This is one of the major studies of Cormac McCarthy's fiction. This volume has 368 pages of easy-to-read text. Its scope stretches from McCarthy's early short stories through the western trilogy, organized into logical chapters and with generous notations, a complete bibliography, and a helpful index.
Here is John Cant in a footnote on the comparing BLOOD MERIDIAN TO MOBY DICK:
"The judge may be likened to to Melville's whale in his mythic form, his size and colouring, his destructive power and his multiple meanings. The whale symbolized both the creative and destructive power of nature, both life and death. Its whiteness reflected that nihilism that so haunted the nineteenth century imagination. The judge parallels these meanings, as they inhere in culture. In the twentieth century it is culture that has the power to be monstrous." --n. 68, p. 309.
On page 171, Cant says:
"Blood Meridian is McCarthy's homage to Moby Dick. Melville wrote of America's hubristic drive to dominate nature; Ahab pursued the whale and it destroyed him. The kid, in his 'cluelessness' state of nature travels the southwest in search of meaning; he finds the judge and is destroyed.'
"Try as he might he cannot escape the culture of his day, that overweening, hubristic that believed that reason could solve all ills and usher in endless progress. It is the hermit on the prairie that poses the fundamental question, 'But where does a man come by such notions?'
"The answer is, of course, from his culture. What McCarthy attacks in Blood Meridian is gnosis, the faith in systems of knowledge and belief that claim a validity that cannot ever exist.'
"This is another of his consistant themes, the notion that the intellectual grids, including language itself, that we deploy in order to mediate our experience of the world are incomplete, provisional, mythic, and distinct from the world that they purport to define..."
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There is a wealth of solid Cormac McCarthy critical literature from which to choose, but this volume is not to be missed.