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Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the…

Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West (1985)

by Cormac McCarthy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,766162546 (4.2)285
  1. 90
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (dmsteyn)
    dmsteyn: Judge Holden's character was based on the monomaniacal Captain Ahab of Melville's novel.
  2. 60
    All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (sturlington)
  3. 10
    Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (GCPLreader)
    GCPLreader: contrast Blood Meridian to Cather's moving, more gentle tale of honorable wanderings of priests in new mexico in 1850's
  4. 01
    Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (WSB7)
    WSB7: Strong perspectival imagery overhanging(pursuing?)a doomed hero.
  5. 01
    The Life and Times of Captain N. by Douglas J. Glover (Sethgsamuel)
    Sethgsamuel: Shamelessly violent, very poetic and beautiful western.
1980s (9)

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English (151)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (162)
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
Blood Meridian is the epic novel of our time, not for its length but for its vast scope and great depth. What is often said is that is a violent book, extremely violent even. That is so, but its violence is not sensational, rather it is grotesque in the manner of a painting by Bosch or Goya. McCarthy takes historical record, because for all of its poetry and wondrous language this novel is not only well plotted but its background is also meticulously researched, and turns that record into a work of great and terrible drama of the highest order. One can note that this novel is by a prominent American novelist, perhaps its best that is living now, and also note that it is a Western. With that in mind, the reader can see that beyond its depictions of bloody desert massacres and saloon brawls, with its cast of often horrible and almsot otherworldly characters, that it is a story about both the baseness and decency of man, about the hatred and hunger and also yearning of human beings. This is not just the admittedly apocryphal realm of the Old West, some dreamed land of gunfighters and thieves and wildness, but the same land today resting in modernity, from Nacogdoches to San Diego. Men are are no better or worse now. They are still caught in the mesh of good and evil, or at least the epistemilogicall turmoil of what these terms mean, and what acts mean in their reality or their denial.

The Kid is an everyman, marked seemingly by coldness and taken to violence, but readers might note him bent over the old women who sits still in the stands, him calling her Abuelita saying she must go along with him so that she might survive, yet she is a husk. His tenderness, when it is given, is without meaning. A saddening futility. Such is mirrored in the chaos and oddity of the Judge. I hesitate to say he is a representation of the devil. Rather he might represent a sort of demiurge, a being of great power and ego that hints omnipotence. He in turn aides and annihilates, and is as chaotic as the events that unfold around him and his company or the harsh natural world which they traverse. Does he represent the devil, or a malevolent god? We might look at the epigraph from Boehme and reconsider. The Judge, in his impartiality and madness is perhaps but a mirror of the chaos that is the world, chaos that is so magnified in the prose here. From this chaos, men bore out their innermost wickedness, or strength, but at last they find no soothing answer in it, and they go on, into the shadowed horizon. ( )
  poetontheone | Aug 14, 2015 |
An absolutely harrowing novel that makes you feel like you yourself have spent months tramping around the arid wastelands of what is now the US-Mexican borderland. It’s the kind of novel that leaves you feeling you need a good scour in the shower even though something tells you no amount of scrubbing will get you clean.

Leaving a miserable childhood, “the kid” wanders away from home to fall in with the infamous (and actual) Glanton Gang of mercenaries. Ostensibly hired by the Mexican government to combat the threat of marauding indigenous Apaches, the gang slaughter pretty much everything in their path knowing that those paying them bounty will not be able to identify the individual scalps.

This is not a tale of lost innocence, for there is no innocence to lose. Each and every character lives a life moulded by suffering, pain and immense cruelty. McCarthy writes scenes of what should be unutterable violence, painted with prose that is at once brutal but also, strangely, beautiful.

"…the riders were beginning to appear far out on the lake bed, a thin frieze of mounted archers that trembled and vanished in the rising heat. They crossed before the sun and vanished one by one and reappeared again and they were black in the sun and they rode out of that vanished sea like burnt phantoms with the legs of the animals kicking up the spume that was not real and they were lost in the sun and lost in the lake and they shimmered and slurred together and separated again and they augmented by planes in lurid avatars and began to coalesce and there began to appear above them in the dawn-broached sky a hellish likeness of their ranks riding huge and inverted and the horses’ legs incredibly elongate trampling down the high thin cirrus and the howling antiwarriors pendant from their mounts immense and chimeric and the high wild cries carrying that flat and barren pan like cries of souls broke through some misweave in the weft of things into the world below."

