Comparative Essays on Hemingway and McCarthy – esp. The Road

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  • 24 Apr 2013 at 2:08 am #3327

    cantona
    Member

    I’ve just finished a chapter on The Road ( and, yippee, it is also the last chapter in my diss) where I spend a few pages looking at the similarities between the Nick Adams stories and The Road. Now I know I’m not the only one who’s spotted this, so need some help with names and publications. Could someone point me in the direction of any essays covering this idea? It would be much appreciated.


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    • This topic was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  cantona.
    24 Apr 2013 at 12:00 pm #3331

    Mike
    Member

    cantona,

    I’ve had many thoughts on the issue: similarities shared between”The Big Two-Hearted River” and The Road, unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a thing.  If you have anything listed in your bibliography, please, let me know.

    Mike


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    25 Apr 2013 at 2:03 am #3334

    cantona
    Member

    Mike,

    Thanks for responding. I posted a similar question last year on the What are you Reading thread and Peter/Glass said that renowned Hemingway scholar Allen Josephs had written some interesting stuff on the McCarthy/Hemingway nexus. However, I’ve just checked out Josephs’ CV on-line and was unable to find any relevant stuff. On the same thread, Richard mentioned that he himself had written some stuff about Hemingway and McCarthy on his blog. Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be much out there at the moment.


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    25 Apr 2013 at 2:03 am #3333

    cantona
    Member

    Mike,

    Thanks for responding. I posted a similar question last year on the What are you Reading thread and Peter/Glass said that renowned Hemingway scholar Allen Josephs had written some interesting stuff on the McCarthy/Hemingway nexus. However, I’ve just checked out Josephs’ CV on-line and was unable to find any relevant stuff. On the same thread, Richard mentioned that he himself had written some stuff about Hemingway and McCarthy on his blog. Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be much out there at the moment.


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    25 Apr 2013 at 10:48 am #3335

    Mike
    Member

    cantona,

    I think quite highly of both the Nick Adams stories and The Road, however, I’ve never noticed all-out  similarities between the prior and the latter.  With that being said, “The Big Two-Hearted River” is The Ur-Road, as Harold Bloom would say.  From the very start we are bereft of any clues as to what is responsible for charring the land-scape.  Man, acclimated and then removed from modern modes of living, must start anew or more specifically “rise from the ashes” of the death of his own past, like a Phoenix.  From surface to the deepest levels, man must re-acclimate himself to what appears to him at first is a new nature.

    Mike


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    25 Apr 2013 at 10:50 am #3336

    Richard L.
    Member

    Re:  “On the same thread, Richard mentioned that he himself had written some stuff about Hemingway and McCarthy on his blog.”

    No, as I recall, the conversation was this:

    Has anyone ever pointed out the connection between “Big Two-Hearted River” and The Road?

    And I said, yes, many have mentioned it.  I mentioned it in my pre-publication review of The Road at Amazon, which is the first or second review there, and before that I think it was noted in a first-reading thread here, perhaps by Chip Arnold and Rick Wallach, both of whom read it before I did.

    I wasn’t trying to claim credit or wanting to be cited; I was merely affirming that others here saw it too.  I don’t think it was elaborated upon, other than to reflect on the ecological irony between Nick Adams leaving while there was still trout in the stream and the ending of The Road.  If you’re thinking of writing essays, there is nothing from that time that needs citing, certainly nothing I’ve ever written.

    Jay Ellis pointed out the climb from complete alienation of fatherhood that appears in McCarthy’s work toward greater and greater reconciliation.  Thus he predicted the relationship between father and son that would appear in The Road, but his book predates any reading of that novel.  In No Place For Home, he discusses the mutual problems that both Hemingway and McCarthy had with women/women characters.  Men will be men, and women will be gone, as Nell Sullivan said in the title of her earlier essay.

    I think it was Ken who appended that with reference to the wife’s suicide in The Road, by saying that Men will be men, and women will be Antigone.

