Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is an epic novel set in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico in the 1840s. It follows the story of a young man, known as “the kid”, who joins the Glanton gang, a group of scalp hunters and murderers led by the evil Judge Holden.

The novel is a critique of mankind itself, exploring the violence inherent in our species despite our modern day desire to place ourselves on a peace-loving pedestal.

McCarthy uses violent characters, particularly the judge, to show that humans have always been drawn to violence and that violence is a natural characteristic of humans.

The novel also explores themes of religion and morality. In the brutal frontier of the 1840s, a variety of cultures interacted violently. The novel’s violence is constant and present across all groups.

McCarthy represents this violence as not just an inescapable fact of the foundation of modern America but part of man’s inherent nature.

He continually uses biblical language and imagery to represent the characters and settings, yet the world of Blood Meridian is defined by the absence rather than the presence of God.

The novel also examines the power of nature and how it affects the characters. McCarthy depicts a world without law, a fruitless, loveless world where survival means a struggle to death.

It is alas savage indictment of Manifest Destiny and the Western genre, exposing the violent formation of the United States of America. It is a powerful exploration of religion, morality, and the power of nature.

What I Liked

The setting, imagery, prose, and characters are all just perfect and classic. I reminds me a bit of East of Eden and has only been matched recently by The Son by Philip Meyer.

What I Did Not Like

I felt like the plot was a bit harder to follow in this book than his others – but likely because this one is part of a series. I do think I’d need to re-read it to get the most out of it.

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