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Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  114,658 ratings  ·  10,313 reviews
Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into a ni ...more
Paperback, First Vintage International Edition, 351 pages
Published May 1992 by Vintage Books (first published April 28th 1985)
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Dustin Steinacker Two reasons I suspect:

First, he's got a personal philosophy/credo, and he punishes people who don't hold themselves to it (not unlike Chigurh from No …more
Two reasons I suspect:

First, he's got a personal philosophy/credo, and he punishes people who don't hold themselves to it (not unlike Chigurh from No Country for Old Men). In this case it's an unwavering commitment to war and bloodshed. He saw the kid as the sole member of the party who wavered in that commitment, or at least presented himself as having that perspective.

Second, remember all of that stuff about things existing only with his consent? He sketched an ancient piece of armor and then destroyed it, and later on sketched an old cave painting and then destroyed it. I think there's something he enjoys about being a witness of something and then removing it from existence. With he and the kid the last surviving members of Glanton's Gang I think he's pretty inclined to make everything that happened in that narrative a memory for him and him alone.(less)
Madison Santos I think it has to do with "The Arguments" that begin every Book of Paradise Lost, which if I remember correctly, Milton's editor asked him to include …moreI think it has to do with "The Arguments" that begin every Book of Paradise Lost, which if I remember correctly, Milton's editor asked him to include to make sure everyone understood what happened in the narrative of each Book. Blood Meridian is filled with thematic parallels and scene recreations of Paradise Lost. Could be some other formality I don't know about either, I think I've seen it in a few long poems and definitely in the newspaper briefings that start every chapter of The Lime Twig. (less)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  114,658 ratings  ·  10,313 reviews

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Start your review of Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
Aug 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, re-read-lit
The man finished the book. He closed the pages tightly together then put one foot on the floor then the other then used his hands to push himself up out of the chair and then put one foot in front of the other until he had walked all the way to the book shelf and then put the book on the book shelf. The deer walked in. The man whirled around and fired once with his pistol and the brains of the deer went flying out the back of its head and painted the wall a color dark red like blood. The man sat ...more
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: NOT the faint of heart
Shelves: blood-meridian
Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is unquestionably the most violent novel I’ve ever read. It’s also one of the best.

For those who would consider that a turn-off, I offer this caveat:
For the overwhelming majority of fiction that involves a lot of violence, the violence itself is an act of masturbation representing either the author’s dark impulse or, perhaps worse, pandering to the reader’s similar revenge fantasies (this might explain why the majority of Blood Meridian fans I know personally are

Spilled...emptied...wrung outsoul-ripped...that pretty accurately sums up my emotional composition after finishing this singular work of art. Ironically, I’m sure I only absorbed about 10% of the “message” McCarthy was conveying in this epic exposition on war, violence and man’s affinity for both. Still, even with my imperfect comprehension, I was shaken enough by the experience that, though I finished the book days ago, I’m just now at the point where I can revisit the jumble in my head en
Michael Finocchiaro
Breathless. Unique. Brutal. There are many words that could be used to describe Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. For me, this was my second time through and I liked it far better than my first reading. Judge Holden, John Job Glanton, Toadvine, and the "kid" are all fantastic characters. I shudder to think that the horrors visited upon the Indians and Mexicans and homesteaders were all based on fact. The apocalypse described in The Road is not too far a cry from the hellish country on the US-Me ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, mttbr-2012
This is Jane Austen antimatter.

Trying to convey how this was so different to anything I've ever read, it occurred to me that it was like a huge black vortex that would suck early nineteenth century marriage plot novels into the void. It's the complete obverse of sweet girlie stuff: no lurve, no irony (I wonder if Cormac McCarthy has a humour mode? If he does, he certainly wasn't in it writing this), no insightful self-discovery or examination of the human heart. No, this is bleak and bloody, go
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
After reading Blood Meridian, I may never view a western film the same way again.

To be certain, it is a masterpiece, a rare and unique work of literature that rises above classification and genre. And to be certain, McCarthy must be viewed as a great American writer, one of the greatest in our time.

That having been said, this book is not for everyone; it is painfully brutal, violent at it's heart. McCarthy's primitive writing style emphasizes this primal, bloody landscape like a Jonathon Edwar
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who want to believe in the inherent evil of mankind
Shelves: literature
There are two ways to evaluate a book, as far as my unlearned mind can concoct at the moment. Stylish literary flourishes sometimes cloud our judgment when it comes to evaluating the plot itself, which is, after all, the reason why the book exists.

