Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West

Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West

by Cormac McCarthy

Paperback(Vintage International Edition)

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An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the "wild west." Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679728757
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1992
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Vintage International Edition
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 23,391
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in1933 and spent most of his childhood near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later studied at the University of Tennessee. In 1976 he moved to El Paso, Texas, where he lives today.  McCarthy's fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West—the first four novels being set in Tennessee, the last three in the Southwest and Mexico. The Orchard Keeper (1965) won the Faulkner Award for a first novel; it was followed by Outer Dark (1968),  Child of God (1973), Suttree (1979), Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award for fiction in 1992, and The Crossing.

Read an Excerpt

Blood Meridian (1985) seems to me the authentic American apocalyptic novel, more relevant even in 2000 than it was fifteen years ago. The fulfilled renown of Moby-Dick and of As I Lay Dying is augmented by Blood Meridian, since Cormac McCarthy is the worthy disciple both of Melville and of Faulkner. I venture that no other living American novelist, not even Pynchon, has given us a book as strong and memorable as Blood Meridian, much as I appreciate Don DeLillo's Underworld, Philip Roth's Zuckerman Bound, Sabbath's Theater, and American Pastoral, and Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and Mason & Dixon. McCarthy himself, in his recent Border trilogy, commencing with the superb All the Pretty Horses, has not matched Blood Meridian, but it is the ultimate Western, not to be surpassed.

My concern being the reader, I will begin by confessing that my first two attempts to read through Blood Meridian failed, because I flinched from the overwhelming carnage that McCarthy portrays. The violence begins on the novel's second page, when the fifteen-year-old Kid is shot in the back and just below the heart, and continues almost with no respite until the end, thirty years later, when Judge Holden, the most frightening figure in all of American literature, murders the Kid in an outhouse. So appalling are the continuous massacres and mutilations of Blood Meridian that one could be reading a United Nations report on the horrors of Kosovo in 1999.

Nevertheless, I urge the reader to persevere, because Blood Meridian is a canonical imaginative achievement, both an American and a universal tragedy of blood. Judge Holden is a villain worthy of Shakespeare, Iago-like and demoniac, a theoretician of war everlasting. And the book's magnificence-its language, landscape, persons, conceptions-at last transcends the violence, and converts goriness into terrifying art, an art comparable to Melville's and to Faulkner's. When I teach the book, many of my students resist it initially (as I did, and as some of my friends continue to do). Television saturates us with actual as well as imagined violence, and I turn away, either in shock or in disgust. But I cannot turn away from Blood Meridian, now that I know how to read it, and why it has to be read. None of its carnage is gratuitous or redundant; it belonged to the Mexico-Texas borderlands in 1849-50, which is where and when most of the novel is set. I suppose one could call Blood Meridian a "historical novel," since it chronicles the actual expedition of the Glanton gang, a murderous paramilitary force sent out both by Mexican and Texan authorities to murder and scalp as many Indians as possible. Yet it does not have the aura of historical fiction, since what it depicts seethes on, in the United States, and nearly everywhere else, as we enter the third millennium. Judge Holden, the prophet of war, is unlikely to be without honor in our years to come.

Even as you learn to endure the slaughter McCarthy describes, you become accustomed to the book's high style, again as overtly Shakespearean as it is Faulknerian. There are passages of Melvillean-Faulknerian baroque richness and intensity in The Crying of Lot 49, and elsewhere in Pynchon, but we can never be sure that they are not parodistic. The prose of Blood Meridian soars, yet with its own economy, and its dialogue is always persuasive, particularly when the uncanny Judge Holden speaks (chapter 14, p. 199):

The judge placed his hands on the ground. He looked at his inquisitor. This is my claim, he said. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation.

Toadvine sat with his boots crossed before the fire. No man can acquaint himself with everything on this earth, he said.

The judge tilted his great head. The man who believes that the secrets of this world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.

