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Lord Byron (1788—1824) poet

John Murray (1778—1843)


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Cain: A Mystery

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A verse drama in three acts by Byron, published 1821. Cain, bewildered by the toil imposed upon him by another's fault, is confronted by Lucifer, who teaches him to question the wicked works and ways of God, the ‘Omnipotent tyrant’. Byron's bold intellectual speculations on the origins of matter and life are displayed as Lucifer takes Cain on a dazzling tour of the cosmos: they visit earlier worlds and contemplate the populous realm of the dead. Cain curses his parents and ‘He who invented life that leads to death’. This powerful and spirited enquiry into original sin, heredity, free will, and predestination caused intense indignation, and the publisher, John Murray, was threatened with prosecution. Byron diplomatically denied that the views represented were his own.

Subjects: Literature

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