Cormac McCarthy

American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter

Cormac McCarthy (born Charles Joseph McCarthy Jr.; July 20, 1933) is an American novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and screenwriter. He has written ten novels, spanning the Southern Gothic, Western, and modernist genres.

Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy in 1968
See also:
Suttree
All the Pretty Horses
The Road
No Country for Old Men (film)
No Country for Old Men
Blood Meridian

QuotesEdit

  • There's no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.
  • I'm not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.
  • I don't think goodness is something that you learn. If you're left adrift in the world to learn goodness from it, you would be in trouble.

The Orchard Keeper (1965)Edit

  • Yes, he said. I busted him and he busted me. That's fair, ain't it?
    The boy was still silent, calmly incredulous.
    No, Sylder went on, I ain't forgettin about jail. You think because he arrested me that throws it off again I reckon? I don't. It's his job. It's what he gets paid for. To arrest people that break the law. And I didn't jest break the law, I made a livin at it.

Outer Dark (1968)Edit

  • The man sat watching the road, the weedstem twirling in his mouth and the threadthin shadow of it going long and short upon his face like a sundial's hand beneath a sun berserk.
  • And as he lay there a far crack of lightning went bluely down the sky and bequeathed him in an embryonic bird's first fissured vision of the world and transpiring instant and outrageous from dark to dark a final view of the grotto and the shapeless white plasm struggling upon the rich and incunabular moss like a lank swamp hare.
  • Don't take in no strangers while I'm gone.
    She sighed deeply. They ain't a soul in this world but what is a stranger to me, she said.
  • Yes mam. I'm sorry you've had such troubles.
    Mm-hmm. Sorry. Don’t need sorry. Not in this house. Sorry laid the hearth here. Sorry ways and sorry people and heavensent grief and heartache to make you pine for your death.
  • And she waited again at the front door with it open, poised between the maw of the dead and loveless house and the outer dark like a frail thief.
  • What discordant vespers do the tinker's goods chime through the long twilight and over the brindled forest road, him stooped and hounded through the windy recrements of the day like those old exiles who divorced of corporeality and enjoined ingress of heaven or hell wander forever the middle warrens spoorless increate and anathema.
  • Now the entire herd had begun to wheel wider and faster along the bluff and the outermost ranks swung centrifugally over the escarpment row on row wailing and squealing and above this the howls and curses of the drovers that now upreared in the moil of flesh they tended and swept with dust had begun to assume satanic looks with their staves and wild eyes as if they were no true swineheards but disciples of darkness got among these charges to herd them to their doom.
  • Don't flang him off the bluff, boys. Tain't christian.
  • I've seen the meanness of humans till I dont know why God aint put out the sun and gone away.

Child of God (1973)Edit

  • It's like a lot of things, said the smith. Do the least part of it wrong and ye'd just as well to do it all wrong. (p.71)
  • Given charge Ballard would have made things more orderly in the woods and in men's souls. (p.128)
  • In the spring or warmer weather when the snow thaws in the woods the tracks of winter reappear on slender pedestals and the snow reveals in palimpsest old buried wanderings, struggles, scenes of death. Tales of winter brought to light again like time turned back upon itself. (p.130)
  • He could not swim, but how would you drown him? His wrath seemed to buoy him up. Some halt in the way of things seems to work here. See him. You could say that he is sustained by his fellow men, like you. Has peopled the shore with them calling to him. A race that gives suck to the maimed and the crazed, that wants their blood in history and will have it. But they want this man's life. He has heard them in the night seeking him with lanterns and cries of execration. How then is he borne up? Or rather, why will not these waters take him? (p.147)
  • Whatever voice spoke to him was no demon but some old shed self that came yet from time to time in the name of sanity, a hand to gentle him back from the rim of his disastrous wrath. (p.149)
  • You think people was meaner then than they are now? the deputy said.
    The old man was looking out at the flooded town. No, he said, I don't. I think people are the same from the day God first made one. (p.158)
  • He dreamt that night that he rode through the woods on a low ridge. Below him he could see deer in a meadow where the sun fell on the grass. The grass was still wet and the deer stood in it to their elbows. He could feel the spine of the mule rolling under him and he gripped the mule's barrel with his legs. Each leaf that brushed his face deepened his sadness and dread. Each leaf he passed, he'd never pass again. They rode over his face like veils, already some yellow, their veins slender like bones where the sun shone through them. He had resolved himself to ride on for he could not turn back and the world that day was as lovely as any day ever was and he was riding to his death. (p.162)

