The Cormac McCarthy Journal

Articles

Vol. 15, No. 1, 2017

Editor's Introduction
Plans are now well underway for our next Cormac McCarthy conference, which will take place September 1-3, 2017, in Austin, Texas, with presentations beginning on Friday morning and ending mid-day on Sunday. Our sessions will take place at the downtown...
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Vol. 15, No. 2, 2017

Cormac McCarthy's Literary Evolution: Editors, Agents, and the Crafting of a Prolific American Author
King, Daniel Robert. Cormac McCarthy's Literary Evolution: Editors, Agents, and the Crafting of a Prolific American Author. University of Tennessee Press, 2016. Hardcover. 2?2 pp. $ 42. ISBN: 1621902471.Reviewed by Scott YarbroughDaniel Robert King states...
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Cormac McCarthy's Borders and Landscapes
Jillett, Louise, ed. Cormac McCarthy's Borders and Landscapes. Bloomsbury Press, 2016. 245 pp. $107.99. ISBN: 9781501?19129.Reviewed by Julius GreveCormac McCarthy's Borders and Landscapes, edited by Australian Cormackian Louise Jillett, is a major event...
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In Memoriam: Susan Hawkins (1946–2016)
We mourn the loss of Susan Hawkins, respected member of the Cormac McCarthy Society and participant in many Society-sponsored conferences and activities. Professor Hawkins earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Portland State University and in...
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This, Too, Shall Pass: Distant Reading a Future in the Ruins of Cormac McCarthy's Postsouthern Novels
Ambition is now directly proportional to the distance from the text: the more ambitious the project, the greater must the distance be.-FRANCO MORETTI, DISTANT READING (2OI3)Having been a contributing member of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) for over two...
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True and Living Prophet of Destruction: Cormac McCarthy and Modernity
Monk, Nicholas. True and Living Prophet of Destruction: Cormac McCarthy and Modernity. University of New Mexico Press, 2016. Hardcover. 278 pp. $ 65. ISBN: 0826?56796.Reviewed by Mark StevenOn April 20, 2017, Cormac McCarthy published "The Kekulé Problem,"...
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Editor's Introduction
This issue is the first since McCarthy's surprise publication of an essay in the science magazine Nautilus. Titled "The Kekulé Problem," the essay explores the relationship between language and the unconscious and wonders "why . . . the unconscious [is]...
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"He Could Not Call to Mind His Father's Face": Oedipal Collapse and Literary Decline in the Border Trilogy
"Reading/writing people, we are finished, we are ghosts witnessing the end of the literary era"- PHILIP ROTH, EXIT GHOST (186)Writing in 1985, Charles Newman famously characterized postmodern cultural production in general, and postmodern literary production...
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Saving Sheriff Bell: Derrida, McCarthy, and the Opening of Mercantile Ethics in No Country for Old Men
IntroductionIn Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, Sheriff Bell blames the moral barbarism of his age on a "breakdown in mercantile ethics" (304). This enigmatic phrase belies a simple ethical logic: the just is connected to the marketplace; if...
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Cormac McCarthy and Performance: Page, Stage, Screen
Peebles, Stacey. Cormac McCarthy and Performance: Page, Stage, Screen. University of Texas Press, 2017. Hardcover (on demand). 256 pages. $90. ISBN: 978-1-477?-1204-9. Paperback. 256 pages. $29.95. ISBN: 978-1-477?-12?1-65.Reviewed by Dianne C. LuceStacey...
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"Men Are Made of the Dust of the Earth": Time, Space, Matter, and Meaning in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian
Cormac McCarthy's 1985 novel Blood Meridian has over the past thirty years been the subject of increasing scholarly attention, with a number of prominent critics arguing that it is one of the few near-contemporary American novels that may justly be pronounced...
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Vol. 14, No. 1, 2016