Judge Holden is the spiritual leader of Glanton's filibusters, and McCarthy persuasively gives the self-styled judge a mythic status, appropriate for a deep Machiavelli whose "thread of order" recalls Iago's magic web, in which Othello, Desdemona, and Cassio are caught. Though all of the more colorful and murderous raiders are vividly characterized for us, the killing-machine Glanton with the others, the novel turns always upon its two central figures, Judge Holden and the Kid. We first meet the Judge on page 6: an enormous man, bald as a stone, no trace of a beard, and eyes without either brows or lashes. A seven-foot-tall albino almost seems to have come from some other world, and we learn to wonder about the Judge, who never sleeps, dances and fiddles with extraordinary art and energy, rapes and murders little children of both sexes, and who says that he will never die. By the book's close, I have come to believe that the Judge is immortal. And yet the Judge, while both more and less than human, is as individuated as Iago or Macbeth, and is quite at home in the Texan-Mexican borderlands where we watch him operate in 1849-50, and then find him again in 1878, not a day older after twenty-eight years, though the Kid, a sixteen-year-old at the start of Glanton's foray, is forty-five when murdered by the Judge at the end.

McCarthy subtly shows us the long, slow development of the Kid from another mindless scalper of Indians to the courageous confronter of the Judge in their final debate in a saloon. But though the Kid's moral maturation is heartening, his personality remains largely a cipher, as anonymous as his lack of a name. The three glories of the book are the Judge, the landscape, and (dreadful to say this) the slaughters, which are aesthetically distanced by McCarthy in a number of complex ways.

What is the reader to make of the Judge? He is immortal as principle, as War Everlasting, but is he a person, or something other? McCarthy will not tell us, which is all the better, since the ambiguity is most stimulating. Melville's Captain Ahab, though a Promethean demigod, is necessarily mortal, and perishes with the Pequod and all its crew, except for Ishmael. After he has killed the Kid, Blood Meridian's Ishmael, Judge Holden is the last survivor of Glanton's scalping crusade. Destroying the Native American nations of the Southwest is hardly analogous to the hunt to slay Moby-Dick, and yet McCarthy gives us some curious parallels between the two quests. The most striking is between Melville's chapter 19, where a ragged prophet, who calls himself Elijah, warns Ishmael and Queequeg against sailing on the Pequod, and McCarthy's chapter 4, where "an old disordered Mennonite" warns the Kid and his comrades not to join Captain Worth's filibuster, a disaster that preludes the greater catastrophe of Glanton's campaign.

McCarthy's invocation of Moby-Dick, while impressive and suggestive, in itself does not do much to illuminate Judge Holden for us. Ahab has his preternatural aspects, including his harpooner Fedellah and Parsee whaleboat crew, and the captain's conversion to their Zoroastrian faith. Elijah tells Ishmael touches of other Ahabian mysteries: a three-day trance off Cape Horn, slaying a Spaniard in front of a presumably Catholic altar in Santa, and a wholly enigmatic spitting into a "silver calabash."Yet all these are transparencies compared to the enigmas of Judge Holden, who seems to judge the entire earth, and whose name suggests a holding, presumably of sway over all he encounters. And yet, the Judge, unlike Ahab, is not wholly fictive; like Glanton, he is a historic filibuster or freebooter. McCarthy tells us most in the Kid's dream visions of Judge Holden, towards the close of the novel (chapter 22, pp. 309—10):

In that sleep and in sleep to follow the judge did visit. Who would come other? A great shambling mutant, silent and serene. Whatever his antecedents, he was something wholly other than their sum, nor was there system by which to divide him back into his origins for he would not go. Whoever would seek out his history through what unraveling of loins and ledgerbooks must stand at last darkened and dumb at the shore of a void without terminus or origin and whatever science he might bring to bear upon the dusty primal matter blowing down out of the millennia will discover no trace of ultimate atavistic egg by which to reckon his commencing.

I think that McCarthy is warning his reader that the Judge is Moby-Dick rather than Ahab. As another white enigma, the albino Judge, like the albino whale, cannot be slain. Melville, a professed Gnostic, who believed that some "anarch hand or cosmic blunder" had divided us into two fallen sexes, gives us a Manichean quester in Ahab. McCarthy gives Judge Holden the powers and purposes of the bad angels or demiurges that the Gnostics called archons, but he tells us not to make such an identification (as the critic Leo Daugherty eloquently has). Any "system," including the Gnostic one, will not divide the Judge back into his origins. The "ultimate atavistic egg" will not be found. What can the reader do with the haunting and terrifying Judge?

