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Blood Meridian: Or, the Evening Redness in the West (Modern Library) [Hardcover]

Cormac McCarthy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Feb 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."

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc; New edition edition (8 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679641041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679641049
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.7 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island. He later went to Chicago, where he worked as an auto mechanic while writing his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. The Orchard Keeper was published by Random House in 1965; McCarthy's editor there was Albert Erskine, William Faulkner's long-time editor. Before publication, McCarthy received a travelling fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which he used to travel to Ireland. In 1966 he also received the Rockefeller Foundation Grant, with which he continued to tour Europe, settling on the island of Ibiza. Here, McCarthy completed revisions of his next novel, Outer Dark. In 1967, McCarthy returned to the United States, moving to Tennessee. Outer Dark was published in 1968, and McCarthy received the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1969. His next novel, Child of God, was published in 1973. From 1974 to 1975, McCarthy worked on the screenplay for a PBS film called The Gardener's Son, which premiered in 1977. A revised version of the screenplay was later published by Ecco Press. In the late 1970s, McCarthy moved to Texas, and in 1979 published his fourth novel, Suttree, a book that had occupied his writing life on and off for twenty years. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, and published his fifth novel, Blood Meridian, in 1985. All the Pretty Horses, the first volume of The Border Trilogy, was published in 1992. It won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was later turned into a feature film. The Stonemason, a play that McCarthy had written in the mid-1970s and subsequently revised, was published by Ecco Press in 1994. Soon thereafter, the second volume of The Border Trilogy, The Crossing, was published with the third volume, Cities of the Plain, following in 1998. McCarthy's next novel, No Country for Old Men, was published in 2005. This was followed in 2006 by a novel in dramatic form, The Sunset Limited, originally performed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago. McCarthy's most recent novel, The Road, was published in 2006 and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Product Description


Cormac McCarthy is now the greatest American novelist --The Times<br /><br />It's 1849 and the 14-year-old nameless "kid" has drifted into the violent life of an outlaw band of bloodthirsty Indian hunters on the Texas-Mexico borders. Grotesque characters play out their roles against an unforgiving landscape. The understated southern drawl is just right, suggesting the symbolic richness of McCarthy's language. --Rachel Redford, The Observer

Voiced here with slow deliberation, the nightmarishly enigmatic Judge - a man who declares he feels the personal freedom of birds as a personal insult - is a presence I'm finding horribly difficult to shake. --Bella Todd, Time Out

Having thought that no book could ever be as harrowing or as frightening as McCarthy's apocalyptic Pulitzer prize-winning The Road (I finished it at 3am sitting up in bed with the light on), here's an even bleaker story about man's inhumanity to man. It's set in the familiar Tex-Mex territory of All the Pretty Horses, his best book, and its hero, the kid, like John Grady Cole, is a 16-year-old drifter who pretty much lives in the saddle. There, alas, the resemblance ends this is definitely not a love story. It's an allegory about survival, lawlessness and natural justice. The kid, who's been living, scavenging, fighting, killing, surviving on his own since he was 12, heads for the Apache wars circa 1840 in the legendary Wild West and joins a troop of mercenaries paid in gold for Indian scalps. The battle scenes are absolutely terrifying. Bullets, arrows, decapitated heads flying, the braves daubed with war paint, some naked, some wearing the looted clothing of their victims US army jackets, whalebone corsets and ruffled shirts the Americans by now so blood-crazed and inured to violence that they massacre Indians, Mexican peons and peaceful settlers indiscriminately. McCarthy's prose is compelling, a potent mix of stark and lyrical: The night sky lies so spread with stars that there is scarcely space for black at all and they fall all night in bitter arcs and it is so that their numbers are no less. The little prairie wolves cry all night and dawn finds him in the grassy draw where he'd gone to hide from the wind. The hobbled mule stands over him and watches the east for light. The sun that rises is the colour of steel, his mounted shadow falls for miles before him. Brilliant, but not for the faint-hearted. --Sue Arnold, The Guardian --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting 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 the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving. ‘McCarthy’s achievement is to establish a new mythology which is as potent and vivid as that of the movies, yet one which has absolutely the opposite effect . . . He is a great writer’ Independent ‘I have rarely encountered anything as powerful, as unsettling, or as memorable as Blood Meridian . . . A nightmare odyssey’ Evening Standard ‘His masterpiece . . .The book reads like a conflation of the Inferno, The Iliad and Moby Dick. I can only declare that Blood Meridian is unlike anything I have read in recent years, and seems to me an extraordinary, breathtaking achievement’ John Banville --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
"Blood Meridian", based on real events, charts the bloody adventures of a group of scalp-hunters in the west a century and a half ago.
The extreme (and random) violence of the novel's many gore-infested passages is too much for many stomachs, but then again life in all its raw honesty often is. Ironically for a novel dealing mainly with death and desolation, the finely-honed prose cascades and sparks off the page like a Catherine wheel, literally taking this reader's breath away.
Throughout, the novel is bestrode by the looming figure of Judge Holden, awesome and terrible, all-knowing yet uncaring, omnipotent and omnipresent, an 1850s reworking of the devil.
Read this novel for the stark beauty of its prose, read it for the terror created by the graphic descriptions of the violence man can - and does - commit on man, read it for the surprising amount of dry, laconic humour in the dialogue, read it to discover the Judge, one of literature's great creations. But read it.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A White Desert Sand, Turned Pink and Red 26 Mar 2007
Those with weak stomachs need not open the pages of this book. From beginning to end, this is one long travail of unadulterated gore and brutality. It's major mythic character, the Judge, states that war is divine, that nothing on the earth is beyond his notice or does not require his permission to die. And brutal, violent death occurs with great regularity within this book, every couple of pages or so.

