An unorthodox itinerary takes him to decadent cities and stables, palaces of tyrants and battlefields, led by the hand of the central characters of the Old Testament, with the music and refined humor that are the hallmark of his work. Cain clearly demonstrates the modern and surprising aspects of Saramago's prose: the ability to weave a completely new tale out of a story we all know. An ironic and satirical journey where the reader is present at a secular—and in a way, involuntary—battle between the creator and his creature. Teatro completo. Convert currency. Add to Basket.
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From the texts which, over the centuries, have provided a somewhat random record of those remote times, be it of events that might, at some future date, be awarded canonical status and others deemed to be the fruit of apocryphal and irredeemably heretical imaginations, it is not at all clear what kind of tongue was being referred to here, whether the moist, flexible muscle that moves around in the buccal cavity and occasionally outside it too, or the gift of speech, also known as language, that the lord had so regrettably forgotten to give them and about which we know nothing, since not a trace of it remains, not even a heart engraved on the bark of a tree, accompanied by some sentimental message, something along the lines of I love eve.
Well, anything is possible. The lord was satisfied and bade farewell with a fatherly See you later, then, and went about his business. Before seth came into the world, cain had already arrived, followed, shortly afterwards, by abel.
By the way, one must not underestimate the intense boredom of all those years spent without neighbors, without distractions, without some small child crawling about between kitchen and living room, with no other visitors but the lord, and even his visits were few and very brief, interspersed by long intervals of absence, ten, fifteen, twenty, fifty years, so we can easily imagine that the sole occupants of that earthly paradise must have felt like poor orphans abandoned in the forest of the universe, not that they would have been able to explain what the words orphan and abandoned meant.
In such situations, there are those who say that a child can have an enlivening effect, if not on the libido, which is the work of chemicals far more complex than merely learning how to change a diaper, then at least on feelings, which, you must admit, is no small gain. As for the lord and his sporadic visits, the first was to see if adam and eve had had any problems setting up house, the second to find out what benefits they had gleaned from their experience of country life and the third to warn them that he would not be back for a while, because he had to do the rounds of the other paradises that exist in the heavens.
Indeed, he would not appear again until much later, on a date that has not been recorded, in order to expel the unhappy couple from the garden of eden for the heinous crime of having eaten of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This episode, which gave rise to the first definition of a hitherto unknown concept, original sin, has never been satisfactorily explained.
Firstly, even the most rudimentary of intelligences would have no difficulty in grasping that being properly informed about something is always preferable to being ignorant, especially in such delicate matters as good and evil, which could put anyone at risk, quite unwittingly, of being consigned to eternal damnation in a hell that had not yet been invented.
A point of order. Before we continue with this instructive and definitive history of cain, undertaken with unprecedented boldness, it might be advisable to introduce some clarity into the chronology of events.
It is, moreover, worth remembering that adam lived until he was nine hundred and thirty years old, thus narrowly missing being drowned in the great flood, for he died when lamech was still alive, lamech being the father of noah, the future builder of the ark. He would, therefore, have had the time and leisure to make all the children he did make and many more if he had so wished.
There are those who say that the idea of creating a religion was born in his head, but we have given abundant attention to such ticklish matters in the past, with reprehensible levity, according to some experts, and in terms that will doubtless prove deleterious to us when it comes to the final judgment at which everyone will be condemned, either for doing too much or too little. Now before we forget about it completely or before our continuation of the story renders the fact redundant because it comes too late, we will tell you about the stealthy, almost clandestine visit the lord made to the garden of eden one hot summer night.
As usual, adam and eve were sleeping, naked, beside each other, not touching, a deceptively edifying image of the most perfect innocence. They did not wake up, and the lord did not wake them either. He had gone there with the intention of correcting a slight flaw, which, as he had finally realized, seriously marred his creations, and that flaw, can you believe it, was the lack of a navel.
The pale skin of his babies, untouched by the gentle sun of paradise, was too naked, too vulnerable, and in a way obscene, if that word existed then.
The same procedure, carried out on eve, produced similar results, with the one important difference that her navel was much better as regards design, shape and the delicacy of its folds. This was the last time that the lord looked upon his work and saw that it was good. Fifty years and one day after this fortunate surgical intervention, which gave rise to a new era in the aesthetics of the human body under the consensual motto that everything about it can always be improved, disaster struck.
With a crack of thunder, the lord appeared. He was dressed differently from usual, in keeping perhaps with what would become the new imperial fashion in heaven, wearing a triple crown on his head and wielding a scepter as if it were a cudgel.
I am the lord, he cried, I am he. A mortal silence fell over the garden of eden, not a sound, not even the buzz of a wasp, the barking of a dog, the trilling of a bird, or the trumpeting of an elephant. Nothing, only the chattering of a flock of starlings that had congregated in a leafy olive tree, there since the garden was first created, and which suddenly took flight as one, so many, hundreds, if not thousands of them, that they nearly obscured the sky.
Who has disobeyed my orders, who has eaten of the fruit of my tree, asked god, fixing adam with a look that can only be described as coruscating, a word which, though highly expressive, has sadly fallen out of use. In desperation, the poor man tried in vain to swallow the telltale piece of apple, but his voice refused to come out, neither fore nor aft. Answer, said the angry voice of the lord, who was brandishing his scepter in a most threatening manner. Plucking up his courage, and conscious of how wrong it was to put the blame on someone else, adam said, The woman you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of that tree and I did eat.
That said, the lord plucked out of the air a couple of animal skins to cover the nakedness of adam and eve, who exchanged knowing winks, for they had known they were naked from the very first day and had made the most of it too.
Then the lord said, In knowing good and evil, man has become like a god, and if you were to eat of the fruit of the tree of life you would gain eternal life, whatever next, two gods in one universe, that is why I am expelling you and your wife from the garden of eden, at whose gate I will place an angel armed with a flaming sword, who will let no one enter, now go, leave, I never want to see you again.
Bearing on their backs the stinking animal hides, staggering along on unsteady legs, adam and eve resembled two orangutans who had stood upright for the first time. Outside of the garden of eden, the earth was arid and inhospitable, the lord was not exaggerating when he threatened adam with thorns and thistles.
As he had so rightly said, the good life was over. Far from merely inverting the biblical tales or turning them inside out, he folds and refolds them in a prismatic, shadowly light.
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Show More. Read an Excerpt 1 When the lord, also known as god, realized that adam and eve, although perfect in every outward aspect, could not utter a word or make even the most primitive of sounds, he must have felt annoyed with himself, for there was no one else in the garden of eden whom he could blame for this grave oversight, after all, the other animals, who were, like the two humans, the product of his divine command, already had a voice of their own, be it a bellow, a roar, a croak, a chirp, a whistle or a cackle.
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