"Days of Begging, Days of Theft": The Philosophy of Work in Blood Meridian
It is clear that the figure of manual work plays an important role throughout Cormac McCarthy's writing. A deep sense of attraction to the physical act of work can be traced across the various stages of his oeuvre. From his earliest novel The Orchard...
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Divinations of Agency in Blood Meridian and No Country for Old Men
In Blood Meridian, the free will problem manifests itself as a violent clash between nihilistic affirmations of individual agency and the brute fact of external delimitation. James D. Lilley suggests that the "central question of McCarthy's fiction has...
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"White Pussy Is Nothin but Trouble": Hypermasculine Hysteria and the Displacement of the Feminine Body in Cormac McCarthy's Child of God
Apprehension over the status of white men in post-sixties American culture- the era in which "high" Fordism decays and the period that Cormac McCarthy emerges as a published novelist-refers most directly to the political effects of feminism correlating...
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"In What Direction Did Lost Men Veer?": Late Capitalism and Utopia in the Road
The critical conversation surrounding Cormac McCarthy's most recent novel, The Road, is varied and diverse, producing readings that explore the novel's theological overtones, meditations on the nature of language, and political implications. These varied...
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Editor's Introduction
IntroductionThe last issue of The Cormac McCarthy Journal was a significant one, as it was our first with Penn State University Press. This one also marks a transition-in 2016, CMJ begins biannual publication. It's a nice development for our readers,...
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"Like Some Supplicant to the Darkness over Them All": The Good of John Grady Cole in Cormac McCarthy's Cities of the Plain
The heart of any culture is to be found in the nature of the hero. Who is that man who is revered?-mccarthy, the counselorNot in anger, but only to safeguard the true. To safeguard it everywhere.-mccarthy, the stonemasonThis is what the good guys do....
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The Counselor and Tragic Recognition
The Counselor (both Cormac McCarthy's screenplay and Ridley Scott's film adaptation) has received a markedly cool reception, and there are some good reasons for this.1 It is in several ways derivative of McCarthy's 2005 novel No Country for Old Men,...
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Vol. 14, No. 2, 2016

Salvaging the Counselor: Watching Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott's Really Trashy Movie
In 2013, The Counselor, directed by Academy Award winner Ridley Scott and written by Pulitzer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy, bombed in the American box office.1 Set in contemporary El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, the film observes the consequences for an...
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Blood Meridian's Deathcarts and Angels of Death
Late in Blood Meridian, after the Glanton gang has been destroyed and the protagonist, the man, tries to redefine his life, he comes across a "troubled sect" re-enacting Christ's procession to Calvary (314). Among these self-flagellating men is a figure...
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Cormac McCarthy and the Signs of Sacrament: Literature, Theology, and the Moral of Stories
Matthew L. Potts. CormacMcCarthy and the Signs of Sacrament: Literature, Theology, and the Moral of Stories. Bloomsbury, 20i5. $111 hardcover. 224 pages.In Cormac McCarthy and the Signs of Sacrament, Matthew Potts confronts the collapse of stable metaphysics...
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Editor's Introduction
As I write this in late May-right after my college's graduation weekend and the end of the academic year's busy-ness-I'm thinking about the upcoming conference in Berlin, "Crossroads and Transgressions: Cormac McCarthy between Worlds," to be held July...
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Embodying Violence: The Case of Cormac McCarthy
These are the remarks of Brian Evenson, who gave the keynote address at the recent conference "Fifty Years of Cormac McCarthy." The conference was held at the University of Memphis in October 2015 and celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the publication...
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High Road to Hell: Milton, Blake, McCarthy
In Chapter 11 of Blood Meridian, Judge Holden delivers a campfire sermon on the Anasazi, an ancient indigenous people that occupied what centuries later would become the American Southwest. "The old ones," he calls them. "They quit these parts, routed...
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Human Become Coin: Neoliberalism, Anthropology, and Human Possibilities in No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men begins with Sheriff Ed Tom Bell reminiscing about the only criminal he sent to the gas chamber. The man in question killed his fourteen-year-old girlfriend, and Bell's testimony was decisive in his conviction and sentencing. During...
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Kierkegaard Talking Down Schopenhauer: The Sunset Limited as a Philosophical Dialogue
In 2006, Cormac McCarthy published The Road and a sparser, perhaps even bleaker, book. The front cover calls The Sunset Limited a "novel in dramatic form," but it is simply a conversation between two unnamed characters, Black and White, in a small New...
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Vol. 13, 2015

