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A Reader's Guide to Blood Meridian Paperback – April 13, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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About the Author

Shane Schimpf lives in Seattle, Washington. He attended Oberlin College, majoring in Philosophy and History, and then the University of Michigan where he was a doctoral student in Philosophy. His studies focused on Philosophy of Mind with special emphasis on theories of consciousness. After moving to Seattle in 1994, he pursued a career in information technology. When not working, Mr. Schimpf enjoys reading, writing, poker, basketball and exercising. This is his first published work.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Bon Mot Publishing; 2nd edition (April 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0978834917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978834913
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,046,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Richard L. Pangburn VINE VOICE on August 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
The bulk of this book, the last 300 pages of it, presents a valuable addition to the crit-lit on Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece, BLOOD MERIDIAN. The definitions and historical notes are arranged in a reader-friendly page-by-page format, with translations of the foreign terms and astute explanations, elaborations, and speculations on the many arcane references.

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.
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Format: Paperback
For anyone looking to improve their understanding of Blood Meridian, this guide is a must-have. It covers the novel in a clear, beginning-to-end format allowing you to refer back to the guide with ease any time that you come across one of the myriad unfamiliar words, phrases, historical persons and places found in McCarthy's rich literary landscape. There is an amazing amount of information packed in the pages, but because of its user-friendly format it would be useful tool for any reader of the book; someone using the guide as a Blood Meridian 'dictionary' of sorts will be served just as well as the reader looking for a comprehensive source of references, maps, translations and the like. The analysis of McCarthy's motivations is also interesting and well-argued; while one is hard pressed to ever really know what an author had in mind when writing a novel, the ideas presented here seem right on the mark.
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This is an admirable and useful secondary source on Cormac McCarthy's classic "Blood Meridian" - better than I expected for a self-published work by a fan from outside the academy.

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.
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Format: Paperback
A READER'S GUIDE TO BLOOD MERIDIAN is just what the title proclaims, providing a comprehensive glossary for all of the difficult terms, translations of the novel's many foreign words and phrases, and much of the lore behind the novel's historical characters and places.

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.
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