Comparative Essays on Hemingway and McCarthy – esp. The Road

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  • 26 Apr 2013 at 9:05 am #3342


    Re the quote above that begins “Once there were brook trout…”

    I went to see the Tom Cruise sic-fi film Oblivion the other day. It portrays in stark beauty a ruined earth. In it the Cruise character has a secret place he goes to, a cabin by the lake in the woods so to speak. A trout that appears in the lake calls unquestionably to mind, said quote.

    26 Apr 2013 at 10:37 am #3343



    Which Scribner anthology of Hemingway shorts contains “The Last Good Country”?  I looked for a pdf on the net and all I could find are articles summarizing and discussing it.  One article even mentioned that it was incomplete, not intended to be a short, and that is was most likely the beginning to a potential novel.  What can you tell me about any of this?

    How does it open up The Road?  I’ll head to Berkeley to find a copy of something containing it.  I find “style” to be a part of or a step toward “understanding” a story, so as much as I hear the McCarthy/Hemingway style discussion, I think there is just more to it.


    26 Apr 2013 at 11:50 am #3344

    26 Apr 2013 at 12:18 pm #3345




    Thanks.  I’ve seen a few of those copies bouncing around used bookshops and the now defunct Borders.  See what I can find this weekend.



    04 May 2013 at 10:20 am #3359


    Couldn’t find a new or used edition of Hemingway containing “The Last Good Country”, so I amazoned the complete short stories from Scribner, “The Finca Vigia Edition.”

    After reading “The Last Good Country” this morning for the first time, two thoughts hit me: Hemingway is warning against our Fed/state/local contemporary ecological institutions or programs, or the short story has nothing to do with The Road. I’ll think about this over the next few days and see if I can find some resolve.


    06 May 2013 at 4:43 pm #3372


    Mike: 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.

    The focus of last fall’s ALA symposium in New Orleans was connections between McCarthy and Hemingway. Allen Josephs has done a number of papers on McCarthy and “Big Two Hearted”; Brad McDuffie’s done some work with the Nick Adams stories and Cormac.

    06 May 2013 at 4:51 pm #3373



    If you have anything, papers or ideas, that you’d share I’d appreciate it. Is there a publication available for less than $60?

    Edit: As highly as I regard “The Last Good Country”, I don’t see the similarities between it and The Road. I’m going to need some convincing. As for “The Big Two-Hearted” country, I’m still standing on my claim as it being the Ur-Road.


    • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by  Mike. Reason: accidental omission
    29 May 2013 at 3:03 pm #3424


    A late addition to the conversation: came across this from my notes as I was reading through stuff tonight, by Robert Morgan (a fine writer himself), writing of COG:

    If this book resonates with any of the classic modernists it would be with Hemingway in the hard bare lyrical voice of his early stories, in the photographic accuracy of “Big Two-Hearted River” and “Up in Michigan,” and in the hard clinical objectivity of the narrator. The objectivity and poise of McCarthy’s writing, the care with which he avoids pretending to get into the minds of his characters, remind me of Papa’s early fiction again and again.

    Robert Morgan. Cormac McCarthy: the Novel Raised from the Dead In Wade Hall and Rick Wallach. Sacred Violence Volume 1: Cormac McCarthy’s Appalachian Work. Second edition. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 2002, pp. 9-21, p. 19

    19 Jun 2013 at 12:06 am #3505


    While fishing (apposite word) around the internet for stuff on the poet Wendell Berry, I came across this poem by him. It made me think of the end paragraph of The Road in a way that goes beyond Hemingway to arrive at the kind of radical ecopastoralism that Guillemin sees in McCarthy: the unseeable animal surely means the ‘unknowable’ animal.The quote from Robert Creely also seems to chime with the sense of mystery that McCarthy wants us to consider:

    To the Unseeable Animal

    My Daughter: “I hope there’s an animal
    Somewhere that nobody has ever seen.
    And I hope nobody ever sees it.”

    Being, whose flesh dissolves
    at our glance, knower
    of the secret sums and measures,
    you are always here,
    dwelling in the oldest sycamores,
    visiting the faithful springs
    when they are dark and the foxes
    have crept to their edges.
    I have come upon pools
    in streams, places overgrown
    with the woods’ shadow,
    where I knew you had rested,
    watching the little fish
    hang still in the flow;
    as I approached they seemed
    particles of your clear mind
    disappearing among the rocks.
    I have waked deep in the woods
    in the early morning, sure
    that while I slept
    your gaze passed over me.
    That we do not know you
    is your perfection
    and our hope. The darkness
    keeps us near you.

    Wendell Berry


    I did however used to think, you know,
    in the woods walking,
    and as a kid playing in the woods,
    that there was a kind of immanence there –
    that woods, and places of that order,
    had a sense, a kind of presence, that you could feel;
    that there was something peculiarly, physically present,
    a feeling of place almost conscious … like God.
    It evoked that.
    – Robert Creely

    19 Jun 2013 at 12:12 am #3506


    Moreover –

    The Creely quote sends me scurrying back to those lovely woodland evocations in THe Orchard Keeper and Child of God.

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