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Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 257 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first McCarthy. I suspect that like others I came to it at the recommendation of Harold Bloom, of whom I am a sort of disciple. (For the record, Bloom does not say that this is the 'best American novel in 50 years¿', instead he says that BM is the 'greatest aesthetic achievement of any American novelist in 50 years.' Bloom, as usual, has chosen his words carefully.) And despite Bloom's valid enthusiasm, McCarthy is a true if still only slightly inferior inheritor of Joyce and Conrad via Faulkner, as well as of Hemmingway, Melville, Twain and perhaps Whitman. Upon first glance at the text, one is reminded of Faulkner at his most desperately purple and Joycean. Deeper one sees Hemingway's mechanics and structure and use of Spanish dialog, as well as Whitman¿s¿ and Stevens' taste for a wide and unusual vocabulary. (Judge Holden in the preacher's camp, falsely exposing the preacher as a phony is pure Poldy in Nighttown.) 'Phantasmagoric', found in the text, is an appropriate adjective for BM. Set in the 1850s in Texas and Mexico, it follows the hypergrotesque (I'm still not sure that word is strong enough) odyssey of the the Kid, an orphan who enlists with the Glanton gang, a pack of wretched mercenaries hunting Apache scalps for bounty. As such BM is 350 pages of nightmare bloodletting, all written by an author whose powers of naturalistic description are fearless and masterful and apparently bottomless. It all takes quite a toll, since it leaves few places for the reader to rest. McCarthy evinces none of the anxiety that propels his precursors, like Melville, to let some light slip out and betray hope-- and that, all moralizing aside, may be the novel's only real flaw. Howevermuch the first few pages of BM might resemble the first few of Moby Dick with its invitations to 'See' and then proceed to lead us sleepily into a mad and bloody epic, BM will not suffer an Ishmael to tell his dreamy tale. When we do get to rest from the decapitations and disembowelings in BM, it's in a space of Kafkan absurdity, a Beckett-like vacuum of absence of meaning, or thankfully (!) in the anti-Dostoevskian philosophizings of Judge Holden, who is the true center, anti-center, of the novel, something more than superficially like Moby Dick's white whale. That the reader is placed in such a desperate space, however, and that we must sit by the fire and somehow be glad for (and rightfully terrified of) Holden is clearly the novel's greatest strength. Holden, perhaps the Devil himself, whose real interest among the Glanton gang is in the Kid, in whom he sees something redeeming that he cannot let be, is a charming and gentlemanly renaissance man who also happens to be an abyss of negation and destruction, an albino giant Old Scratch whose principle of being/non-being is that 'War is God'. The novel is emotionally taxing and frustrating, and it has its major aesthetic flaws (also inherited from Faulkner and Twain: Faulkner when the rhetoric unintentionally mocks itself-- but that is rare since the writing is so controlled and taut--, and on a large scale like Twain in Huck Finn, when BM seems to go off the rails about 3/4 of the way through), but it is a must for any serious reader of American novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First, be warned, this story is not for the faint of heart. That aside, it is probably one of the most beautiful and monstrous books I've come across in recent memory. The juxstaposition of considerably luscious descriptives for an austere backdrop alongside stomach turning violence with an equally existential/fatalistic twist to the characters is such an exciting dichotomy. The book is one that stays with you. It can evoke some serious reactions- that's not only rare in my opinion, but prized. Cormac McCarthy is one of my favorites and of his work this is, in my opinion, his epitome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have known about this book for over 15 years and have looked for other resources related to this book to help deepen my appreciation for the genius of Cormac McCarthy. I recently stumbled across a new tool on John Sepich's website - a complete concordance of 'Blood Meridian'. The breakdown of McCarthy's word choices and variety will blow your mind. After spending some time on the site, I am going to go back and re-read this book. I am sure that it is going to be even more intriguing now than previous reads.
Irving_Washington More than 1 year ago
"In that sleep and in sleeps to follow the judge did visit. Who would come other? A great shambling mutant, silent and serene. Whatever his antecedents he was something wholly other than their sum, nor was there a system by which to divide him back into his origins for he would not go. Whoever would seek out his history through what unraveling of loins and ledgerbooks must stand at last darkened and dumb at the shore of a void without terminus or origin and whatever science he might bring to bear upon the dusty primal matter blowing down out of the millennia will discover no trace of any ultimate atavistic egg by which to reckon his commencing."

