Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Adam and Eve

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As key players in the Judeo-Christian Creation Myth, Adam and Eve are allegorical figures of considerable significance, and their Serpent-assisted Original Sin and subsequent expulsion from Eden have been examined from every possible philosophical angle in literary works of all kinds. Problematic aspects of the story's moral are clear even in such apologetic analyses as John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667), but it was not until the late 19th century that a more robust and challenging scepticism emerged in such works as Rémy de Gourmont's Lilith (1892), which may have provided an exemplar for George MacDonald's Lilith (1895). The addition of Lilith – Adam's alleged first wife, not recorded in Genesis but acknowledged in some apocryphal versions – gives an extra twist to the dynamics of the Fall that was further exploited in John Erskine's Satire on sexual mores Adam and Eve (1927), which extended a series of US burlesques begun with Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The New Adam and Eve" (1843) and Mark Twain's Extracts from Adam's Diary (1893; 1904 chap) and Eve's Diary (1905 chap). UK sarcastic fantasies of a broadly similar kind include the first part of George Bernard Shaw's Back to Methuselah (1921) and Rudyard Kipling's "The Enemies to Each Other" (1924). More contemplative deployments of the myth can be found in C L Moore's "Fruit of Knowledge" (1940), The Cool of the Evening (1942) by Horace Horsnell (1882-1949), C S Lewis's Perelandra (1943), The Windfall: A Fable (1985 chap) by Christopher Milne (1920-1996) and John Crowley's "The Nightingale Sings at Night" (1989). Stories in which the situation is metaphorically recreated are numerous. Many modern commentators on the myth have observed that part of its function is to put the blame for the iniquities of the human condition on female shoulders. [BS]


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.