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Justice and Redemption

Anthropological Realities and Literary Visions by Ivan Cankar

Irena Avsenik Nabergoj

The book shows Ivan Cankar (1876–1918) as the first Slovenian writer to examine the human conscience, justice, guilt and punishment in a way comparable to Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and influenced also by the Bible. Given Cankar’s own bitter childhood experience of poverty and his awareness of the ceaseless injustice which rules the world, he has compassion for the wrongdoings carried out by people from lower social realms, especially children, and is all the more critical towards higher classes who cause their suffering. In his last book, Dream Visions, he reveals his experience of the First World War. He encompasses feelings of fear and anguish before death and surpasses them with the faith in redemption of all suffering people.
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3. The Question of Religiosity in Ivan Cankar’s Writings


← 62 | 63 → 3.The Question of Religiosity in Ivan Cankar’s Writings The Question of Religiosity in Ivan Cankar’s Writings

Cankar’s religiosity shows forth in all of his creative periods with an exquisite sensitivity for all the unethical acts he encountered in life. Given his acute sense of justice and the need to respect others, he was at first critical towards the Catholic Church; he turned away from it when still young and often accused it especially of curtailing freedom (see the epilogue to Erotica, 1902) and hypocrisy. In the autobiographical narratives of his Ljubljana period, he discovers that it was on account of his spiritual doubts that he felt guilty before God and his mother, who had advised him to pray. Although Cankar believed in God, his faith was different from his mother’s. He had his own conception of God and was convinced that this conception was more real than that of others who attended church. When his mother drummed religious dogma into him, he always thought that something else, something mysterious existed, of which traditional believers were not yet aware. Burdened by his mother’s demands and her image of God, he experienced tremendous guilt, believing that God had rejected him because he could not serve in the inured Christian humility and atonement, instead rebelling against this in his thinking and being angered at Him, as if at himself.

3.1The Question of Religiosity in Cankar’s Letters to His Brother Karlo Cankar (Priest)

Cankar most sharply...

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