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...
Glanton: single-minded, ruthless, racist, predator, sadist, desensitized. He is the leader of a group of scalp hunters who find and scalp American Indians on the border. They sell for 100 a scalp. He kills the natives and anybody else.
Judge Holden: He's the protagonist. An enormous, hairless member of the scalp hunting Glanton gang. He's educated, speaks many languages, a musician, dancer, firearms expert, pedophile, sadist, and merciless killer. And those are his good points.
“It makes no difference what men think of war. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. that is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way.”
“The man who believes that the secrets of the 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.”
“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.”
“In the days to come the frail black rebuses of blood in those sands would crack and break and drift away so that in the circuit of a few suns all trace of the destruction of these people would be erased. The desert wind would salt their ruins and there would be nothing, neither ghost nor scribe, to tell any pilgrim in his passing how it was that people had lived in this place and in this place died.”
“Kinda fell on hard times aint ye son? he said. I just aint fell on no good ones.”
“You ready to go down to Mexico?I aint lost nothin down there.”
hackamore: a simple looped bridle, by means of which controlling pressure is exerted on the nose of a horse, used chiefly in breaking colts.
anchorite: a person who has retired to a solitary place for a life of religious seclusion; hermit.
bungstarter: a mallet for loosening or removing the bung of a cask.
purlieu: 1. purlieus, environs or neighborhood. 2. a place where one may range at large; confines or bounds. 3. a person's haunt or resort. 4. an outlying district or region, as of a town or city. 5. a piece of land on the edge of a forest, originally land that, after having been included in a royal forest, was restored to private ownership, though still subject, in some respects, to the operation of the forest laws.
wickiup: 1. (in Nevada, Arizona, etc.) an American Indian hut made of brushwood or covered with mats. 2. (Western U.S.) any rude hut.
porphyry: 1. a very hard rock, anciently quarried in Egypt, having a dark, purplish-red groundmass containing small crystals of feldspar. 2. Petrology; any igneous rock containing coarse crystals, as phenocrysts, in a finer-grained groundmass.
quirt: a riding whip consisting of a short, stout stock and a lash of braided leather.
War: Mankind's blood-lust has rarely been depicted so forthrightly. Brutal, feral genius of a protagonist, Judge Holden says: "War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way."
Hats and scalps; palindromes: Word by word, I believe if someone were to dedicate time to dissect this novel they would unravel the intricately detailed knot that McCarthy has tied. As observed by John Sepich, author of "Notes on Blood Meridian", there are many obvious indicators that the book is somewhat of a large palindrome with a hat being the metaphorical focal point. Since the hat covers the head and so does a scalp(the beginning of the search for meaning of this particular metaphor can begin there but not by me), it makes sense to focus on this item which Sepich identifies as the primary metaphor due to the author's usage of it at equidistant points including the very meridian of the novel noting that the judge is holding "“a panama hat spliced together from two such lesser hats by such painstaking work that the joinery did scarcely show at all." This is preceded and followed by the mentioning of two such hats at the beginning and end of the novel. For more detail visit Sepich's work at his website www.johnsepich.com/cormac_mccarthy/palindrome.pdf.
Genocide: The systematic extermination or attempted extermination of an entire national, racial, religious, or ethnic group. The erasing of a culture.
Evil: The narrator tells us that the character named 'the kid' possesses a "spark of the alien divine". In the actions of the Kid, led by the foul example of Judge Holden and Glanton among others, we see the primeval desire for domination by any means available, trickery, deception, violence, and insatiable blood-lust.
Book Review: When I do my rankings of films and novels, I do them independently. But sometimes, there are some serendipitous placings. Here we have Cormac McCarthy, one of two contemporary writers whose style echoes that of William Faulkner (the other, of course, is Toni Morrison). In some ways, this is not only his most Faulkneresque novel, in both style and content. It is also a brutal, violent book that examines the very nature of evil itself. It is a natural godson to Faulkner’s Sanctuary, which will be the next novel on the list. As is said in Magnolia, “These strange things happen all the time.”There is a line not too far into the book that seems to sum it up succinctly: “I know your kind, he said. What’s wrong with you is wrong all the way through you.” There are many characters in the novel, indeed of all of McCarthy’s work for whom this statement is apt. The two main characters here are the kid and Judge Holden. The kid becomes part of a gang that is marauding its way across the southwest in pursuit of Indian scalps. His life then becomes intertwined with that of the Judge. We follow the trail of the kid as he emerges from his childhood: “Only now is the child finally divested of all that he has been. His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world’s turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man’s will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay.” This is blistering language, the description of something that could have been if only there had been someone else at the potter’s wheel, a Thomas Hardy notion shaped through Faulkner’s style and McCarthy’s language born out of American brutality.
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