The setting is the West and Mexico around the period of 1847, and the license to kill without discrimination is enabled by the Judge's charter of killing and scalping renegade Indians for bounty. If that was all that this group did, perhaps the reader could make some allowance for the portrayed actions, but it quickly becomes apparent that anyone is a target, regardless of guilt, innocence, age, occupation, race, gender, or prior actions. The book becomes a dark celebration of violence for violence's sake.

The Kid, fourteen years old at the start of this book, is the nominal protagonist, drawn into the Judge's group mainly because he had nothing better to do, without other skills or any ambitions. And he is practically the only ray of light within this whole concoction, as he (once or twice) actually shows a little feeling for persons besides himself.

The Judge is an enigmatic super-something, ageless, multilingual, educated, interested in ecology, and much larger than life. Who (or what) the Judge is is clearly central to this book's theme, but he certainly can stand as an avatar of an element of human nature that most people would rather not think about.

McCarthy's prose is very distinct, with odd syntax, unquoted dialogue, and considerable use of some rather rare words. His descriptions of the country are, in some places, nearly prose poems.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal yet beautiful! 10 May 2007
I had never read McCarthy but picked up this book along with "The Road" due to all the Hype from the Oprah book club selection. While the "The Road" is a very good book it is not the masterpiece of "Blood Meridian." This is the most powerful books I have ever read. McCarthy's style is highlighted here: sharp, dry, brittle, and panoramic. I was enraptured by how McCarthy was able to capture the imagery of the southwest landscape with his words. The story itself is horrific, epic, and yet commonplace, the conquering of the west and its people by the whiteman has been better illustrated. On top of all this McCarthy is a grand story teller, who can stretch the limits of imagination without losing the common touch-in other words he keeps it REAL. This is a challenge, but worthy one!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Gruesome, Weird 8 Dec 2007
My book jacket says BLOOD MERIDIAN "...chronicles the extraordinary violence of the Glanton Gang, a murderous cadre on an official mission to scalp Indians." Wikipedia adds that John Glanton "led a gang of scalp hunters. Nominally a mercenary operation hired by Mexican authorities to track down and kill dangerous bands of Apaches, the gang began murdering and scalping non-Apaches and massacring citizens..." and were eventually "declared outlaws."

McCarthy's entry to the Glanton gang comes through two characters. The first is the Kid, who joins up in his mid-teens and participates in its gruesome crimes. The second is Judge Holden, who dominates the gang and has a philosophical view of its random violence.

In McCarthy's hands, the story of the Glanton gang is like a psychopathic road novel, which is held together with genius-quality poetic writing. Read BM and be captured by McCarthy's immense talent as the gang traverses the Southwest and northern Mexico. I open BM at random (the start of Chapter 14) and find:

"All to the north the rain had dragged black tendrils down from the thunderclouds like tracings of lampblack fallen in a beaker and in the night they could hear the drum of rain miles away on the prairie. They ascended through a rocky pass and lightning shaped out the distant shivering mountains and lightning rang the stones about and tufts of blue fire clung to the horses like incandescent elementals that would not be driven off. Soft smelterlights advanced upon the metal of the harness, lights ran blue and liquid on the barrels of the guns. Mad jackhares started and checked in the blue glare and high among those clanging crags jokin roehawks crouched in their feathers or cracked a yellow eye at the thunder underfoot.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Who can discover the engine of his ruin?
This extraordinary book has gathered plaudits from all sides and is revered as an example of historical fiction that tells the true story of the Glanton gang, who had been hired to... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Eileen Shaw
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Read this after reading Philipp Meyers "The Son" which some reviewers had compared to this book. Found the story to be fragmented and the prose difficult. Read more
Published 24 days ago by JoeTigger
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
One of the most shockingly violent and beautifully written books I've ever read. The character of the judge is captivating and terrifying in equal measure , a definite read
Published 1 month ago by Ryan Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh yes
I moan about going to work on Mondays never again. A scalp tingling piece of work from the master story teller.
Published 1 month ago by Kevin John Marner
5.0 out of 5 stars As beautiful as it is disturbing
What can one add to the mountains of commentary that already exists about this book? It contains some of the most poetic passages I've ever read, juxtaposed with some of the most... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Abiola O. Lapite
1.0 out of 5 stars Lonesome Dove it's not!
I purchased this book, along with the border trilogy, based on a good recommendations from friends who had read it but I found the style irritating, very hard to follow and coupled... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Philip W. Newstead
5.0 out of 5 stars Just breath-taking
I'm not even entirely sure this book had much of a story. It was more like a very morbid travelogue through a very nasty time. It didn't matter. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Miguel Pascual
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Set in the last century this a great tale of the old west and the Indian wars of that era and the life story of one of the charecters
Published 3 months ago by Ronald Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars The grimmest book I couldn't put down
Don't read this if you're squeamish. This is an unrelenting meddle of violence and human depravity, but the most chilling thing about it is its ring of truth. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
Until I read this book I never reread a book directly after the first read. It is brilliant! If not for college related reading at the moment I would read it again! Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Carpenter
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