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Cormac McCarthy

New Directions

James D. Lilley

Publication Year: 2014

Even before Harold Bloom designated Blood Meridian as the Great American Novel, Cormac McCarthy had attracted unprecedented attention as a novelist who is both serious and successful, a rare combination in recent American fiction. Critics have been quick to address McCarthy’s indebtedness to southern literature, Christianity, and existential thought, but the essays in this collection are among the first to tackle such issues as gender and race in McCarthy’s work. The rich complexity of the novels leaves room for a wide variety of interpretation. Some of the contributors see racist attitudes in McCarthy’s views of Mexico, whereas others praise his depiction of U.S.-Mexican border culture and contact. Several of the essays approach McCarthy’s work from the perspective of ecocriticism, focusing on his representations of the natural world and the relationships that his characters forge with their geographical environments. And by exploring the author’s use of and attitudes toward language, some of the contributors examine McCarthy’s complex and innovative storytelling techniques.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x

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Introduction: “There Was Map Enough for Men to Read”: Storytelling, the Border Trilogy, and New Directions

James D. Lilley

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pp. 1-16

I wish I could tell you that this essay collection was inspired by the closing words of Cormac McCarthy’s most recent novel, Cities of the Plain. “The story’s told,” insists the dedication of the final installment of McCarthy’s Border Trilogy: “Turn the page” (293). These words remind the reader that from the feral Appalachian...

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History and the Ugly Facts of Blood Meridian

Dana Phillips

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pp. 17-46

The 1992 National Book Award for fiction given to All the Pretty Horses brought Cormac McCarthy his first widespread recognition as a writer of importance. Throughout most of his career, which began in the mid-1960s, McCarthy had worked and...

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The Lay of the Land in Cormac McCarthy’s Appalachia

K. Wesley Berry

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pp. 47-74

As I read Cormac McCarthy’s Appalachian fiction—The Orchard Keeper, Outer Dark, and Child of God—my gaze draws back from the picturesque vista of the broader Appalachians, back from the sublimity of the panorama, to focus on the harsh realities of the close-up: eastern Tennessee and western...

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The Sacred Hunter and the Eucharist of the Wilderness: Mythic Reconstructions in Blood Meridian

Sara Spurgeon

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pp. 75-102

One of the many complex relationships Cormac McCarthy explores in Blood Meridian, or, The Evening Redness in the West is between humans, especially Anglo Americans, and the natural world. He does so in part through the manipulation of...

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History, Bloodshed, and the Spectacle of American Identity in Blood Meridian

Adam Parkes

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pp. 103-124

At the beginning of Blood Meridian, or, The Evening Redness in the West (1985), Cormac McCarthy introduces an unnamed kid, who remains more or less in sight until the end of the book: “See the child,” McCarthy begins (3). For most of the following...

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Abjection and “the Feminine” in Outer Dark

Ann Fisher-Wirth

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pp. 125-140

In a talk he gave on Blood Meridian at the University of Mississippi in spring 1996, James Lilley wondered aloud where woman is in that novel. It occurred to me suddenly that woman is in the mud—both literally, in that the book is full of nameless dying...

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All the Pretty Mexicos: Cormac McCarthy’s Mexican Representations

Daniel Cooper Alarcón

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pp. 141-152

The comments of McCarthy’s fallen priest in The Crossing (155) provide a useful way of thinking about the relationship of McCarthy’s Border Trilogy to one of the literary traditions within which his border novels may be situated. In this essay I...

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“Blood is Blood”: All The Pretty Horses in the Multicultural Literature Class

Timothy P. Caron

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pp. 153-170

Critics have examined Cormac McCarthy’s novels from several perspectives, yielding particularly rich results in studying the historical antecedents and philosophical underpinnings of his work or contemplating his indebtedness to Faulkner, Melville...

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The Cave of Oblivion: Platonic Mythology in Child of God

Dianne C. Luce

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pp. 171-198

A murdering necrophile who lives in caves, hoarding the bodies of his victims as material possessions, Lester Ballard mystifies both his neighbors and the reader. Although his progression in misguided deeds follows a logic of escalation, the narrative

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From Beowulf to Blood Meridian: Cormac McCarthy’s Demystification of the Martial Code

Rick Wallach

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pp. 199-214

In his essay “Blood Music,” Peter Josyph notes the generic (if not genetic) relationship between Blood Meridian and Beowulf. There is much substance to this observation, and not only because the novel, like the poem, which Josyph calls one of its “grandfathers”...

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McCarthy and the Sacred: A Reading of The Crossing

Edwin T. Arnold

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pp. 215-238

For readers of his play The Stonemason and his novel The Crossing, both published in 1994, that Cormac McCarthy is a writer of the sacred should be beyond dispute. The two works bring to the forefront spiritual issues that have been an essential,...

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“See the Child”: The Melancholy Subtext of Blood Meridian

George Guillemin

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pp. 239-266

Among the many melancholy moments in the Old Testament, we find the Israelites’ mourning of their forced exile by the rivers of Babylon in Psalm 137. Strangely, it ends with an image at odds with the woeful tone of the preceding...

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Leaving the Dark Night of the Lie: A Kristevan Reading of Cormac McCarthy’s Border Fiction

Linda Townley Woodson

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pp. 267-284

At the end of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Judge Holden makes a prediction, “As war becomes dishonored and its nobility called into question those honorable men who recognize the sanctity of blood will become excluded from the dance...

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“Hallucinated Recollections”: Narrative as Spatialized Perception of History in The Orchard Keeper

Matthew R. Horton

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pp. 285-312

Cormac McCarthy begins the first fragment of The Orchard Keeper with this condensed image of perceived history, giving shape to the passage of time, representing how human hindsight objectifies the passage of time. As a metaphor that illustrates...

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Cormac McCarthy’s Sense of an Ending: Serialized Narrative and Revision in Cities of the Plain

Robert L. Jarrett

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pp. 313-342

However compelling are the connections in theme, character, and technique between the first two volumes of Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, no characters from All the Pretty Horses appear in The Crossing. Given this textual gap between...


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pp. 343-350

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780826327680
E-ISBN-10: 0826327680
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826327673

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2014