No one reading this can fail to see what should be so obvious from all westerns that go before it: there is no romance in violence, and no heroism in the worlds the white man imposed on the inhabitants of the Americas. There is only fear kept at bay by the barrel of a gun and the novel speaks not only of the birth pangs of nations, but moreover their maintenance.

And the landscape watches on, imposing its own brutality on humanity with its salt flats, snow-strewn mountains and every imaginable type of desert. I was somewhat relieved to find that the landscape that McCarthy describes, despite the atrocities wreaked upon its surface and the blood that seeps into its cracks, remains inviolable and retains its purity. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jul 25, 2015 |
39. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985, 337 page paperback, Read June 7 - July 5)
Rating: 4.5 stars

I'm struggling on how to review this, or even how to approach a review.

The kid was born in 1833 in Tennessee, exactly 100 years before McCarthy, who grew up in and had lived most of his life in Tennessee. So, in 1848, when this alter-ego begins his wanders through American and Mexican deserts, party to and witness of massacres, in the era and territory of Kit Carson, he is about 15, and he's already been shot once.

Only now is the child finally divested of all that he has been. His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world's turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to a man's will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay.

He winds up with a group of Indian hunters, led by Glanton, who is wanted in Texas. The group includes a handful of Delaware Indians, one Mexican, two Jacksons, one black and spiritual and surreal, and ex-priest, various veterans and outlaws, and the Judge, Judge Holden. The Judge is seven feet tall, free of any hair, even eyelashes and immensely strong. He speaks several languages, has distinct formal and elegant manner, references classics, and carries a notebook in which he constantly records what he sees, then generally destroys it. Wikipedia tells me he is the 43rd greatest character in fiction since 1900.

I guess this book is about the Judge.

The killers wander through no man's land hunting down a different kind of killer. This was a territory haunted by Indians. Mexicans and the violent Indian tribes constantly raided, captured, tortured and killed each other, and neither could control the other. Mexican towns existed in fear. Indian tribal societies were structured on their warriors, or lack of them. McCarthy takes no sides. He only hunts down gore, ritual and a coldest of philosophy. The wild Americans slaughter through until they basically run out of territory.

I read this always with my iPhone and it's app The Free Dictionary and always noting words in my notes app. I read it in a kind of hypnotic detachment, observing the violence, but lost in the rhythmic text, thinking about the words, and the Judge.

In the days to come they would ride up through a country where the rocks would cook the flesh from your hand and where other than rock nothing was. They rode in narrow enfilade along a trail strewn with the dry round turds of goats and they rode with their faces averted from the rock wall and the bake-oven air which it rebated, the slant black shapes of the mounted men stenciled across the stone with a definition austere and implacable like shapes capable of violating their covenant with the flesh that authored them and continuing autonomous across the naked rock without reference to sun or man or god.

McCarthy goes out his way to find something to bother the reader. The dead babies handing off the trees come on page 57. The reader knows what he or she is in for. There are few kindnesses here and little hope.

...the ragged flames fled down the wind as if sucked by some maelstrom out there in the void, some vortex in that waste apposite to which man’s transit and his reckonings alike lay abrogate.

It's also surreal. I don't want to overstate that. The book is steeped in fact. The places are real and aptly described, and the characters often have an aspect of documented truth to their actual existence. But, it doesn't feel real, and I don't think we are supposed to see this as a real world. I have wondered what McCarthy is saying to us with his Judge and his American slaughterers taking as they wish. I can't be sure the Judge is the same guy in Ezekiel who, with his notebook, marks the few who will survive the destruction of Jerusalem, and then takes the burning coals to set the city on fire, but I can't see him as human. And I wonder what he is judging, and he leaves me feeling judged and condemned.

