He seemed much satisfied with the world

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  • 17 Jul 2016 at 6:22 pm #8458

    Glass
    Member

    I think McCarthy possibly is making an allusion to a famous quote by Alfonso X, “the Wise,” of Castile with the following from Blood Meridian (140) when the judge is sitting by the fire just prior to regaling the gang with the harnessmaker tale.

    Then he sat with his hands cupped in his lap and he seemed much satisfied with the world, as if his counsel had been sought at its creation.

    Certainly recalls this quote from Alfonso X:

    Had I been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the Universe.

    This likely connection has been made at least once before as I found out while researching the two similar quotes. Please see The Frailty of Everything by Isak Winkel Holm in the book The Cultural Life of Catastrophe and Crises (239). The author discusses the Alfonso quote in relation to theodicy in McCarthy, citing the quote above from BM, among others, to help make his argument.

    I ran across the “present at the creation” quote in an epigraph from a new book I am reading about Silicon Valley called Chaos Monkeys and it reminded me immediately of Judge Holden.


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    30 Aug 2016 at 9:15 pm #8534

    Glass
    Member

    Another correspondence to the Alfonso X quote came to mind (in fragment form) today, and which I was able to find with a bit of Googling by kind of knowing some key words from the sentence:

    “Given charge Ballard would have made things more orderly in the woods and in men’s souls.” (COG 136)

    And one more with a twist given that the (pre-apocalyptic) world is described as fine as is:

    “…and he said if he were god he would have made the world just so and no different.” (The Road)


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    30 Aug 2016 at 11:56 pm #8535

    kate
    Member

    While the original phrasing is possibly attributable to Alfonso X, I think there is a more likely connection to a famous Melville quote about Emerson:

    “I could readily see in Emerson, notwithstanding his merit, a gaping flaw. It was the insinuation that had he lived in those days when the world was made, he might have offered some valuable suggestions. These men are all cracked right across the brow. And never will the pullers-down be able to cope with builders-up … But enough of this Plato who talks thro’ his nose.”

    It’s found in a letter Melville wrote to Evert Duyckinck. Since so much of Blood Meridian taps into the same vein of critique on American exceptionalism, it’s fitting to associate this observation Melville makes of Emerson with a description of the judge.


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    31 Aug 2016 at 11:48 am #8544

    Glass
    Member

    That is so nice. Thank you for that, Kate.


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