If you didn't like reading that, you won't like reading Blood Meridian, as that passage is from the novel. I pity you if you don't like it.

Judge Holden is the most evil character that I've ever read.

McCarthy's writing is aesthetic genius.

That's really all I have to say. It's a masterpiece.
Paul_Hochman More than 1 year ago
The darkest and most disturbing book ever put to paper. McCarthy's vision of the American West is apocalyptic in scope and steeped in depravity; a haunting tome and the only book that ever gave me nightmares.
Eric Daum More than 1 year ago
The author has an uncanny way with vivid but often times terse description. His characters are alive and morally grey. The reader follows the 'kid' as he journeys through hell on earth around the boarders of Texas and Mexico.
fibasile More than 1 year ago
A great book. once it gets to you i am sure it will become a page turner. A definitive modern masterpiece, at the same level of faulkener, guimaraes rosa or conrad. must read.
cjhTX More than 1 year ago
There is not one redeeming character in the book. I cannot remember ever before reading a book that did not have have one character that projected some semblance of nobility. No doubt the book does accurately portray a level of humanity that existed in the "wild west" but thank God it did not win out. Like many (all?) of McCarthy's books it explores the dark side of human behavior in greater depth than many people may be able to tolerate, but his style of writing, with minimal attention to grammatical correctness, while still managing to produce captivating tales, is astonishing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel like the only one who doesn't like it but I have to share my thoughts about it. I found it very confusing and disappointing. It started off interesting but then so many characters were thrown into the story, most of which were unimportant or killed in the next chapter. I found it annoying how much attention I had to put into reading it. McCarthy would describe the scenery or the desert for so long that I'd lose focus and then something important for the story would happen, so I'd have to go back and re-read nearly everything to the point where I didn't care about anything the book had to say anymore. I didn't like any of the characters, I stopped caring towards the end of the book how crazy or evil any of them were. For the last 1/4 of the book, I was so confused that I didn't know who was killing who, where anybody was, who was alive or dead, so I found myself reading as fast as I could because I wanted to finish it as quick as I could just to end it. And to top all of that, it was unnecessarily violent, I personally like violent books and movies, but this was so ridiculous to the point where it was really annoying.
SavageBS More than 1 year ago
I was eager to read "Blood Meridian", like most I heard it was a classic and profound read full of violence and gore. It was, but I found the reading in the 1st 100 pages tedious and slow going. I really enjoyed the book as a whole, but found many of the descriptions long winded! The violence and outright lunacy of the scalp hunters is what kept me reading. The main character is "The Kid", who for 14 years old is a tough one. Several other great characters in the book, "The Judge", wow, McCarthy could write a book just about him. This was only my 2nd McCarthy book, the other being "The Road", which blew me away. If you like McCarthy, you'll probably enjoy "Blood Meridian", but the blood and violence level is very, very high if your not comfortable with it. Personally I'm looking forward to reading "Outer Dark" next, hoping to get back to the McCarthy I adored after reading "The Road"! When you finish this book, if you feel like you have some unanswered questions, look up "Blood Meridian" on and you'll find a long analysis about the characters and the ending! I know I did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While appreciating McCarthy's achievement, I consider the 'style' unnecessarily affected. The innovation of dropping quotation marks, apostrophes, and most hyphens should not be confused with creativity. His approach leads to confusion rather than clarity. Strunk and White would be aghast. Similes and metaphors are often incongruous. The conjunction 'and' is used ad nauseam where commas will suffice and signal where a reader can pause. Enough with the grammar lesson though. It would be interesting to hear how the author justifies the appearance of a lanneret, a harpy eagle, ringdoves, jackals, and even nectar-sipping bats that (in the US) are found only in Big Bend National Park. Repetition of 'They rode on' becomes nauseating. For what purpose are less familiar words - thrapple for windpipe, aubergines for eggplants? Spanish words are distractingly misspelled. Eventually there's a point where erudition becomes ostentation. The character Judge Holden, whose discourses would daze an Oxford professor, personifies this negative factor. However, in defense of the 'ambiguous' ending, I ask what would the reader wish? One may suppose that McCarthy painted himself into a corner, but a novel takes on life when its characters have their own say as to resolution. Leaving the matter for interpretation was a beautiful stroke.
