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Blood meridian by Cormac McCarthy
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Blood meridian (original 1985; edition 2010)

by Cormac McCarthy

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,350146615 (4.21)235
Member:kemerbigsikter
Title:Blood meridian
Authors:Cormac McCarthy
Info:London : Picador, 2010.
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985)

  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.
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    Sethgsamuel: Shamelessly violent, very poetic and beautiful western.
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» See also 235 mentions

English (139)  Italian (4)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
A contender for Great American Novel. Gothic language and gallons of blood spill over the Southwest desert. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
I suppose this is considered McCarthy's masterpiece because it takes his writing style to the extreme. I guess I don't like his style that much after all, then.

The Road was ok. I felt that there was no purpose in almost anything in the story, but then I thought that maybe the problem was that the story was mainly about a father and a child, and that I couldn't really connect with that.

Then I read No Country for Old Men, and it was much better. There was some purpose. Characters that did things, and those things had consequences. There was a story to tell.

But then Blood Meridian is like an amplified version of The Road, a dull sequence of disconnected things that happen just because, where all characters are at the same time a bit interesting and dull (yes, I know that can be read as a contradiction, and that's the point). Ok, I get it, that is Cormac McCarthy's trademark: dullness, bleakness, dryness. And he is very good at it.

I can't say I didn't like the book though, hence the two-stars rating. It was ok. The inexisting story has its moments of historical interest (although I really don't know how accurate it is), the judge has some kind of character development, and McCarthy does a very good job describing the scenery in his unique writing style... until he starts to ruin it by repeating himself page after page. ( )
  chaghi | Jun 1, 2014 |
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian; or, The Evening Redness in the West is a dour revisionist western, written in semi-biblical prose, based on the exploits of the Glanton Gang of scalphunters who terrorized Texas, Mexico, and Arizona in 1849 and 1850. Owing to McCarthy's complete and utter indifference to character development, characterization, plot, grammatical conventions (there's nary a quotation mark to be seen here, and far fewer apostrophes than standard English would otherwise require), and English's rules concerning the capitalization of proper nouns ("Mexican" is capitalized, but "Spanish" and "Indian" are not; etc.); his ostentatiously obscure vocabulary, heavy with geological terms; his reluctance to identify who is speaking; his belaboring of motifs of darkness and his continual likening of men to apes; all of these characteristics combine to make Blood Meridian a dreary, wearying slog, notwithstanding McCarthy's flair for describing violence and occasional, vaguely-stirring flights of prose. (This would be true even if you, Dear Reader, did not have the problems with your Kindle while reading it that Your Correspondent did.)

The main character, such as he is, is never identified by any other name than "The Kid"; he is 14 years old when the story opens, and perhaps 15 when he joins the Glanton Gang on their expedition into Mexico to collect Apache scalps for the bounties offered by the local governments, after the group he was previously in, led by a Captain White (who had a half-assed plot to further undermine the Mexican government and incorporate as much of the country into the U.S. as possible; Chapter III: "Sought out to join an army -- Interview with Captain White -- His views -- The camp -- Trades his mule -- A cantina in the Laredtio -- A Mennonite -- Companion killed"), is largely wiped out by a group of bizarrely-attired Comanche. However, Glanton and his not-so-merry band of rogues are not exactly scrupulous about murdering and/or scalping only actively hostile Apaches; in order to maximize their fiduciary gain, they also murder and scalp friendly Indians, Mexicans, and even the occasional American they encounter. Eventually their bloodthirsty double-dealing, as well as their drunken destruction of the little towns they repair to for R&R in between their bouts of officially sanctioned rapine, catches up with them, and the Mexican authorities attempt to capture or kill them.

Egging on the mayhem is the odd, ultimately more-than-human figure of Judge Holden, who is described as being unusually large, both in height and in girth, exceptionally strong (at one point he fires a howitzer while holding it, much as the character Rambo fired an M60 in the movie version of First Blood while holding it; Rambo's action is the more believable one), extensively, even incredibly learned, and bald as an egg, down to lacking even eyelashes (he is also frequently nude). While there is a tenuous case to be made for Holden's historicity, it's reasonably clear -- as clear as McCarthy makes anything here, at any rate -- by the book's end that he is a supernatural entity (and, therefore, Blood Meridian may be considered to be an exceptionally grimy example of magic realism); it's telling that Holden, who is far and away the most intelligent figure in Blood Meridian, uses his intellect in the service of nihilism, urging the Glanton gang on to ever baser acts of depravity and violence. (I would argue that the character of Holden here represents man's basest proclivities -- his nihilistic tendencies -- far more than he serves as an apologist for war, as some critics have held.) While McCarthy gives Holden a bravura -- and mordantly funny -- introduction in the first chapter, Holden soon wore out his welcome with this reader when it became evident just what his game is.

This points to my main frustration with Blood Meridian: it starts out promisingly enough (indeed, I bought it based on reading the first chapter on Amazon's site); but McCarthy soon eschews anything like a more conventional narrative, character development, showing glimpses of even one character's interior life, or even exploring just how common White's imperialist attitudes towards Mexico were (or, more interestingly to my mind, exploring just how much tacit approval the U.S. government gave to White and groups like his) in favor of a jeremiad against the entire furshlugginer human race. I consider myself a misanthrope who is deeply skeptical of humanity's pretensions of goodness in general; but McCarthy's screed here is so bilious and blinkered that I found myself disengaged from the skeletal story even more than he probably intended his readers to be. Anyone hoping for a more literary treatment of, say, Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, had best move along; I doubt that "Bloody Sam" himself would've touched Blood Meridian with a barge pole. If any character here, even "The Kid," can be said to have an actual personality or interior life, it has as much to do with the reader's wishful thinking as it does with McCarthy's writing. Ultimately, Blood Meridian comes off as a highfalutin version of The Turner Diaries, with the dubious distinction of McCarthy's apparently not thinking that anybody is worth the powder to blow him to hell, as opposed to Turner's author's fervent belief in white supremacy. (McCarthy makes some effort to show that it's not only the white characters who are murderously misanthropic, as when he has White, in his recruitment spiel to The Kid, tell him that the Apaches are so contemptuous of Mexicans, they "won't even shoot them...They kill them with rocks" [Chapter III; location 529 of 5067 in the Kindle edition].)

To paraphrase Lennon-McCartney, "If you want to write for people with minds that hate / Don't be surprised if you're shown the gate." ( )
1 vote uvula_fr_b4 | May 25, 2014 |
I'm bored. I quit.
  MeriwetherR | May 19, 2014 |
This book makes The Road look like a walk in the park ... ( )
  beebowallace | Apr 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 139 (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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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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.
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See the child.
Quotations
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:32 -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.

(summary from another edition)

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