This book is well written. If I'm a 11th grader, and I need to do a book report, I'm drooling over the blatant symbolism dripping from each page. The scene is set admirably, though the repetitive nature of our brave hero's wanderings (at least it's wit
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Cormac McCarthy's west of absolutes is a wonder to behold. Villainous attacks on people devoid a home, desecration of the westland, listings of all things in the majestic, transitory landscape like observations by Darwin at the Galapagos in lush (sometimes horrific) detail, murky human psyches, no dialogue, and especially that campfire philosophy by which anyone can find some sort of meaning in their modern lives (especially if you're fortunate enough to inhabit the places which Mr. McCarthy des ...more
Brutal and Poetic at the same time...Just changed it to a five star, what the h...... This book is monumental.
Seems like a contradiction, brutal and poetic, but somehow it works.
The story is bleak, dark, bloody but also filled with beautiful descriptions of the countryside, the desert, the people in the book. The colorful Judge is some character.
Tough book, not sure I took it all in and had to take some breaks during the read.... but hey, it's Cormac McCarthy...a grand writer he is.

It was ev
The wiki page for 'manifest destiny' has a picture of a painting by John Gast depicting an angelic figure (personification of America) purposefully drifting towards the west, her pristine white robes and blonde curls billowing in the breeze, a book nestled in the crook of her arm. Airborne, she awakens stretches of barren, craggy terrain to the magical touch of modernization. The landscapes she leaves behind are dotted by shipyards and railways and telegraph wires strung on poles but to her left ...more
J. Kent Messum
Quite possibly the most chilling and horrifying book ever written, 'Blood Meridian' is a unnerving glimpse of humanity at its worst during one of the most savage periods in American history. McCarthy pulls back the curtain to reveal the unforgivable evils and trespasses our species made all too often and all too easily in a new world, a novel that shows us the true price we paid in bodies and blood for the expansion of the 'Wild West'.

Unlike some of Cormac's other work, 'Blood Meridian' is not
Dan Schwent
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the old west, a young man falls in with a bad crowd, scalphunters, and the worst of them all, the judge.

It's not often when I can't figure out how to summarize a book. Not only does Blood Meridian fall into this category, I'm also struggling with trying to formulate my thoughts about it. I'm sure it's one of those big important books that has themes and things of that nature. It seems apocalyptic at times, with the judge showing the kid the horrors of the world, kind of like the devil and Jes
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”

Maybe the power of some books is just how horrible they make you feel.

It is said that McCarty's most beautiful and darkest prose occurs in this book. It is also said to be the most evil book written. It isn’t. I can name others, but you won’t want to hear them. What makes this book more evil than others is that you see all of the details of the killings in your mind’s eye. You were t
*Updated, now with an additional McCarthyized section of the Bible, moved up from the comment section.*

Here's what I'm thinkin.


Ever since reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I've been considering the possibilities of revisiting the classics and, um, reinterpreting them. Butchering? Yes, you're probably right. Butchering them. That's the right word.

Anyway, since Cormac McCarthy has the most distinctive and powerful voice of any modern writer (that I've read recent
Some people say that this is Cormac McCarthy's best work. I don't agree with that, even though I have to say that this is nothing less than an astonishing work of art.

This novel deals with the unrelenting brutality of the Glanton gang, an actual historical group of men who scalped and savaged Indians and Mexicans across the American Southwest in the mid 1800s. From the first page you feel like you've entered someone's nightmare. There's no place to hide here from the viciousness, the barrenness,
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
Sordid Origins

The myth of the American Southwest has it that it was the last uncivilised part of the North American continent. This was the frontier of hearty cowboys, stalwart settlers, and other pioneers who, despite the occasional gunfight at the OK Corral, gradually brought law and order, white Protestantism, and eventual prosperity to this benighted land. That huge area between the grassy plains of East Texas and Upper California was not just a place of adventure, it was also the scene of t
Paul Bryant
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Tried twice, failed twice. Cormac has a good track record with me – Child of God is a 5 star classic, No Country for Old Men is a 4 star classic, and All the Pretty Horses is a solid 3 star.

I knew Blood Meridian was the Big One. The Masterpiece. The one that fuses together The Bible and Clint Eastwood. The Kid with No Name and the Book of Deuteronomy. Years ago I got to the Tree of Dead Babies and jacked it in, I got a lot further this time, but yes, I jacked it in again. I tried reading it as
Frank Maccormack
Jun 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
This book has moments of fleeting brilliance, and the last 50 pages of the book are almost flawless. However, there are 280 pages before that you have to read, which consist of, in my opinion, nothing more than barren landscapes, borderline shock-value accounts of depravity, and self-indulgent simile. It's a never-ending journey on the shoulders of quite possibly the most unlikable group of characters I've ever read, which in the hands of a particular writer, may work...McCarthy does NOT pull it ...more
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification. Seen so, war is the truest form of divination. It is the testing of one’s will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god.
Set in the old West primarily in the 1850s, just after the Mexican-American War, Blood Meridian is objectively a grea
Fuck yeah. This is great. I felt fully absorbed and enclosed in the nightmare. I was scared. McCarthy at his very best commands some black and frightful reserves. To chose from so many scenes: Judge Holden under a ribcage parasol holding the halfwit by a leash, the two shuffling though the sun-bleached desert Golgotha bellowing threats and promises to Kid and Expriest who are hidden, cowering, “prone in the lees of those sour bones like sated scavengers” awaiting “the arrival of the judge and th ...more
That's so, said the judge. They do not have to have a reason. But order is not set aside because of their indifference.
Rugged individualism.