SupDugs More than 1 year ago
A Classic in the Faulkner-ian sense. It is enormous in its scope and ambition on par with Melville and it's Milton-esque Biblical connotations of good vs. evil. It is a land of evil and barren of hope. The characters are drawn from an actual journal from the US Mexican War. It is devastating and nightmarish. This book will haunt you with its vivid account of no-holds-barred gurrilla warfare where no one is safe not even the dogs. It's as frightning a depiction of blood thirsty evil in the world as has ever been written.
McCarthy92 More than 1 year ago
This is by far the greatest book of all time!!!This is my third book by Cormac McCarthy and I found this one to be his best one. This is a pretty difficult read since you have to be 100 % in the book and the fact that it's like the most violent book ever. I thought Anton Chigurh was a bad dude but Judge Holden is even more evil. The prose in this book is so beautiful. I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone unless they don't mind a story about a bunch of scalphunters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the most grotesque novel ever written in modern literature. Cormac McCarthy should have earned the Pulitzer Prize for a novel so splashed with blood and massacre, it outranks all the horrific books published by Stephen King or Jews who have written about their concentration camp experiences during World War II. To read this book is like memorizing detailed instructions on how to butcher a cow in a meat plant. The novel could easily take the place of Caulfield¿s Catcher in the Rye as the number one book the FBI would find in a serial killer¿s home. The story is not about murder, although one see¿s it in each gripping chapter of Indian massacres, merciless bar fights, child killings, and simple I don¿t like seeing your face, so I¿m going to chop your head off scenarios. Instead, the story gives us an understanding that world peace can never be obtained in a society ruled by competition and war-making genes flourishing in all of us. The novel is brilliantly executed and keeps the reader ¿with a strong stomach¿ reading until the climatic end. Cormac writes with a poetic style, distorting descriptions with brilliant metaphors, so one receives an exciting view of the landscape like only Melville and Faulkner can do. The highlight of the book is its haunting albino character, Judge Holden, a Moby Dick or Satan in human form who exploits the shortfalls of humanity. One could imagine Marlon Brando of Apocalypse Now in the character Judge Holden, but with white skin and a vocabulary as prolific as a Harvard graduate. The Judge kills with relish and gives creditable excuses for all his murders. If you have read Stephen King¿s The Stand, you will find many similarities between Holden and Randall Flagg, they are the same demonic entity, but the Judge is more brilliantly done up. In the end, the Judge is neither evil nor sympathetic to the human cause, but is a reminder to our mortality and how useless self-gain, entertainment, and love means in the end when all that invites us is death.
Guest More than 1 year ago
McCarthy has one of the most distinctive voices in American fiction today. In my view, he is our finest Western writer--though not in the traditional sense. With its long, sinuous sentences, vaulting and maddening philosophical musings, and lurid passages of the grotesque, BLOOD MERIDIAN is a literary descendant of Faulkner's novels. Yet it offers us a much darker vision: America's Westward Expansion is merely a regression into a bloodlust as old as humanity itself. Occasionally the prose is overblown, and the writing would have benefited from some judicious condensing. My main reason for withholding a star is that I'm not sure what is at stake in this story. Should we see the kid as presented with a choice between embracing the demonic violence embodied by the judge and repudiating such violence? Yet the kid remains as knee-deep in the mayhem as everyone else, and his fate left me unmoved. At one point, the kid wanders out of the mountains into a clearing where a tree has been struck by lightning. Animals of all kinds--mountain lions, birds, tarantulas, scorpions--have gathered around the fiery tree. It is a mystical, wonderful image, one I wish had been developed. It suggests that peaceful community can be as primal as violence. If only the kid had followed this path!
Guest More than 1 year ago
