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Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West [Hardcover]

Cormac McCarthy , Harold Bloom
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 2 2001 Modern Library
"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 Faulkner," writes esteemed literary scholar Harold Bloom in his Introduction to the Modern Library edition. "I venture that no other living American novelist, not even Pynchon, has given us a book as strong and memorable."

Cormac McCarthy's masterwork, Blood Meridian, chronicles the brutal world of the Texas-Mexico borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century. Its wounded hero, the teenage Kid, must confront the extraordinary violence of the Glanton gang, a murderous cadre on an official mission to scalp Indians and sell those scalps. Loosely based on fact, the novel represents a genius vision of the historical West, one so fiercely realized that since its initial publication in 1985 the canon of American literature has welcomed Blood Meridian to its shelf.

"A classic American novel of regeneration through violence," declares Michael Herr. "McCarthy can only be compared to our greatest writers."

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"The men as they rode turned black in the sun from the blood on their clothes and their faces and then paled slowly in the rising dust until they assumed once more the color of the land through which they passed." If what we call "horror" can be seen as including any literature that has dark, horrific subject matter, then Blood Meridian is, in this reviewer's estimation, the best horror novel ever written. It's a perverse, picaresque Western about bounty hunters for Indian scalps near the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s--a ragged caravan of indiscriminate killers led by an unforgettable human monster called "The Judge." Imagine the imagery of Sam Peckinpah and Heironymus Bosch as written by William Faulkner, and you'll have just an inkling of this novel's power. From the opening scenes about a 14-year-old Tennessee boy who joins the band of hunters to the extraordinary, mythic ending, this is an American classic about extreme violence. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"McCarthy is a writer to be read, to be admired, and quite honestly—envied."
—Ralph Ellison

"McCarthy is a born narrator, and his writing has, line by line, the stab of actuality. He is here to stay."
—Robert Penn Warren

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the modern masterpieces of fiction. Aug. 21 2003
"The thunder moved up from the southwest and lightning lit the desert all about them, blue and barren, great clanging reaches ordered out of the absolute night like some demon kingdom summoned up, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid, like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone but fear."

