Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy is a master of cryptic endings. And if ever a novel had a sphinx-like epilogue, it’s Blood Meridian, which, if your ears are attuned to the musicality of McCarthy’s prose, is a kind of inverted Ninth Symphony. An ode to violence, as it were. A parable about existence, about life, about leading and following, about authorship and reading, in a word, about everything, McCarthy’s epilogue surpasses, in my opinion, Plato’s allegory of the cave. Carriers of light, a recurrent theme in his fiction, are solitary beings. They can be “good” people, moral exemplars, or effective leaders. Or they can be literary artists like Homer and Cervantes, or Robinson and McCarthy. What these fire-producers and spark-throwers have in common is the cold unregenerate darkness from which they issue and the wake they leave in their train, as others struggle to comprehend the meaning of their efforts in a silent world. Just as we struggle to comprehend McCarthy’s novel. Which after all is a piece of life, scary, ambiguous, and implacable. In McCarthy’s universe, if ever there’s truth, beauty, and justice — which are hard-won achievements, indeed — they occur on the granite-like surface of selfishness, greed, and violence. Perhaps that’s the import of the epilogue: a solitary man, any man, everyman, struggling in a dry, inhospitable land to forge a path or create a space for others to follow or occupy, if only gropingly.

7 Responses to Blood Meridian

  1. I never did finish this one … not so much because I wasn’t liking (appreciating) it but because it wasn’t my time for reading it – that is, it needed more concentration than I could bestow on it at the time. However, every time I hear it mentioned the sense of it, the atmosphere, comes flooding back. That must be good writing eh?

  2. McC writes with such stupendous force and with such a sensitive eye to the natural world that he’s an honorary Australian novelist, or so I hereby crown him to be. Hope things are going well for you. Cheers. K

    • LOL Kevin, I think that’s a compliment!! Yes, busy busy here but all well. Am technically retired but seem to be picking up this job and that job which is making me almost more busy than before. Reading is therefore going way too slowly for my liking.

  3. Biblibio says:

    I really struggled to get into “Blood Meridian”. Then for a while I just didn’t get it. And then I got to the last quarter of the book and it blew me away and I was confused, because up to that point I really didn’t get what the big deal was about. To be honest, I’m still not certain I took away from it what others did, or what I was “supposed” to. But wow, that ending was… wow.

  4. Michael says:

    I love it! The epilogue being “…a kind of inverted Ninth Symphony.” I’ve been meaning to reread Blood Meridian and this just may be the push I needed!


  5. Bebe Krause says:

    I truly find this is a great interesting subject. Never looked at this subject in this manner. If you are going to write some more articles about this subject, I definitely will be back soon!

  6. Ed says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I guess I’m a bit late to the party. Found this page doing a google search on some of mccarthy’s stuff. Anyway, I saw on your Child of God page you mention that any black belt in McCarthy should be able to respond to the question of what’s up with the encounter in the outhouse. I’m wondering if you have a take on that you’d be willing to share. Also, if you have any insight into what’s up with the kid not shooting the judge in the desert, why exactly the judge comes back after some thirty years, or what’s up with the epilogue, i’d really be interested. I have some theories for each, but nothing that’s truly satisfying.


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