An amazing book that made this aparently low-level reader's head ache. Written in a style that becomes difficult to follow at times(with a lack of quoations marks and labels of whose speaking). While it contains many thick sections that must be trudged through, and Faustian references that could easily be missed(a 14 year lapse in time between pro- & antagonists, twice that found in Faust) McCarthy's superb and gut renching descriptions of gore and death flow effortlessly into the Judge's rants on religion and agency. An excellent read, if you can get through it! I just wish I had a peer to discuss it with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay. I'm serious. This book is awesome. It's weird, over the top, violent and yet wonderfully beautiful, epic, written in a style that will either leave you cold or suck you in completely. I mean it. I don't know that everyone will love this book, but for those who do the experience is really wonderful. McCarthy is a crazy wordsmith. He weaves a spell and takes you on a journey across fantastic landscapes and across the dark territory of men's souls. Good stuff. Wish there was more like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Blood Meridian is the tragically beautiful story of men, surviving on the frontier, who have befriended violence and live their lives according to its dictum. Cormac McCarthy¿s tale of the South West during the 1800¿s is so unrelenting one cannot help feeling more and more affected, both mentally and physically, with each passing page. The vivid images of violence, but also the spiritual imagery and the conflict between those who are simply no-good and those who are truly evil, create an unforgettable world of despair where carnage is law and survival is redemption. The story follows The Kid, a fourteen-year old drifter, across the Texas border into Mexico where he joins a group of mercenaries traveling through the desert killing Indians and selling their scalps. Through their experience the reader is introduced to a Wild West, stripped of morality, and replaced by a realism unique to McCarthy. With elegant prose that brings the desert to life and an uncanny understanding of the human spirit, Cormac McCarthy has written maybe the best American Novel in 25 years.
WillSmiffFromSharkTale 3 days ago
For any reader not faint of heart, Blood Meridian’s unique structure and take on the Western makes this book worth the read. The stream-of-consciousness style of Blood Meridian is incredibly effective in portraying the vibrant emotion of characters throughout the story. In scenes of terror and confusion, the language of the book becomes quite jittery and long-winded, the words and actions of multiple characters tangling together, bringing the reader into confusion as well (170). In contrast, the few times of peace allow both the protagonists and readers a time of relief from the chaos (59). Because of this unique structure, the reader stays firmly invested throughout the book, going through the same roller coaster of events as the gang. Blood Meridian’s anti-Western statement on the Western genre is also fascinating. Against the typical plot of the lone wanderer against an evil gang or the good gang against the evil tribe, Blood Meridian paints all groups in a negative light, leaving a resounding message about the horrors of the West (60, 73, 102, 112). In the typical Western novel, the resolution of the book is rather formulaic. The heroic sheriff or cowboy defeats the bandits and heroically rides off into the sunset. Blood Meridian takes a different approach, and the Kid’s ending is not that of a Clint Eastwood character (348). Lastly, Blood Meridian presents the reader the true plague of humanity: its ruthless exploitation of itself. Native tribes raid and kill white scalping gangs (56). These gangs kill peaceful Mexicans (180). Mexicans either form militias and hire gangs to kill off Native tribes (83). The circle of violence and depravity illustrates all cultures and races as allowing mindless violence to be the mainstream, to let bloodshed to be a constant presence in their lives. This realization of the book is also the realization of American Culture at the time, with both the strength and weakness of Native Americans coming into focus with the AIM movement. Blood Meridian is a book worthy of your time. Its stream of consciousness style is a treat to read, it deconstructs the western genre, dissects the eras of both Manifest Destiny and Native cultural revival, and most importantly, is a wonderful book.
Anonymous 3 days ago
This book is worth reading to explore the role money and power have in an individual's life. Blood Meridian is about ‘The Kid’ and the series of events that is his life. Money and power play a very interesting role in the story when it relates to how events turn out. It is very clear to see that power typically belongs to the people who have more wealth simply due to the fact that they can afford better weapons. This is not a book of morals and typical deep meaning, this is quite literally a book about violence and self-preservation. The poor standards of living breed the perfect background for a violent society. The first page describes The Kid with the following, “He can neither read nor write and in him broods already a taste for mindless violence”(McCarthy 3). The Kid is very desensitized to violence which allows him to do many aggressive crimes without the smallest trace of remorse. There is a scene