Editor's Introduction
The first hard-copy issue of The Cormac McCarthy Journal appeared in the spring of 2001, after having existed online since 1998. Edited by John Wegner, the journal included several articles on The Crossing, Marty Priola's review of the film adaptation...
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"Books Are Made out of Books": David Foster Wallace and Cormac McCarthy
The ugly fact is books are made out of books. The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written.- CORMAC MCCARTHYTextual Connections: Wallace and McCarthyBy this point, Cormac McCarthy's most powerful literary reference points have...
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"Another Kind of Clay": On Blood Meridian's Okenian Philosophy of Nature
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Or the Evening Redness in the West (1985), a novel that depicts the journey of a group of scalp hunters through the borderlands of the United States and Mexico in the mid-nineteenth century, contains a passage that deserves...
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"What's He a Judge Of?": The Effacement of Agency and an Ethics of Reading in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian
In Franz Kafka's story,"Before the Law," a man from the country seeks admittance to the law from a gatekeeper who stands guard before it. He is not granted admittance. Instead he waits till admittance may be granted him. He waits until the very brink...
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News Madder Yet: Sources and Significance of Cormac McCarthy's Portrayals of a State Psychiatric Hospital in Child of God and Suttree
The East Tennessee Asylum for the Insane-as it was initially known- opened in 1886 on a 300-acre expanse along the Tennessee River. Once a rural landscape, that site is now cradled by suburban Knoxville, though the asylum operated a large farm for nearly...
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One Drive, Two Deaths in Cormac McCarthy's Child of God
The reality that underlies the fictional worlds of Cormac McCarthy has been the cause of much debate among scholars. Vereen M. Bell characterizes the McCarthian universe as "Heraclitus without Logos," meaning that it represents a protean flux ever tending...
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A Song of Great Order: The Real in Cormac McCarthy's the Crossing
There are few more diaphanous terms in critical theory than "the real." Theorist Charles Shepherdson goes so far as to suggest that an entire "map of postmodernism" could be drawn out based on the term's definition and deployment (1). Primarily at stake...
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Dreaming the Border Trilogy: Cormac McCarthy and Narrative Creativity
Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy dramatizes the power of dreams and waking visions to reveal aspects or dimensions of reality that by their very nature seem resistant to language. The Trilogy accomplishes this through its numerous depictions of character...
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Cannibalism, Consumerism, and Profanation: Cormac McCarthy's the Road and the End of Capitalism
The cannibalism prominent in Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006) significantly places the novel in conversation with depictions of cannibalism in earlier literatures and portrays an imagined end of capitalism linked with other manners of unbridled consumption....
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Religion in Cormac McCarthy's Fiction: Apocryphal Borderlands
Manuel Broncano. Religion in Cormac McCarthy's Fiction: Apocryphal Borderlands. Routledge, 20i3. $ 140 hardcover. 180 pages.Manuel Broncano's Religion in Cormac McCarthy's Fiction: Apocryphal Borderlands is a fine scholarly work with a rather misleading...
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Cormac McCarthy's House: Reading McCarthy without Walls
Peter Josyph. Cormac McCarthy's House: Reading McCarthy without Walls. University of Texas Press, 2oi3. $29.95 hardcover. 3o4 pages.Peter Josyph has long been an unmistakable figure, a force of nature, in McCarthian circles. Filmmaker, actor, director,...
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Vol. 12, No. 1, 2014

