tried to copy very faithfully the biblical story, just like Victor Hugo in La Légende des siècles. With the crisis (at the beginning of the 20th century) which gave rise to ‘the physiological decadence of Europe’ as described by Nietzsche and ‘the ontological emptiness’ introduced later on by Ionesco, there was a breakdown in the scientific and religious values, and man was deprived of any refuge. Even his mental integrity turned out to be a very tenuous...
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