    [edit]  Actually, the title of Nell Sullivan’s essay was “Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Gone:  The Circuit of Male Desire in Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy,” The Southern Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3, Spring 2000, 167-185.  Of course, she’s published other essays touching on the subject.  See the on-site McCarthy bibliography.


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    25 Apr 2013 at 11:12 am #3337

    Ken
    Member

    Men will be men, and women will be Antigone.

    What a great play on words on Nell’s essay title, though a pun only McCarthy litcrit readers would get, a limited audience indeed. However, I don’t think I was the one who said it, or at least I don’t remember, but if I did say it, then I just complimented myself on my great wordplay. I did bring up Antigone a few times, but in connection with Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, novel and movie. For a time, maybe a decade(!) or so ago, I misremembered Nell’s quote as “Boys will be boys, and girls will be dead“. So, I would more likely have said “Boys will be boys, and girls will be Daedalus” if the occasion ever arose.

    Anyway, back to Hemingway…


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    25 Apr 2013 at 1:33 pm #3338

    Richard L.
    Member

    And of course many have noted the Hemingwayesque turn that McCarthy’s style took in the Border Trilogy after the Faulknerian style of his early work.  Funny that I cannot recall a single essay about that transition, as obvious as it is.  I think it is the first two sections of the id-ego-superego trinity, and that there is a trilogy of McCarthy styles, Faulkner/Hemingway/Beckett.  Also, past/present/future.  Also, body/mind/spirit.  Also, child/man/elder hermit where the child is the father of the man.  The universal trinity as detailed by Emerson, but as originally set out by Aristotle as the three stages of life.

    Anyway, thanks to Google alert, there is today this from The Guardian’s George Mombiot:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/25/trout-river-restock-reconnect-children

    Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road, which I still believe is the greatest environmental work ever written, ends with the shock and beauty that runs through so much of the book:

    “Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not to be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

    The trout are a cipher for all that has gone, in this novel about a world that has lost its biosphere. I think I know why McCarthy chooses to invest them with this role: in a way that is hard to explain, trout seem to be more alive than most other animals.

    Perhaps it has something to do with their flickering changes of mood – extreme caution, then bold display, skulking in the shadows, then splashing on the surface of the river, sometimes leaping clear of the water – their great speed, their extraordinary beauty, their ability to disappear then flash back into sight, their remarkable range of colour and pattern and shape. And the presence of trout means that other things are alive: they cannot survive and breed without clean, clear water, clean gravel beds and an abundant supply of insect life.

    ______

    Also, from Jennifer Szalai in today’s New Yorker, there is this lovely take on McCarthy, Oprah, and The Road:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/04/oprahs-book-club-mccarthy-franzen-television.html


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    25 Apr 2013 at 4:48 pm #3339

    Glass
    Member

    Jim, I heard Josephs give that paper in the fall of 2011 at a non-formal get-together of McCarthy scholars in Austin, Texas, where the academics were in town for a Wittliff Collections fund-raiser. Rick got me a seat at the table so that was cool and I even got to chat for a few minutes with Sam Shepard. Anyway, I recall the papers fell under the rubric of works in progress and current interests of those presenting. I remember that Joseph’s paper centered on the similarities in voice between Hemingway and McCarthy, and how McCarthy’s style/voice has evolved over time. Something pretty close to that. It was a great paper and created a nice buzz among the attendees, and there was an excellent discussion following his talk. I was going to ask him about that paper when I saw him at the recent Horses conference, but I ended up asking him some questions about Goya instead. Your dissertation sounds fascinating. Good luck here on the homestretch.


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    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  Glass.
    26 Apr 2013 at 4:42 am #3341

    cantona
    Member

    Richard,

    I’m very sorry for misremembering your original response to my original question. Still, the good thing is that it prompted you to say some very illuminating things about The Road and McCarthy in general. My mistake, the forum’s gain.

    Mike, I agree with the importance of The Big Two-Hearted River; but I also think the story ‘The Last Good Country’ is worth looking at, especially for the last paragraph in The Road.

    Peter, Thanks for clarifying the Josephs issue – and for your kind words.

     


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