Mystic, minimalism and disaster borderline

Cormac McCarthy’s reputation as a writer of dark and violent fiction led his publishers to openly attribute his death to „natural causes”.

Generally, the Death of a famous writer It might be considered part of the natural cycle of things at age 89, but McCarthy’s gruesome murder plots and judicious discussion of suicide are often described in his latest novel. Stella MauricePerhaps Penguin Random House was inspired to emphasize that the author’s death occurred in a conventional manner, adorned with age and honors.

Given his tumultuous personal history with alcohol, divorce and financial crisis early in his career, such a completion is not an entirely safe bet. Nevertheless, McCarthy was a great American fiction writer, a complex and often controversial figure whose work is haunting.

Excessive use of language

Born Charles McCarthy into a wealthy Rhode Island Catholic family in 1933, McCarthy later adopted his pen name „Cormack” as a reminder of his Irish ancestry. He grew up in Tennessee, and his early novels, Guardian of the Orchard (1965), Outer darkness (1968) Y Sutree (1979), steeped in the humor of America’s Deep South.

Although these works were received with respect, they did not sell well, but they caught the eye of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature, Saul Bellow, who praised the „perfect use of language”.

After receiving a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, at Bellow’s recommendation, McCarthy traveled to Texas, New Mexico, and other parts of the American Southwest. It was there that he found his most enduring and distinctive voice.

His most popular books blood meridian (1985) and the Border Trilogy –All beautiful horses (1992), At the border (1994) Y Plain cities (1998)– characterized by representing issues of life and death in terms of violent cultural relations between the United States and Mexico. By reframing American history with the long shadow of its neighbors to the south, McCarthy presents a memorable counter-narrative to the more conventional rhetoric of faith long associated with American models of freedom and individualism.

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Road (2006), a grim work of apocalyptic disaster that won the following year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, captivated audiences by combining McCarthy’s usual doomsday scenes with specific concerns about the threat of climate change.

In McCarthy’s world, disaster is an orderly affair in which war and violence are primary realities. For centuries human behavior has been portrayed as fundamentally insensitive to change.

McCarthy at the film’s premiere Road In 2009.
Ivan Agostini/AP

Although McCarthy was generally adamant about his artistic beliefs, throughout his career he demonstrated a willingness to accommodate this gritty aesthetic within accessible genres and forms. His bloodthirsty police novel Old people have no country (2005), about a drug deal gone wrong, made into a movie by the Coen brothers.

Intellectual discovery

More recently, McCarthy has attempted to integrate complex scientific material into narrative forms, with the final result of a pair of companion novels published in the past year: travelerPrimarily set in New Orleans, and Stella Maurice, which takes place in a mental institution in Wisconsin. McCarthy’s concerns in these later works revolved around the diminishing of human capacities and the breakdown of liberal consciousness through nuclear science, surveillance systems, and coercion. Big data.

But he couches these serious concerns in often lighthearted and humorous language: even Secret Service executions and personal self-harm become the subject of self-deprecating humor. “Suffering is a part of the human condition that you have to put up with,” says one character traveler. „But suffering is a choice.”

McCarthy was never an easy writer, and her slanted, multidimensional novels have become less fashionable in the Facebook era, where the appeal of personal stories and the allure of authenticity have won out.

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McCarthy’s art, in contrast, was shaped by the minimalism and stylistic impersonation of classic modernist writers such as Ernest Hemingway, along with more abstract forms of humanism after discussions with his scientific friends at the Santa Fe Interdisciplinary Institute. His last years work. He gave few interviews and disdained the self-promotion that had become the norm in the advertising world. Marketing Literary.

Yet, albeit on a more subdued level, he retained some of the mystique surrounding the solitary or charismatic male writer so common in 20th-century American literature, from Hemingway to JD Salinger to Thomas Pynchon.

McCarthy has sometimes been criticized for her limited portrayals of female characters, and in this sense, along with many others, can be considered a classic writer of the American Western.

However, it would be a mistake to characterize McCarthy’s achievements as too restrictive. Although generally considered pessimistic, McCarthy’s texts explore the connections and tensions between white Protestant and Hispanic Catholic cultures in America in intellectually innovative ways. They draw intersections between humans and animals, social systems and the environment, and, most importantly, rationality and its shortcomings or limitations. ontological.

At the borderThe title of the second book in McCarthy’s frontier trilogy can in this sense be considered a summary of his work examining the points of connection and disjunction in the American cultural landscape.

His novels will last as long as American literature, but in this age of digital technology, McCarthy himself, with his sharp sense of humor, would have laughingly admitted that lifespan itself is an open question.

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