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Blood Meridian (1985)

by Cormac McCarthy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,567272572 (4.17)496
Fiction. Literature. Author of the National Book Award winner All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy is one of the most provocative American stylists to emerge in the last century. The striking novel Blood Meridian offers an unflinching narrative of the brutality that accompanied the push west on the 1850s Texas frontier. His birth ended his mother's life in Tennessee. Scrawny and wiry, he runs away at the age of 14. As he makes his way westward, the impoverished and illiterate youth finds trouble at every turn. Then he's recruited by Army irregulars, lured by the promise of spoils and bound for Mexico. Churning a dusty path toward destiny, he witnesses unknown horrors and suffering-and yet, as if shielded by the almighty hand of God, he survives to breathe another day. Earning McCarthy comparisons to greats like Melville and Faulkner, Blood Meridian is a masterwork of rare genius. Gifted narrator Richard Poe wields the author's prose like a man born to speak it.… (more)
  1. 140
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (dmsteyn)
    dmsteyn: Judge Holden's character was based on the monomaniacal Captain Ahab of Melville's novel.
  2. 30
    The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara (pterodactling)
  3. 20
    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. 20
    Othello by William Shakespeare (Steve.Gourley)
    Steve.Gourley: Compare the philosophy of Judge Holden to Iago
  5. 20
    All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (sturlington)
  6. 22
    Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (WSB7)
    WSB7: Strong perspectival imagery overhanging(pursuing?)a doomed hero.
  7. 00
    Far Bright Star by Robert Olmstead (TheRavenking)
  8. 01
    The Life and Times of Captain N. by Douglas J. Glover (Sethgsamuel)
    Sethgsamuel: Shamelessly violent, very poetic and beautiful western.
1980s (16)
Ranking (56)
Uni (8)
To Read (167)
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» See also 496 mentions

English (256)  Spanish (5)  Italian (4)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (272)
Showing 1-5 of 256 (next | show all)
The whole book is punishment for the soul but important to endure. ( )
  trrpatton | Mar 20, 2024 |
May be his best book. What a writer. ( )
  ben_r47 | Feb 22, 2024 |
Ornate brutality. ( )
1 vote theoaustin | Dec 26, 2023 |
It's possible to interpret a book so deliberately obtuse in lexicon, structure and grammar in ways that one chooses. Is it a masterpiece or gratuitously violent? Is it about man's inhumanity to man or the election of Trump? Is the judge evil incarnate or a charlatan?
The ex-priest was right, the kid should have shot him while he had the chance. ( )
  BernsW | Dec 18, 2023 |
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West is a violent American odyssey through the Southwest. Loosely based on historical events, the novel follows a fictitious 14-year-old called only ''the kid'' - born in 1833, exactly 100 years before the author - as he drifts through the Southwest. He soon joins an outlaw band of Indian hunters who have been hired by a Mexican governor to return Apache scalps at $100 apiece. These misfits - including an ex-priest, a man with initials tattooed on his forehead and a mysterious, erudite judge named Holden - have a taste for blood and death that Mr. McCarthy seems to revel in.

I have since found out that the Glanton Gang that McCarthy wrote about is actually a historical gang that actually went around killing and scalping Native American tribes in the 1850s and actually got paid to do so.

Blood Meridian aims to, like most of McCarthy's fiction, explore the nature of violence. The Kid is contrasted by The Judge Holden. The Judge is a terrifying character, devoid of emotion and any humanistic traits. He is a giant, hairless murderer and psychopath. The Judge had monologues that displayed his philosophical thinking and his inhumanity that were in some parts exhilarant and in more parts just ridiculously menacing. He is spine-chilling and every line within this book about him will disturb you. The Judge is very reminiscent of a later McCarthy character: Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men. Chigurh is a hitman who is devoid of conscience, remorse, and compassion much like The Judge. The Judge in many ways is Satan.

Blood Meridian will keep you glued to the page due to McCarthy's god-like prose and his dark story-telling. It is in many ways a gothic, bloody coming of age story of a kid traversing the realms of hell. The Kid is literally baptized a man in the blood of the Southwest and it is there, in his 40s, after years of drifting meets his fate - the fate that awaits every man. The narrative closes with ambiguity pertaining to the final state of the kid, or the man. But the reader can only infer that the kid has meant his end.

Blood Meridian is also an exercise in theodicy. A recurrent theme in the novel the issue of the general justification of metaphysical goodness in the presence of evil. Does God exist in the universe of McCarthy's Southwest?

That's for the reader to question.

McCarthy's magnum opus, Blood Meridian is one of the greatest works of American Fiction and one of the most harrowing tales ever put to the page. ( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 256 (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)
 
Virtually all of McCarthy's idiosyncratic fiction (The Orchard Keeper, Child of God, Suttree) is suffused with fierce pessimism, relentlessly illustrating the feral destiny of mankind; and this new novel is no exception—though it is equally committed to a large allegorical structure, one that yanks its larger-than-life figures across a sere historical stage.

added by Richardrobert | editKirkus Reivews (Feb 15, 1985)
 

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCarthy, Cormacprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, HaroldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delgado, LluísTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Faria, PauloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fort, Luis MurilloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gyllenhak, UlfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hirsch, FrançoisTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hiti Ožinger, AndrejTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kooman, KoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montanari, RaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murillo Fort, LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poe, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roig, EstherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sivill, KaijamariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sudół, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svoboda, MartinTranslatorsecondary 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.
First words
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.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Problem CK:
Date de première publication :
- 1985 (1e édition originale américaine)
- 1988-04-14 (1e traduction et édition française, Gallimard)
- 1992-10-16 (Réédition française, Le Loire, Gallimard)
- 1998-10-21 (Nouvelle édition française, Editions de l'Olivier)
- 2001-02-10 (Réédition française, Points, Seuil)
- 2016-09-01 (Réédition française, Points, Seuil)
- 2021-03-25 (Réédition française, Bibliothèque, Editions de l'Olivier)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Fiction. Literature. Author of the National Book Award winner All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy is one of the most provocative American stylists to emerge in the last century. The striking novel Blood Meridian offers an unflinching narrative of the brutality that accompanied the push west on the 1850s Texas frontier. His birth ended his mother's life in Tennessee. Scrawny and wiry, he runs away at the age of 14. As he makes his way westward, the impoverished and illiterate youth finds trouble at every turn. Then he's recruited by Army irregulars, lured by the promise of spoils and bound for Mexico. Churning a dusty path toward destiny, he witnesses unknown horrors and suffering-and yet, as if shielded by the almighty hand of God, he survives to breathe another day. Earning McCarthy comparisons to greats like Melville and Faulkner, Blood Meridian is a masterwork of rare genius. Gifted narrator Richard Poe wields the author's prose like a man born to speak it.

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Blood Meridian chronicles the brutal world of the Texas-Mexico borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century. Its wounded hero, the teenage Kid, must confront the extraordinary violence of the Glanton gang, a murderous cadre on an official mission to scalp Indians and sell those scalps.
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