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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 (171 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
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Corey Lidster TOP 50 REVIEWER
Blood Meridian is unquestionably the best novel ever written by anyone, anytime, anywhere, about anything. More important than the Bible multiplied by the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, with a heaping tablespoon of Faulkner drizzled over The Killer Angels.

[These assertions were tested using: a 1st edition; a centrifuge; gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer; a fingernail from the writing hand of a literary critic from the New York Times Book Review; the blood of the world's most erudite chicken -- whom I had personally educated using the standard method involving audiobooks and telepathy; Satanic Death Rituals, although my attempts to resurrect Cormac McCarthy ran aground when I discovered he was still alive; a homemade voodoo curse I assembled using spare parts from the Necronomicon and Cat Fancy magazine; and most importantly, frozen yogurt. In the end, I found that actually reading the book worked almost as well.]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Harrison Koehli TOP 500 REVIEWER
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 (Vintage International), both adapted for the screen in recent years. McCarthy presents a world of chaos, violence, and inhumanity, a bleak landscape peopled by mercenaries, malice, and violence. But just as his desolate vision and descriptions of the horrific violence which characterized the much mythicized "Old West" are interspersed with expertly rich and poetic language, what at first appears to be a cynical and wholly amoral worldview holds something deeper nestled within.

The book follows the fictionalized exploits of the historical Glanton gang, a group of mercenaries hired to kill Apache Indians in Mexico after the Mexican-American wa. Throughout the book stands the enigmatic and frightening character of Judge Holden, who many reviewers see as the personification of evil and perhaps the Devil himself. While the Biblical tone of the book definitely suggests this interpretation, McCarthy is as always saying something about the very real manifestations of evil in a world often viewed through rose-colored glasses. Holden is in fact a typical, if exceptional, psychopath. He is ruthless, remorseless, intelligent and malicious. He is larger than life and embodies the psychopathic worldview. (See Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us and
... Read more ›
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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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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 4 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 6 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 7 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 19 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 21 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 22 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 23 months ago by shotgunsteve
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Sie mussen schalfen aber Ich muss tanzen.
McCarthy writes in such beautiful, abstract, and often confusing, images. I've never encountered a prose so close to verse in all my years, as if many of the passages through BLOOD... Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2008 by Benjamin Anderson
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