|Publisher||Albert Bonniers förlag|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-7011-0879-7 (1975 hardcover)|
Barabbas is a 1950 novel by Pär Lagerkvist. It tells a version of the life of Barabbas, the man whom the Bible relates was released instead of Jesus. The novel is built on antithesis: Jesus dies first among the three crucified - Barabbas dies last. Jesus dies among several of his friends - Barabbas dies alone. Jesus talks to God - Barabbas talks to the darkness. The novel starts and ends with a crucifixion, starting with Jesus' crucifixion and ending with Barabbas' crucifixion in Rome.
Jesus is crucified on Mount Golgotha. To the side of the crowd stands Barabbas. Being a violent man, a brigand and a rebel, he cannot muster much respect for the resignation of the man who died in his place. He is skeptical about the holiness of Jesus too. Yet, he is also fascinated by the sacrifice and he seeks out the different followers of Jesus trying to understand, but finds that their exalted views of Jesus do not match his down to earth observation of the man. More importantly, since Barabbas had not ever been the recipient of love (the cornerstone of the Christian faith), he finds that he is unable to understand love and hence Barabbas is unable to understand the Christian faith. Barabbas says that he "Wants to believe," but for Barabbas, understanding is a prerequisite for belief, so he is unable. Enslaved, shackled to another named Sahak, and condemned to work in the notoriously life-shortening, and infernal, copper mines of ancient Rome, Barabbas has an extraordinary crisis of faith, the exact nature of which is elucidated with the final portion of the novel. Barabbas' ultimate loyalties lie with the opaque, remorseless void that fed and surrounded his former life, manifested in the darkness of the night of his execution, which he surrenders himself to with his final breath.
During his life Pär Lagerkvist struggled with his lack of faith. In the novel Barabbas too is a man who does not understand Jesus and does not know how to love him. The novel presents many Christians with some wrong concepts of the faith as negative examples, to bring out the message about how to love Jesus.
Film and theatrical adaptations
- The novel was turned into a film by Dino De Laurentiis in 1961, starring Anthony Quinn.
- Made into a theatrical play in 1953
- Literary Analysis: Barabbas, Religion and Government
- Watch Online Barabbas - includes storyline and visitor's reviews
- Nobel Award Ceremony speech
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