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Blood meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Blood meridian (original 1985; edition 2010)

by Cormac McCarthy

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7,270184490 (4.18)315
Title:Blood meridian
Authors:Cormac McCarthy
Info:London : Picador, 2010.
Collections:Your library

Work details

Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy (1985)

  1. 110
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (dmsteyn)
    dmsteyn: Judge Holden's character was based on the monomaniacal Captain Ahab of Melville's novel.
  2. 70
    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. 11
    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 (4)
To Read (137)

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English (174)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  English (185)
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
Oh my! From the meteor shower that heralds his birth to the similar cosmic event years later that suggests he has reached his full orbit, we follow The Kid (latterly, The Man) from his rough home in Tennessee to a rougher home on the road in the American southwest in 1849. One violent act follows close upon another as The Kid lends his allegiance initially to Toadvine and eventually to “Captain” Glanton, a murderous leader of a scalping party that goes bad (if that doesn’t sound like a contradiction). And always, hovering on the edge of the action is The Judge, a malicious provocateur, larger than life in size but also in breadth of interest, learning, experience, and contemplation. The Kid, wisely, is cautious of The Judge. But that does not prevent his participation in the symphony of brutality that will follow. It is unrelenting, always moving forward, always exceeding one’s expectation as to the limits of the actors’ depravity.

McCarthy’s writing here — in diction, tone, and structure — is like the oil from which a great artist paints a portrait. Everything depends upon it as substrate, but how exactly it achieves its ends, both monumental and particular, is obscure. It is immersive. It entirely envelops you as you follow The Kid’s trail. And at some point you hardly even notice the arcane locutions, the quasi-biblical descriptions, the obscure technical argot of mid-19th century violence. I was overwhelmed.

More difficult is the reckoning that might be made of Blood Meridian. It is certainly awesome, in many senses of that word. It presents a world so steeped in violence and corruption as to be nearly unbelievable. And yet is it unbelievable? Is it even far-fetched? When we look around us, there seem to be no depths we will not plumb. I’m left thinking that the novel is all too real. So horrific that we are forced to take aesthetic pleasure, perhaps, in the evening redness of humanity. Well, clearly reading such a novel infects my writing about it. By all means, read it. But read it with care and caution. And perhaps do a few calisthenics beforehand.

Recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Nov 9, 2016 |
3.5 stars rounded to 4. So violent, it was hard to read at times, but McCarthy is such a great writer. There's a lot to think about here. ( )
  tstan | Sep 4, 2016 |
Cormac McCarthy certainly knows how to tell a story and to tell it well, but, boy, was this a difficult book to get through due its brutality and body count. The narrative features a gang of Americans between the Mexican and US Civil Wars hired by Mexicans to kill Apaches. The gang does that with violent abandon then "goes rogue" (though it is dominated by rogues from the beginning) and is likely as not to kill anybody who gets in their way. McCarthy's style is to tell the story without sensationalism, but its matter-of-factness almost makes the profligate killing feel even more brutal.

This is a gang that would take the Mexican bandits in The Magnificent Seven and have them for breakfast. As if it isn't evident that the band is evil enough, McCarthy even has them scalping children and shooting puppies. "Enough already!" I almost wanted to scream.

I certainly enjoyed McCarthy's atmospheric writing. And if the lesson to be taken away is that a man can be a brutal son-of-a-bitch, he succeeded at that, too. ( )
  kvrfan | Aug 19, 2016 |
and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and


Harold Bloom said that this book is the genre-ending final expression of the Western. I guess so, assuming it was a murder-suicide situation.

Before I started, I was very excited to read this. Based on the praise, I had hoped it would become my newest favorite. It started out well enough, but after the kid joined up with Glanton's band of indiscriminately murderous pals, the majority of the book became a repetitive slog of trips across the desert and scalp-hunting massacres. Some of the descriptions of the bleak landscape were finely crafted and beautiful; more, however, were overwrought pilings of similes that obscured rather than illuminated. Much of the action is depicted in handfuls of short, impersonal phrases strung together with "and," whether or not it makes descriptive sense. This technique is applied both to the ordinary actions of the gang and to the scenes of their violence, resulting in the mundane being overly detailed and boring, while the violence becomes oddly distant and dreamlike, leaving me without much reaction at all to the gore and deaths.

In the last few chapters, McCarthy finally cuts back somewhat on the lingual histrionics and lets the plot move without being so weighed down. If the entire book had been written in this style, it would've left breathing room for the truly great images to be appreciated. Unfortunately, too much of the book is an eye-rolling morass of pretension.

Such a letdown. ( )
1 vote xicohtli | Jul 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (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 (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cormac McCarthyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bloom, HaroldIntroductionsecondary authorsome 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)

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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.

(summary from another edition)

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