Editor's Introduction
This year's issue begins a period of transition for The Cormac McCarthy Journal, as it will be our last before we begin publication with Penn State University Press. In 2015, CMJ will appear in a redesigned and expanded format as part of their family...
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"I Hope It Has a Nice Endin": Rewriting Postmodern Play in Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men
McCarthy's border fiction-to date, five novels including Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses (1992), The Crossing (1994), Cities of the Plain (1998), and No Country for Old Men (2005)-demonstrates a committed interest in games and game playing....
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Drawing Fire from the Text: Narrative and Morality in Blood Meridian
What is death if not an agency? And whom does he intend toward? (Blood Meridian 343).W ~%loodMeridian possesses a curious power to enthrall even as it r^Z meticulously carves landscapes of violence the likes of which many readers have never witnessed....
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"The Light Is All around You, Cept You Dont See Nothin but Shadow:" Narratives of Religion and Race in the Stonemason and the Sunset Limited
Cormac McCarthy makes copious references to God and Christianity throughout his novels and plays, and a key concern of McCarthy scholarship involves an exploration of the role and meaning of the sacred in the fictional worlds he creates. However, there...
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Savage Garden: Edenic Motif and the Paradox of Civilization in Child of God
From the title and outset of Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, the text explicitly frames the ensuing chronicle of Lester Ballard within a quasi-religious context. By asking readers to consider Ballard "[a] child of God much like yourself perhaps" (4)...
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"Where Is Your Country?": Locating White Masculinity in All the Pretty Horses
Men are still largely in charge, mind you, but they are slipping fast. Modern America is a society where... women complete high school and college at significantly higher rates than men, and have new doors of opportunity open to them every day. A society...
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Cormac McCarthy's Debt to Ernest Hemingway's Maestro: Allusions to Arnold Samuelson in All the Pretty Horses
"Books are made out of books," said Cormac McCarthy in 1992 (Woodward). Call it something like Ishmael, Huckleberry M- Finn, or Sal Paradise on horseback; All the Pretty Horses uses travel, distance, and disorientation as narrative modes. The novel also...
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The Cambridge Companion to Cormac McCarthy
Frye, Steven, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Cormac McCarthy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013. 223 pp. Paperback US. $27.99. ISBN 9781107644809.Winner of numerous awards including an Academy of Arts and Letters Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant,...
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Cormac McCarthy and the Writing of American Spaces
Estes, Andrew Keller. Cormac McCarthy and the Writing of American Spaces. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2013. 239 pp. Paperback. $70. ISBN 9789042036291.Review by O. Alan NobleAndrew Keller Estes' new book reveals the usefulness of environmental criticism for reading...
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Vol. 11, No. 1, 2013

Editor's Introduction
Those of us who remember the days when McCarthy was an elusive author-or, further back, when he was a relatively unknown one-would hardly know what to make of the last year. The near-simultaneous publication and film release of The Counselor put McCarthy...
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The Other End of the Road: Re-Reading McCarthy in Light of Thermodynamics and Information Theory1
In a very real sense we are shipwrecked passengers on a doomed planet. Yet even in a shipwreck, human decencies and human values do not necessarily vanish, and we must make the most of them. We shall go down, but let it be in a manner to which we may...
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The Hum of Mystery: Parataxis, Analepsis, and Geophysiology in the Road
When Cormac McCarthy agreed to sit down with Oprah Winfrey in 2007 to discuss The Road (2006), which the television host had selected for her book club, it was a rare opportunity to hear the author talk about his work. Prior to this televised discussion,...
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How to Continue: Sustaining Existence through Beckettian Ritual in McCarthy's the Road
Halfway into Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road, the unnamed father and son pause their journey through a blasted American landscape to interact with Ely. The wandering pair finds this filthy neo-prophet "bent and shuffling" down the road,...
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"Mojado-Reverso": Illegal Immigration and Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy
The 1990's, the decade in which Cormac McCarthy published his Border Trilogy, is recent enough history that it is hard for us to regard it as history. This explains in part why, as José Limón has noted, there has been little attempt to historicize the...
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"Like a Caravan of Carnival Folk": Child of God as Subversive Carnivalesque
They came like a caravan of carnival folk" and converged on the former farm of Lester Ballard, the protagonist of Child of God (McCarthy 3). It is not difficult to notice a link between this novel's opening sentence and Mikhail Bakhtin's Rabelais and...
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Suttree's Dead Acquaintances and McCarthy's Dead Friends
Hey Hatmaker. Tell Hoghead and Donald and Byrd and Bobby and Hugh and Conrad and all of em that they aint barred.They're dead. (Suttree 456)The quoted selection above mentions six of Cornelius Suttree's dead acquaintances in a scene relating a typhoid...
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No More Heroes: Narrative Perspective and Morality in Cormac McCarthy
Cooper, Lydia R. No More Heroes: Narrative Perspective and Morality in Cormac McCarthy. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2011. 185 pp. Hardcover, $38.00, 978-0-8071-3721-5.In No More Heroes, Lydia Cooper finds in Cormac McCarthy's fiction a narrative...
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Styles of Extinction: Cormac McCarthy's the Road
Murphet, Julian and Mark Steven, eds. Styles of Extinction: Cormac McCarthy's The Road. London: Continuum International, 2012. 163 pgs. Paperback US. $25.99. ISBN 978-1-4411-8505-1With this collection Julian Murphet and Mark Steven seek to show that...
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Vol. 10, No. 1, 2012

