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Saramago’s Reshaping of Cain and God. A Study in Characterization and Intertextuality

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on two important concepts: characterization and intertextuality from the biblical story. It analyses the roles attributed to Cain and God in José Saramago's novel. The chapter contrasts his book with Genesis 4, taking into account not only the version from the Hebrew Bible but also that in the Septuagint. It explores how the Septuagint's view of Cain and Abel is developed in the New Testament. The chapter describes how Saramago's image of Cain and God relates to this colorful interpretation history. Cain is described as having a close relationship with God from his birth (4:1), and as a man whose profession links him to the soil. Saramago gives an idiosyncratic interpretation of Genesis 4:1-16. Even more than through the tradition, the images in Saramago's novel can be understood from contemporary ideas on the relationship between man and God and on the role of religion in society.

Keywords: Abel; Cain; Genesis 4; Hebrew Bible; José Saramago; New Testament; Septuagint



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