Literary historical relations in Cormac McCarthy's Blood meridian

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Thomas Alexander Vasilos (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Scott Romine

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of Samuel Chamberlain's My Confession and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick on Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. Cormac McCarthy states that "books are made out of books," and in identifying two novels which McCarthy cites as influence of Blood Meridian, the goal was to determine the varying manners in which McCarthy engaged both texts, ultimately coming to the conclusion that Blood Meridian is a compression, and literal flattening, of both of these works. From My Confession, McCarthy primarily draws from the work for historical purposes. Many of the men in Blood Meridian are historically accurate sketches from Chamberlain's work, and McCarthy's Judge Holden completely owes his existence to Chamberalain, as My Confession is the only mention of Holden in any document. In illuminating key passages from Chamberlain's work, and placing them in direct contact with similar passages from Blood Meridian, readers are able to comprehend the ramifications of McCarthy's choice to either adhere to Chamberlain's text or deviate from it. From Moby-Dick, instead of primarily drawing from historical sources, McCarthy utilizes Melville's novel in terms of character, plot, setting, and language. The points of contact between the two works are numerous, and at times highly visible. In examining the similarities and differences between the two works in areas of contact, readers are able to better understand McCarthy's compression of the works, as certain aspects of Blood Meridian are elucidated in placing them in conversation with Moby-Dick.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, Samuel Chamberlain, My Confession, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
McCarthy, Cormac, $d 1933- $t Blood meridian
Melville, Herman, $d 1819-1891. $t Moby Dick
Chamberlain, Samuel E. $q (Samuel Emery), $d 1829-1908. $t My confession
Melville, Herman, $d 1819-1891. $x Influence
Chamberlain, Samuel E. $q (Samuel Emery), $d 1829-1908. $x Influence

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