Let There Be Blood: The Vein of Vietnam in No Country for Old Men
I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville.... And he told me that he had been plannin to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was goin to hell. Told me that out...
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The "Government Tank" in the Orchard Keeper
Who would have thought that the "government tank" in The Orchard Keeper could serve as a literary Rorschach? Just as the doubloon that had been affixed to the mast in Melville's Moby-Dick elicited various responses from members of the Pequod crew, McCarthy's...
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Cormac McCarthy and the Ghost of Huck Finn
Worthington, Leslie Harper. Cormac McCarthy and the Ghost of Huck Finn. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. 223 pages. Paper $40.00, ISBN # 928-0-7864-6641-2.Review by Lydia R. CooperIn this study, Leslie Harper Worthington traces the literary resonance...
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Cormac McCarthy: A Literary Companion
Hage, Erik. Cormac McCarthy: A Literary Companion. Jefferson, North Carolina, and London: McFarland, 2010. 200 pages. Paper $39.95, ISBN # 978-0786443109.Review by Megan Riley McGilchristMcCarthy studies is no longer the relatively open field of even...
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Editor's Introduction
Everybody's talking about McCarthy these days, not least because of news about Ridley Scott filming The Counselor. When the author's spec screenplay showed up in Hollywood, it was quickly snapped up by the producing team behind The Road, and Scott signed...
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"A Howling Void": Beckett's Influence in Cormac McCarthy's the Sunset Limited
In his review of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 novel The Road, Ron Charles claims that the novelist "has moved into the allegorical realm of Samuel Beckett." If Beckett's influence is apparent in that novel, his influence is even more...
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"As Full of Grief as Age": King Lear as Tragic Ancestor to No Country for Old Men
O Sir, you are old.Nature in you stands on the very vergeOf his confine (Regan, King Lear II.iv.139-141)I always thought when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didnt. I dont blame him. (Uncle Ellis, No Country for Old...
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"Some Degenerate Entrepreneur Fleeing from a Medicine Show": Judge Holden in the Age of P.T. Barnum
Judge Holden exerts a tremendous pull on the interpretive energies of Blood Meridian's readers. Enigmatic in speech and spectacular in appearance, he overwhelms with apparent significance: he is one "whose very portent renders [him] ambiguous. Like things...
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Tricksters and Lightbringers in McCarthy's Post-Appalachian Novels
Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.Job 5:7Despite the generic and stylistic differences in the six books published by Cormac McCarthy since he leftTennessee (Blood Meridian, The Border Trilogy, No Country for Old Men, and The Road),...
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Luminous Deceptions: Contingent Community and Aesthetic Form in Cormac McCarthy's the Road
The final passage of Cormac McCarthy's 2006 novel The Road describes a tranquil scene in which a school of trout seems to be in total communion with its environment. These pastoral qualities are out of place in the dystopic context of the novel, and...
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