The Novels (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
The Tobias trilogy, to which Pär Lagerkvist gave the title Pilgrimen (the pilgrim), is a continuation of two earlier novels, Barabbas (1950; English translation, 1951) and Sibyllan (1956; The Sibyl, 1958). In those two novels, Barabbas and Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew in The Sibyl, both wander away from the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion in quest of spiritual peace. Each, in his own way, is seeking death; more precisely, each is seeking to have truly lived, so that he can truly die. Their quest is continued in the persons of Giovanni and Tobias in the Tobias trilogy. Variously and at different personal levels, Barabbas, Ahasuerus, and Giovanni succeed in the quest. Tobias alone succeeds transcendently and seemingly in full. Together, the five novels constitute a pentalogy or, since the pentalogy begins and ends in the context of the three crosses on Calvary, a crucifixion cycle.
Ahasuerus in both The Sibyl and The Death of Ahasuerus is, apart from the second title, not named; he is called simply “the stranger” or is referred to only as a man. Like Barabbas, he has been caught in an association with Christ, which has propelled him into a lifeless existence of wandering. For each man, the wandering ends in a death implicit with having lived, a death that proves to have been the object of a troubled quest.
In The Sibyl, Ahasuerus moves westward from Palestine to Greece....
(The entire section is 1755 words.)
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