In just the last two decades, Cormac McCarthy has ascended terrain as sheer as any depicted in his fiction: from an award-winning “writer’s writer” with a cult following who had never sold more than a few thousand copies of his first five published novels, he rose to the top of best seller lists, became a popular commodity for Hollywood adaptations, and has gained a reputation as one of the authors who best represent that certain something that is our American culture. Edited by David Cremean, Associate Professor of English at Black Hills State University and an editor for The Cormac McCarthy Journal, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the American writer. For readers who are studying McCarthy for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of his life and four essays survey the critical reception of McCarthy’s work, explore its cultural and historical contexts, situate McCarthy among his contemporaries, and review key themes in his work. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other essays that explore topics like McCarthy’s symbolism; his portrayals of religion, of mysticism, and of violence; the question of the division between a “Western” and a “Southern” novel; and McCarthy’s depiction of character, as he portrays individuals caught up in situations for which they, never mind society, often have no good solution. Works discussed include The Orchard Keeper; The Crossing; No Country for Old Men; Blood Meridian; All The Pretty Horses; and The Road. Rounding out the volume are a chronology of McCarthy’s life and a list of his principle publications as well as a bibliography for readers seeking to study this fascinating author in greater depth.
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