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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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14. Searching for God of Justice and Redemption in the Collection Behind the Cross (1909)


← 203 | 204 → 14.Searching for God of Justice and Redemption in the Collection Behind the Cross (1909)

Behind the Cross is a collection of novellas, sketches and other short prose written around 1903. In terms of social content and ideals, the collection is harmoniously linked with Cankar’s tale The Bailiff Yerney and His Rights. It contains a wealth of Biblical motifs, which are distilled into the framework of the ethical thematic of sin, guilt, punishment and forgiveness, as well as revealing Cankar’s personal dismay at and empathy for all humiliated people.

14.1Suffering, the Consequences of a Judgement and Redemption in the Sketch “Behind the Cross”

The title story “Behind the Cross” (1909) serves as an introduction to the collection. Cankar created the tale by making some changes to “The Procession of Christ,” an earlier sketch that was published in the newspaper Rdeci prapor [The Red Banner] in April 1907, two weeks before the May elections. He gave it a new title and tailored it to become the introductory sketch. He wrote the original during an extremely contested election campaign, which is why it is included among his political articles and satires, speeches and lectures in his Collected Works. The editors, Dušan Voglar in Dušan Moravec, stated themselves that “such an ordering … is open to debate, since it is clearly an artistic work, and not at all satirical or polemical in design .. ,”69

In the sketch “Behind the Cross” Cankar, in lieu...

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