The American Novel Since 1945

Yale Course , Spring 2008 , Prof. Amy Hungerford

100 students enrolled

Overview

Introductions - Richard Wright, Black Boy - Flannery OConnor, Wise Blood - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita - Guest Lecture by Andrew Goldstone - Jack Kerouac, On the Road - J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey - John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse - Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 - Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye - Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior - Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping - Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian - Philip Roth, The Human Stain - Edward P. Jones, The Known World - Students Choice Novel: Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

Lecture 18: Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (cont.) I

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        Lecture Details

        In this second lecture on Blood Meridian, Professor Hungerford builds a wide-ranging argument about the status of good and evil in the novel from a small detail, the Bible the protagonist carries with him in spite of his illiteracy. This detail is one of many in the text that continually lure us to see the kid in the light of a traditional hero, superior to his surroundings, developing his responses in a familiar narrative structure of growth. McCarthys real talent, and his real challenge, Hungerford argues, is in fact to have invoked the moral weight of his sources—biblical, literary, and historical—while emptying them of moral content. Much as the kid holds the Bible an object and not a spiritual guide, McCarthy seizes the material of language—its sound, its cadences—for ambiguous, if ambitious, ends.

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