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Blood Sausage January 31, 2010

Posted by caveblogem in Books.

Just finished Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and found it very interesting and compelling.  I have to wonder a little about the marketing of the thing, though.  My lovely wife got it for me for a Christmas present, upon recommendation of some of her colleagues (she is an English professor), and the blurb on the front of the book didn’t affect her decision either.  And I’m not sure it would affect anyone’s.  But here it is in all its glory:

A classic American novel of regeneration through violence.  McCarthy can only be compared with our great writers, with Melville and Falukner, and this is his masterpiece.

That by Michael Herr, who I don’t know.

I totally agree about the great writer masterpiece stuff at the end, but I’m having a little trouble with the first sentence.  I think that the phrase “regeneration through violence” is from Slotkin, a sort of restatement of  part of the Turner Thesis.  This novel has lots of violence, but I don’t remember any regeneration at all.  A lot of people have interpreted Turner to be saying that a sort of descent into barbarism and the subsequent rebuilding of civilization, again and again, at the frontier, is what made America the type of society is now, democratic and independent and blah, blah.

Having a hard time seeing the part of the book where civilization is rebuilt.  Maybe the reader is supposed to imagine that part.  Is it at that point where the action becomes so disgustingly violent and abhorrent that the characters can no longer describe it, are finally rendered speechless?  Is that it?  The narrator is so viciously raped (or something) that the writer can’t even imagine the words to describe it? Or perhaps the people in this awful manufacturing town depicted in the final scenes have, despite the fact that they have finally stripped the skin off the last of the buffaloes, become so civilized that the state that the narrator is left in is observed without comment. I like that explanation best of all, but it leaves a little to be desired, since it makes civilization look an awful lot like mere exhaustion.

I am, obviously, still thinking about all of this.

We’ll see if it works for viewers in the same way when the movie comes out next year.


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