Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Mark Of Cain

Poul Anderson's fiction addresses religious beliefs and theological issues but how often does it use specifically Biblical images or symbols? I ask this because the mark of Cain is seen in works by two authors whom we compare with Anderson: Neil Gaiman and John C. Wright. In Wright's The Golden Age, the mark is:

"...a ghastly triple scar burned into his forehead." (p. 72)

In Gaiman's The Sandman: Season Of Mists, Morpheus, communicating formally with the Lord of Hell, sends the only messenger whom Lucifer will not harm. Lucifer pulls back the hair from Cain's forehead, revealing for the only time - a branded circle.

So there is plenty of scope for authors of imaginative fiction to revisit the familiar Biblical landscape. Cain's mark with all its implications is one of many details.

Addendum: I should have referenced Anderson's many Biblical quotations. See here. Nevertheless, what I meant was not quotes inside inverted commas but allusions embedded in Anderson's texts. This might lead to another post.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Your last paragraph beat me to pointing out how often Poul Anderson quoted from the Bible in his works! But he did use ALLUSIONS as well as direct quotes. This is what I read in Chapter II of A CIRCUS OF HELLS, as Dominic Flandry was being directed to Leon Ammmon's office: ' "Six-six-six," murmured Flandry, who had read more than was common in his service. "Is Citizen Ammon a humorist, do you think?" ' And we both know where "666" came from!


    1. Sean,
      That is indeed the sort of reference I was after.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      I was glad to be able to find and quote such an allusion from Anderson's works!