The Crossing (1994)Edit

  • If you could breathe a breath so strong you could blow out the wolf. Like you blow out the copo. Like you blow out the fire from the candela. The wolf is made the way the world is made. You cannot touch the world. You cannot hold it in your hand for it is made of breath only.
  • The road has its own reasons and no two travelers will have the same understanding of those reasons. If indeed they come to an understanding of them at all.
  • When he looked back at the primadonna she was watching them through the spyglasses. As if she might better assess them in that way where they set forth upon the shadowbanded road, the coming twilight. Inhabiting only that ocular ground in which the country appeared out of nothing and vanished again into nothing, tree and rock and the darkening mountains beyond, all of it contained and itself containing only what was needed and nothing more.
  • We think we are the victims of time. In reality, the way of the world isn't fixed anywhere. How could that be possible? We are our own journey. And therefore we are time as well. We are the same. Fugitive. Inscrutable. Ruthless.
  • Billy asked him if such men as had stole his eyes were only products of the war but the blind man said that since war itself was their very doing that could hardly be the case.
  • Your brother is still young enough to believe that the past still exists, he said. That the injustices within it await his remedy.
  • You do not know what things you set in motion, he said. No man can know. No prophet foresee. The consequences of an act are often quite different from what one would guess. You must be sure that the intention in your heart is large enough to contain all wrong turnings, all disappointments. Do you see? Not everything has such value.
  • He said that while one would like to say that God will punish those who do such things and that people often speak in just this way it was his experience that God could not be spoken for and that men with wicked histories often enjoyed lives of comfort and that they died in peace and were buried with honor. He said that it was a mistake to expect too much of justice in this world. He said that the notion that evil is seldom rewarded was greatly overspoken for if there were no advantage to it then men would shun it and how could virtue then be attached to its repudiation?
  • He said the wicked know that if the ill they do be of sufficient horror men will not speak against it. That men have just enough stomach for small evils and only these will they oppose. He said that true evil has power to sober the smalldoer against his own deeds and in the contemplation of that evil he may even find the path of righteousness which has been foreign to his feet and may have no power but to go upon it. Even this man may be appalled at what is revealed to him and seek some order to stand against it. Yet in all of this there are two things which perhaps he will not know. He will not know that while the order which the righteous seek is never righteousness itself but is only order, the disorder of evil is in fact the thing itself. Nor will he know that while the righteous are hampered at every turn by their ignorance of evil to the evil all is plain, light and dark alike. This man of which we speak will seek to impose order and lineage upon things which rightly have none. He will call upon the world itself to testify as to the truth of what are in fact but his desires. In his final incarnation he may seek to indemnify his words with blood for by now he will have discovered that words pale and lose their savor while pain is always new.
  • The world has no name, he said. The names of the cerros and the sierras and the deserts exist only on maps. We name them so that we do not lose our way. Yet it was because the way was lost to us already that we have made those names. The world cannot be lost. We are the ones. And it is because these names and these coordinates are our own naming that they cannot save us. That they cannot find for us the way again.
  • He said that both views were one view and that while men may meet with death in strange and obscure places which they might well have avoided it was more correct to say that no matter how hidden or crooked the path to their destruction yet they would seek it out. He smiled. He spoke as one who seemed to understand that death was the condition of existence and life but an emanation thereof.
  • If people knew the story of their lives how many would then elect to live them?
  • In the night as he slept Boyd came to him and squatted by the deep embers of the fire as he'd done times by the hundreds and smiled his soft smile that was not quite cynical and he took off his hat and held it before him and looked down into it. In the dream he knew that Boyd was dead and that the subject of his being so must be approached with a certain caution for that which was circumspect in life must be doubly so in death and he'd no way to know what word or gesture might subtract him back again into that nothingness out of which he'd come. When finally he did ask him what it was like to be dead Boyd only smiled and looked away and would not answer. They spoke of other things and he tried not to wake from the dream but the ghost dimmed and faded and he woke and lay looking up at the stars through the bramblework of the treelimbs and he tried to think of what that place could be where Boyd was but Boyd was dead and wasted in his bones wrapped in the soogan upriver in the trees and he turned his face to the ground and wept.

Cities of the Plain (1998)Edit

  • The martyr who longs for the flames can be no right candidate for them.
  • The man smiled at him a sly smile. As if they knew a secret between them, these two. Something of age and youth and their claims and the justice of those claims. And of their claims upon them. The world past, the world to come. Their common transciencies. Above all a knowing deep in the bone that beauty and loss are one.
  • Our waking life's desire to shape the world to our convenience invites all manner of paradox and difficulty.

The Sunset Limited (2006)Edit

  • Black: Belief aint like unbelief. If you a believer then you got to come finally to a well of belief itself and then you dont have to look no further. There aint no further. But the unbeliever has got a problem. He has set out to unravel the world, but everthing he can point to that aint true leaves two new things layin there. If God walked the earth when he got done makin it then when you get up in the mornin' you get to put your feet on a real floor and you dont have to worry about where it come from. But if he didnt then you got to come up with a whole other description of what you even mean by real. And you got to judge everything by that same light. If light is is. Includin yourself. One question fits all.
  • White: I long for Darkness. I pray for death, real death. And if I thought that in death I would meet the people I knew in life, I don't know what I would do. That would be the ultimate horror, the ultimate nightmare. If I thought I was gonna meet my mother again an' start all of that over, only this time without the prospect of death to look forward to... that would be the final nightmare. Goddamn Kafka on wheels.
  • White: You give up the world line by line. Stoically. And then one day you realize that your courage is farcical. It doesnt mean anything. You've become an accomplice in your own annihilation and there is nothing you can do about it. Everything you do closes a door somewhere ahead of you. And finally there is only one door left.

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