Based on historical sources, written in an Old Testament style all its own, laced with gallows humor, synchronized with stellar and cosmological references, aglow with bright literary references to Melville's MOBY DICK and Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS. It has been highly praised by such diverse literary figures as Harold Bloom, Stephen King, Donna Tartt, Steve Hamilton, and Madison Smartt Bell. To get some inkling of the brilliance of this novel, see John Sepich's NOTES ON BLOOD MERIDIAN or go to the Cormac McCarthy website.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic Nov. 20 2001
I recently saw Harold Bloom, the famous literary scholar from Yale, on a television show where he stated that Blood Meridian was the greatest work of any contemporary American author. I agree. I can't think of anything I've read that even comes close to this novel. First, you have the prose style, which is so controlled and crafted and at the same time flows so naturally that it must have taken years to develop. It reminded me of a missing book from the bible: hypnotic, enigmatic, ancient and at the same time, familiar. I kept thinking of the ocean when I was reading it because of the vastness of the landscape he describes. It seems as if the characters are on a journey, but they're not, unless they're circling further and further down into hell.
I think the familiarity of the novel comes from it's relation to violence from a Christian standpoint. There's no doubt that McCarthy intends to have us react to this book from a moral perspective and yet at the same time be fascinated with it's violence. The setting, the wild wicked west, is a part of the American psyche that still takes forms today in our action films and tv shows that feed our hunger for blood and murder. By taking us back to our roots, stripping away the restraints of our Judeo-Christian values, MCCarthy steeps the story of death and evil in biblical prose and washes it with blood so that we see our dark selves reflected in all our ugliness.
I compare this work to the works of the great Russian novelists ,Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, who always went for the big questions, What is life?, Who is God?, What is morality? and the American Moby Dick which encapsulated a universe. When you read books like these a lot of what appears on the bestseller lists seems so meaningless.
This is a book you simply stand in awe of if you're a writer or ever thought of being one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Langauge Sept. 5 2005
By A Customer
It is actually immaterial that the book is based on "actual events". Shakespeare's history plays emerge from circumstance but transmute those circumstances by a use of language which compels us to tread an alien landscape, attentive to its
details if we wish to come through it.
To merely deride this work's language, in the dismissive way
of some reviewers ( "pretentious") does not meet the challenge
McCarthy set for himself in writing this work.
If a professor read these words in a student's paper he would know that he was reading the words of a transfiguring author:
Now wolves had come to follow them, great pale lobos with yellow eyes that trotted neat of foot or squatted in the shimmering heat to watch them where they made their noon halt. Moving on again. Loping, sidling, ambling with their long noses
to the ground. In the evening their eyes shifted and winked out there on the edge of the firelight and in the morning when the riders rode out in the cool dark they could hear the snarling and the pop of their mouths behind them as they sacked the camp for meatscraps."
"They rode in a narrow enfilade along a trail strewn with he dry round turds of goats and they rode with their faces averted from the rock wall and the bake oven air which it rebated, the slant black shapes of the mounted men stenciled across the stone with a definition austere and implacable like shapes capable of violating their covenant with the flesh that authored them and continuing autonomous across the naked rock without reference to sun or man or god."
Note, I have deliberately not chosen climactic moments to
provide evidence of McCarthy's power and originality.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Look at Our Brutal Past Jan. 22 2004
A friend recommended this book to me because I had recently taken a trip to Texas's Big Bend National Park. After I had described my experience and what little history I had picked up in four days, she pointed me toward Cormac McCarthy. This was a wonderful coincidence because being out there had left me with a sense of wonder and many questions about the people and history of the area.
For much of the 19th century, West Texas was disputed territory. Though remote and barren, this Native American land was alternately claimed by Mexico, Spain, The United States, and of course Texas. This book is full of bloody battles, with the constant feeling of some great Darwinian process at work. Most novels have fewer characters than this one manages to kill off in the first half.
Granted, a novel may not be the best way to learn history, but I get the impression that no one really knows what day-to-day life was like out there. If it was anything like McCarthy's description, it was a brutal, amoral time. I'll warn you: this book has a lot of violence and gore. And there are no good guys, just survivors and corpses.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book?
I love Cormac McCarthy, and this is my favorite of all his novels. If you like this, check out All the Pretty Horses and The Road.
Published 3 months ago by Russell Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Best western novel ever written. The imagery that Cormack McCarthy evokes through his writings is astounding, contrasting this with the brutal hardships endured by the characters... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Will
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
First time reading McCarthy. Challenging, mystifying, nauseating, wow. Feels like I just swam upstream in a freezing river. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Karen Dubin
5.0 out of 5 stars Judge Holden:  McCarthy's Mephistopheles - 4.5 stars
To put it plainly, BLOOD MERIDIAN is like nothing that I have ever read before; any serious attempt at gaining a contextual understanding of this text will require multiple... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Red Xala
3.0 out of 5 stars Too violent for me.
First of all, take my review with a grain of salt since I stopped reading halfway through (p. 160 of the edition I have). Read more
Published 20 months ago by allison dysart
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone
My choice for an all time great novel. There is so much going on in this novel, I can't really review it.

It is epic. It is classic. It is historic. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Maurice Pratt
5.0 out of 5 stars In the dictionary, under "Grit"
A friend insisted that I read this book. I haven't read too many westerns, and lean more towards science fiction and nonfiction - but appreciate any quality work. Read more
Published 21 months ago by shotgunsteve
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fragility of Conscience in a Psychopathic World
Widely considered to be McCarthy's masterpiece, Blood Meridian explores the same themes which reached a wide audience in his more recent works The Road and No Country for Old Men... Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2010 by Harrison Koehli
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to review, really...
I enjoyed reading this book, if only for the sake of McCarthy's beautiful prose. But I'm at a loss as to how to interpret my reaction to it. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2009 by spockrocket
5.0 out of 5 stars Get out your dictionary
It took me a while but I finally finished and loved this book. I'll admit I spent some time looking up the definitions to some words but I don't think you can read this without... Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2009 by Anthony England
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