Maps of the World in Its Becoming: Post-Apocalyptic Naming in Cormac McCarthy's The Road


In The Road (2006), Cormac McCarthy's approach to "naming differently" establishes the imaginative conditions for a New Earth, a New Eden. The novel diverges from the rest of McCarthy's oeuvre, a change especially evident when the book is set against Blood Meridian because their styles and concomitant worldviews differ so strikingly. The style of The Road is pared down, elemental: it triumphs over the dead and ghostly echoes of the abyss and, alternately, over relentless ironic gesturing. And it is precisely in The Road 's language that we discover the seeds of the work's unexpectedly optimistic worldview. The novel is best understood as a linguistic journey toward redemption, a search for meaning and pattern in a seemingly meaningless world — a search that, astonishingly, succeeds. Further, I posit The Road as an argument for a new kind of fiction, one that survives after the current paradigm of excess collapses, one that returns to the essential elements of narrative.