There's a whole unholy host of words one could use in reckoning with this, some more explicated than others. Penchants for ideological idiosyncrasies and survival have shaped mine; yours are your own. May the last speaker standing still breath.
Ye carry war of a madman's making onto a foreign land. Ye'll wake more than the dogs.
History, human, homicid
In David Foster Wallace's posthumous essay collection Both Flesh and Not there's a little piece called "Five Direly Underappreciated US Novels > 1960," and Wallace goes off on paragraph-long defenses of some books he likes - "Bleak but gorgeous," he says of Omensetter's Luck, "like light through ice." But when he gets to Blood Meridian there's just this one line under it:

"Dont even ask."

Unfortunately everyone did anyway and this book, where you can identify the good guys as the ones who haven't
Nov 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of westerns
In Cormac McCarthy's novel The Crossing, McCarthy proves he can write about about the travels of a wolf in a poetic and engaging way. In Blood Meridian McCarthy writes about three or four wolves, calls them humans - those characters he bothers to name at all - and shows that with enough talent and powerful prose, a writer and his work can be called "great" without having to develop a single character in 330 pages.

Among those who would be unsatisfied with the mere word "great" and have to go furt
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The picture that McCarthy paints of the west in the Mid 19th century is almost as savage, brutal, and violent that you will probably ever read. The fact that the narrative revolves around a group of militia scalp hunters only adds to the violence. However, for all the sadistic violence, while reading this novel, you have that feeling that you are reading literature at it’s very best. McCarthy’s writing drips with descriptiveness, the landscape he depicts so bleak and desolate that you as the rea ...more
Edward Lorn
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book has no quotation marks or serial commas.

If the above sentence made you clutch your breast and squeal in unabashed terror, you're gonna want to skip everything Cormac McCarthy writes. No use in aggravating yourself.

McCarthy is an author's author. While people who do not write could likely marvel at what he manages in this novel, I think those who love and study the craft of writing will receive the most bang for their buck while reading this. For fuck's sake, guys, they teach this boo
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*2nd read - even better this time around. A masterpiece of violent and poetic art.*

Here is my review for Blood Meridian on Grimdark Magazine. My first Cormac McCarthy review for the site!: Grimdark Magazine

Blood Meridian. This novel by Cormac McCarthy is a book that disturbed me to my core and made me dwell on the realities and philosophies within it. I have struggled to type what I actually think about it and have thus far failed to put into words my feelings around it. But I cannot stop thinki
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Western Fans; those who favor the language over that what it says
Blood Meridian is a novel that deromanticizes the West and strips off its John Wayne antics - here there's absolutely no place for the moral and the good, where murder is a fact of life comitted without a blink and discarded from thought later. The desert rewards the worst scoundrels and spits on the bodies of the innocent and old who are unable to defend themselves.

The novel begins with an introduction of a young teenager who's simply named "The Kid", though in fact there's no universal protago
Paquita Maria Sanchez
What a show-off. I swear, if you were to hand this book to an aspiring artist experiencing a depression-inducing creative block, you may just find yourself with a d.b. on your hands thanks to thoughts like "So wait, this was written by a human being and not an alien?" and "Fuck me!" and "Oh fuck it, I give up." While you'll hear no argument from me that The Road isn't a masterpiece, it is my firm conviction that this'n is even more masterpiece-ier, though far, far darker than The Road is even wi ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
After finishing McCarthy's No Country For Old Men and The Road, I felt like I was stunned for a day or so afterward. Add Blood Meridian to that list. At first, I thought this was going to be a Lonesome Dove-style western, but it's something far different. The descent into butchery by the Glanton gang in the desert is one of the most disturbing things I've read. And the Judge is now on my top 10 all-time fictional villian list. ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who hear “the barren desert wind cold and sterile and bearing news of nothing at all.”
Seductively dark, desolate, and violent, Blood Meridian speaks to you on a very primal level. On reading this a second time, I can definitely say that it’s one of my all-time favorites; a stark, bleak, brutal country I’ll be drawn to again and again.
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Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels in the Southern Gothic, western, and post-apocalyptic genres and has also written plays and screenplays. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for The Road, and his 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted as a 2007 film of the same name, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. His earlier Blood ...more

Articles featuring this book

The Great American Novel is something of a moving target. The term, used to describe a work of fiction that accurately shows the...
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“Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.” 655 likes
“The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.

The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man's mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.”
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