where The kid and a friend are trekking through the desert and they happen upon a very gruesome sight. “ The way narrowed through rocks and by and by they came to a bush that was hung with dead babies”(McCarthy 60). This was the only line about it, nothing more and nothing less. There was no need to elaborate on the bush because The Kid moved on so quickly and just resumed walking. A prime example of power would be Judge Holden, he is a very large symbol in this book due to his many roles. “ An enormous man dressed in an oilcloth slicker ad entered the tent and removed his hat. He was bald as a stone and he had no trace of a beard and he had no brows to his eyes nor lashes to them”(McCarthy 6). He does what he wants, when he wants to and shows no loyalties except to his own wellbeing. Near the end of the story, he commits an act that would appall many yet he carries on. He has a very high social status because many are afraid of him and the mystery he creates. “ He dances in light and in shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die”(McCarthy349). Lastly, race plays a large part in the power dynamic in the story. In chapter seven two characters are introduced, both named Jackson, one is black and the other is white. Even though both men are in the same gang they hate each other. (McCarthy 86). They constantly taunt each other and spend most of their days talking about their dislike for one another. As one can presume from the time period, the white Jackson takes his privilege too far and pushes black Jackson over the edge. Overall Blood Meridian is a great read that invokes many interesting thoughts and perspectives. McCarthy does a wonderful job of telling it like it is and setting the scene for a western nobody will forget.
chuckzak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The violence and lyricism of this western proved pretty effective I'd say, The violence is delivered by black-hearted cowboys and indians on a bloody trail across the southwest and thereabouts, beautifully described as are the immense spaces these sociopaths drag themselves through, in agonies of pain, bloodlust and extreme cruelty. The power of the language, even in its stylization, forces you to consider the mighty wills of such driven men, even as their atrocities repel. The job of rationalizing all this beautifully-rendered inhumanity falls to 'the judge': huge, perfectly hairless, and embroiled in his own war with creation, which he seeks to subdue with guile, violence and a bit of Darwinesque specimen-collecting and journal-keeping - except the judge is more likely to chuck whatever specimen he's collected into a river to drown. His rationale for the murderous cowboy band's behavior and for his own quietly tyrannical desires lie in some artful digressions on war and morality in general, but mostly it's reflected in his bald declaration that "whatever exists in creation without my knowledge, exists without my consent." In a country where law is nonexistent and weaponry readily available, such a man would be counterable only by an equal will and his bloody philosophy would be ultimately irrefutable. The judge is the only character who bothers to place his will in such context, but the wonder is partly at what is unspoken in the wrathfulness of the others. They may lack the judge's erudition, but not his drive. Whether the brutality is an honest reflection of most men at that or any other time is for you to decide, but the lingering fascination comes from the characters' moral remoteness and from the cold rationality that lies behind it all. They are too cunning to be insane and too cruel to be withstood, and their kind probably isn't so uncommon as we'd like to think.
goddamn_phony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lyrical, visceral, sickening and beautiful. Bret Easton Ellis, look upon this and despair.
SouthernLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very violent and difficult read, but intensely well-written. There is no voice comparable to Mr. McCarthy's today.
Phyrexicaid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not an easy read, for many reasons. Well written, and partially based on fact, a gruesome tale of early American history.
tugglebug on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mexico circa 1849.Was it really like this?McCarthy paints a landscape of violence and depravity unlike anything I have ever read.An undoubted masterpiece that tells the story of The Kid a fourteen year old who runs away from home and joins the Glanton gang a motley crew of murderous scalphunters who terrorise everyone they encounter.This will stay long in the memory,from the sparse biblical prose to the hellish visions of desert wastelands populated by long winged vultures feeding on the aftermath of slaughter and the howling,snapping wolves which seem to be ever present.Not forgetting judge Holden one of the most terrifying characters in literature whose crimes are mostly insinuated.If you have a strong constitution I would highly recommend.Disturbing but unforgettable.