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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.

Review

"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
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic Nov. 20 2001
Format:Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Red Xala TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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 readings, with English and Spanish dictionaries in hand.

Multilayered with symbolism and meaning, and masterfully crafted with bilingual verbosity and unorthodox syntax, Cormic McCarthy presents a nightmarish reality where moral law is a cipher in toto.

So far, I have read this sublime offering by McCarthy only once; I definitely intend to read it again.  However, truth be told, BLOOD MERIDIAN is not an easily digestible piece of pap writing; it is a hauntingly graphic work of historical fiction that requires ample time for rumination and ancillary study.

Without question,  BLOOD MERIDIAN is one of the most brutal pieces of literature that I have ever read.  Set in the U.S./Mexican borderlands, in the immediate aftermath of the Mexican-American war, McCarthy vivid portrays an inhospitable, lawless region where extreme violence is the modus operandi, and benevolence is nearly non-existent. 

I reiterate, the unflinching levels of violence portrayed by McCarthy are tantamount to "total war":  American soldiers scalped, disemboweled, and sodomized by Comanche warriors; Apache infants' heads dashed against rocks until their brains spill out; genitals severed and stuffed into victims' mouths; men skewered over fires and burned alive; children abducted, raped, and murdered... 

At the epicenter of this panoply of blood lust is the Mephistophelian antagonist  known as Judge Holden, or "The Judge" - a seven foot tall, completely hairless, Caucasian leader of a band of vicious criminals that has been commissioned to collect Apache scalps.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too violent for me. Jan. 20 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all, take my review with a grain of salt since I stopped reading halfway through (p. 160 of the edition I have). Although the writing was beautiful, the relentless violence and cruelty started to really get to me. I had to read with two dictionaries beside me (one English and one Spanish-English) because I don't understand Spanish, and I started to wonder if I understood English as well. McCarthy's sentences and diction are beautiful and precise, poetic and kinda neo-Biblical. I learned many new words, which is a good thing. I suppose you could skip the dictionaries and just read along without getting hung up on comprehending every single word, but that effort didn't bother me much. The story's violence, however, got the best of me and I felt relieved to finally stop. First book I have given up on in ten years, I think. His novel The Road is perhaps my favorite novel ever, so I was a bit disappointed that I did not have the stomach for this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book? June 10 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome April 22 2014
By Will
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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 makes "Blood Meridian" the best book I have read in years. Must Read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone Dec 30 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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. The language is the story, the plot at times seems barely relevant. Characters are not knowable and yet they are burned into my memory. Each word seems to have been carefully chosen. I needed to reference a dictionary or some other outside source on nearly every page.

A difficult story to understand. And I don't understand it yet, but I still give it top marks because I keep coming back for more.

I suspect a lot of readers will be turned away by the extreme violence. I am not really sure why I wasn't.

To me, the experience of reading "Blood Meridian" was worth all the discomfort.
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Most recent customer reviews
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 4 months ago by Karen Dubin
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 20 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
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
2.0 out of 5 stars Over rated
I am glad I didn't pay for this book. Get it from your local public library. It is okay, but not great. "The Kid" is hardly mentioned. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2007 by Give Me Something I Can Use
5.0 out of 5 stars Langauge
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... Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2005
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