Sunday, 2 April 2017

Different Uses Of The Bible In Fiction II

Poul Anderson wrote both fantasy and hard sf whereas CS Lewis wrote both fantasy and soft sf. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles and Perelandra (Interplanetary Trilogy, Vol II) assume the literal truth of the Adam and Eve story. The history of Narnia parallels the Biblical Creation, Resurrection and Judgement. Human beings are received in Narnia as Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve; the Witch is descended from Adam's second wife, Lilith. The temptation of Eve is replayed in Perelandra/Venus; Vol III replays the Curse of Babel in post-War Britain.

Authors of graphic fantasies can match the Bible for supernatural drama:

in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, the Biblical Cain resides in Morpheus' realm, the Dreaming, because in Genesis 4.16, he went to the land of Nod;

in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, the Original Darkness that was before the Creation, conjured by magicians, emerges from the Chaos beyond Hell and advances towards Heaven...

Thus, so far, Poul Anderson's time travellers visit Biblical periods and fantasy authors extrapolate the Biblical narrative. Meanwhile, characters in contemporary fiction can quote the Bible to powerful effect. In Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a girl who has disappeared had kept a list of names followed by what look like phone numbers: Magda - 32016; Sara - 32109 etc. Michael Blomkvist, investigating the disappearance, hangs the list on his wall. When Blomkvist's daughter visits, she advises him to keep up his Biblical studies. Then he realizes that 32016 means Leviticus 20.16 etc. Next he learns that women called Magda, Sara etc have been murdered in ways corresponding to the horrific executions prescribed in these Biblical passages...

And it was rereading Larsson that made me reflect on the diverse literary uses of the Bible, starting with Poul Anderson's Time Patrol.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

As you know, I don't care much for most recent "mainstream" fiction, finding it boring. But this use of the Bible by Stieg Larsson was interesting.