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A Reader's Guide to Blood Meridian Paperback – April 13, 2008
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Both scholars and casual readers will find this work rewarding, even if they already have copies of John Sepich's masterful NOTES ON BLOOD MERIDIAN, which preceded this work and is now also available in a new expanded edition.
I would now like to review the first fifty pages, Shane Schimpf's Nietzschean interpretation of the novel. While this interpretation is as valid as any, and might seem handy for college students, readers should be aware that it is not the only interpretation. Just one of many. I wish that Mr. Schimpf had published this separately, or had provided more notations of the alternative published arguments, or else had simply let readers choose their own interpretations. A guide should simply be a guide.
Mr. Schimpf states his opinion that the words of McCarthy's fictional Judge Holden express Cormac McCarthy's own philosophy. Again, readers new to McCarthy crit-lit should be aware that this is just one of many takes on the novel, among them the Christian, Gnostic, Marxist, and Buddhist interpretations. To me, the novel does not belong to the Judge, but to the kid, the conscript everyman.
Again, this is the second and improved edition of a valuable and handy resource, in which the author seeks out the primary historical sources for a closer look. Scholarship is never definitive and always ongoing, and readers of this work are encouraged to also dip into the great wealth of alternate Cormac McCarthy crit-lit now available.
There are two parts to A READER'S GUIDE TO BLOOD MERIDIAN. The second part consists of almost 300 pages of notes or annotations, usefully keyed to each page of the original Random House hardcover and Vintage International paperback editions of "Blood Meridian". Many of those annotations are little more than definitions for, or glosses on, McCarthy's vocabulary, and many of them were unnecessary (for example, "diffident", "causeway", "parricide", "effigy", and "ford", from the first few pages of the notes). And, at times, compiler/editor Schimpf gets a little pedantic. (For example, his entry for "denizenry" reads: "A neologism. A denizen is an inhabitant of a certain place or region. It follows that denizenry must refer to the population of a certain place or region.") But with a little experience, I trained myself to ignore the notes I didn't need or appreciate, and I very much appreciated the balance - annotations on historical figures or places, literary references, McCarthy's sources or possible sources, and translations of the occasional Spanish dialogue. It was too cumbersome to refer to A READER'S GUIDE as I turned each page of the novel, so I ended up skimming the notes for each chapter of the novel after having read that chapter - a way of proceeding I recommend to other readers of the novel.
The other part of A READER'S GUIDE is Schimpf's 51-page "Overview" or Introduction. I read it only after having read and then thinking about the novel for a couple days, but I find it quite good.Read more ›
Shane Schimpf provides an overview first, which includes a Nietzsche-derived interpretation of the novel. While this interpretation is as valid as any, and might seem handy for college students, readers should be aware that it is not the only interpretation. Just one of many. I wish that Mr. Schimpf had provided notations of the alternative published arguments or else had toned down or omitted this part of it and let readers choose their own interpretations. A guide should simply be a guide.
There follows the heart of the book, in an easy-to-read font. An examination of the epigraphs is followed by a page-by-page, chapter-by-chapter annotation of the novel. Many of the entries are brief, but often he pauses to give short biographies or extended explanations. There is a handy subject index followed by a bibliography of sources. New readers and college students will find this an immensely valuable and enlightening work.
The author acknowledges his debt to John Sepich's NOTES ON BLOOD MERIDIAN, the standard authority on McCarthy's masterpiece since 1993, and this more accessible volume will likely reach a much wider audience.
No work such as this is definitive, as the author freely admits, and a second and revised edition of this work is almost inevitable somewhere down the line.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Buy this book! And you can buy it directly from the author. I'm a new reader of the literature of Cormac McCarthy. Read morePublished on September 2, 2010 by Amazon Customer
A Reader's Guide to Blood Meridian gives insight to Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.I first read the book, then I purchased this guide and reread Blood Meridian with this... Read morePublished on April 23, 2009 by Bettye
Let's face it, Blood Meridian is an easy read from the aspect that it's a work of art, but from a literary stand point, it's a harder read than a rattlesnake at a thousand yards. Read morePublished on February 20, 2009 by Mike