I think McCarthy has given us an odd creation, an unorthodox and detached condemnation, and call too see things in some other way, some way that we would rather not look into. ( )
  dchaikin | Jul 16, 2015 |
In my arrogance as a writer, I feel that I can mimic the styles and structures of a great many of my favorite authors. There is one exception: McCarthy, because he stands head and shoulders above the rest of his contemporaries. It is not hyperbolic to say that the last of his equals probably died more than a half century ago. This book left me astonished by the skill of his prose, horrified at the overwhelming and brutal violence, bewildered at his thesaurus-busting metaphors, amazed at his attention to detail - the contours of a ray of light, the sand in the fold of a garment, stupored during the day as I obsessed over the book in my mind, delighted over his neo-compound words, gasping at the concretely built character personalities and arcs, and amazed at the heaviness and weariness of it all. This is going to haunt me for a long time, and it's going to improve my writing, but it's an awfully high bar to reach, and there are few in history who have reached that high. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West. Cormac McCarthy. 1985. Vile, evil, depraved, violent, crazy, funny are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of this book. If Picasso had painted “Guernica” in red, orange, and black it would almost be an artistic representation of this book. I have never read anything like it! It was exhausting to read. And it is based on fact! A teenage boy joins the Glanton gang, a group of scalp hunters who roamed the west hunting Indians to scalp; eventually they scalped, violated or murdered any person or animal they came across, and eventually they are all murdered except The Boy and the Judge. The final meeting of the Boy and the judge concludes the book. It has been compared to Moby Dick and is on several “best” or “greatest” book lists. I am glad I read it and embarrassed that I found the grotesque violence funny at times. I may actually read Moby Dick ( )
  judithrs | May 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
This latest book is his most important, for it puts in perspective the Faulknerian language and unprovoked violence running through the previous works, which were often viewed as exercises in style or studies of evil. ''Blood Meridian'' makes it clear that all along Mr. McCarthy has asked us to witness evil not in order to understand it but to affirm its inexplicable reality; his elaborate language invents a world hinged between the real and surreal, jolting us out of complacency.
added by eereed | editNew York Times, Caryn James (Apr 28, 1985)

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cormac McCarthyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Montanari, RaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sivill, KaijamariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time.

-- Paul Valery
It is not to be thought that the life of darkness is sunk in misery and lost as if in sorrowing. There is no sorrowing. For sorrow is a thing that is swallowed up in death, and death and dying are the very life of the darkness.

-- Jacob Boehme
Clark, who led last year's expedition to the Afar region of northern Ethiopia, and UC Berkeley colleague Tim D. White, also said that a re-examination of a 300,000-year-old fossil skull found in the same region earlier shows evidence of having been scalped.

-- The Yuma Daily Sun, June 13, 1982
The author wishes to thank the Lyndhurst Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He also wishes to express his appreciation to Albert Erskine, his editor of twenty years.
First words
See the child.
It was a lone tree burning on the desert. A heraldic tree that the passing storm had left afire. The solitary pilgrim drawn up before it had traveled far to be here and he knelt in the hot sand and held his numbed hands out while all about in that circle attended companies of lesser auxiliaries routed forth into the inordinate day, small owls that crouched silently and stood from foot to foot and tarantulas and solpugas and vinegarroons and the vicious mygale spiders and beaded lizards with mouths black as a chowdog’s, deadly to man, and the little desert basilisks that jet blood from their eyes and the small sandvipers like seemly gods, silent and the same, in Jeda, in Babylon. A constellation of ignited eyes that edged the ring of light all bound in a precarious truce before this torch whose brightness had set back the stars in their sockets.
The men as they rode turned black in the sun from the blood on their clothes and their faces and then paled slowly in the rising dust until they assumed once more the color of the land through which they passed.
A man's at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he dont want to. Rightly so. Best not to look in there. It aint the heart of a creature that is bound in the way that God has set for it. You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil that can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it. You believe that?
Every man in the company claims to have encountered that sootysouled rascal in some other place.
But dont draw me, said Webster. For I dont want in your book.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679728759, Paperback)

"The men as they rode turned black in the sun from the blood on their clothes and their faces and then paled slowly in the rising dust until they assumed once more the color of the land through which they passed." If what we call "horror" can be seen as including any literature that has dark, horrific subject matter, then Blood Meridian is, in this reviewer's estimation, the best horror novel ever written. It's a perverse, picaresque Western about bounty hunters for Indian scalps near the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s--a ragged caravan of indiscriminate killers led by an unforgettable human monster called "The Judge." Imagine the imagery of Sam Peckinpah and Heironymus Bosch as written by William Faulkner, and you'll have just an inkling of this novel's power. From the opening scenes about a 14-year-old Tennessee boy who joins the band of hunters to the extraordinary, mythic ending, this is an American classic about extreme violence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:18 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Based on incidents that took place in the southwestern United States and Mexico around 1850, this novel chronicles the crimes of a band of desperados, with a particular focus on one, "the kid," a boy of fourteen.

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