The Orchard Keeper

This topic contains 16 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  dfiel1 1 year, 6 months ago.

Viewing 7 posts - 11 through 17 (of 17 total)
  • Author
    Posts Mark Topic Read  | 
  • 28 Mar 2013 at 2:17 pm #3250


    I am new to this forum, I found it while searching for more info on the Orchard keeper. I agree with Ken, The Orchard Keeper is my favorite of Cormac Mccarthy’s books and I feel is not given the credit due. Such a beautiful book and I have read it many times it never fails to enchant. I do love his Appalachian books. I’m guessing the is my 5th or 6th reading of The Orchard keeper. Uncle Ather is very dear to my heart. One of Cormacs truely just charecters.

    I became aware of Cormac Mccarthy when first reading The Crossing years ago and soon read all the novels he had written at that time and followed him since. I have had trouble reading play’s and therefore have not ventured into the plays he has written.

    Its interesting how the owl and cat scene is mentioned in  the forum, i recently reread the Orchard Keeper and that scene of the store keeper hearing the yowl in the air above him has stuck with me.

    Anyhow delighted to find this forum.

    01 Jun 2015 at 7:16 am #7175


    kenb wrote: “I agree with Ken, The Orchard Keeper is my favorite of Cormac Mccarthy’s books and I feel is not given the credit due. Such a beautiful book and I have read it many times it never fails to enchant.”

    Maybe it has something to do with our names being “Ken”! Kenneth Rattner is the first archvillain in McCarthy’s first novel and the first major character to appear in the novel. The novel could also be said to be about him, hence he could be regarded the novel’s antihero: The novel begins with his last few hours alive and ends with his physical and spiritual transmigration from this world and the immediate aftermath. The stories of the other main characters’ lives revolve around Kenneth: Marion Sylder’s murder of Rattner and subsequent father figure to Rattner’s son; Ather Ownby’s discovery of Rattner’s body and sense of duty to honor it with rituals for seven years; Mildred Rattner’s unwavering love and pride for her husband and admonition to their son to seek revenge for his murder; John Wesley’s relationships with each of these people affected by his missing father.


    50 years ago today, June 1, 1965, The Orchard Keeper was published.

    01 Jun 2015 at 5:22 pm #7177


    Fifty years ago yesterday, May 30, 1965, Wilma Dykeman (Mrs. James R. Stokely) wrote a review of The Orchard Keeper for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. At the time I was looking for a present to buy my mother for her birthday, and after reading Dykeman’s review, decided to walk downtown to the bookstore in Miller’s and buy the book for her perhaps to give her a feel for the place to which I had moved to continue my studies. I brought the book back to my apartment, but before I wrapped the present and mailed it off I read it quickly being mindful of the dustjacket and the binding. From that moment on I’ve been hooked. I told a slightly more detailed story of these events to Peter Josyph which he was kind enough to repeat in his book, Cormac McCarthy’s House: Reading McCarthy Without Walls (p. 37).

    Perhaps it was the last paragraph in Dykeman’s review that captured my attention and set me off to the bookstore. “This is an impressive performance. Mr. McCarthy probably has two alternatives open to him now: He may become a coterie writer, refining his keen and original sensibilities into ever more elegant and abstruse prose; or he may become a richly endowed observer of the human scene with much to tell us about ourselves” (p. F-2).

    01 Jun 2015 at 7:07 pm #7178

    Rick Wallach

    kenb: welcome to the forum and we hope you feel your time spent here is well spent.

    Just a quick note to let you know that the Cormac McCarthy Society’s 2015 conference will have as its theme the fiftieth anniversary of The Orchard Keeper. We hope you’ll check out the conference information on the homepage and conference pages of this web site and consider joining us.

    01 Jun 2015 at 9:27 pm #7187


    Wonderful story, Wes.

    Happy 50th Anniversary, TOK!

    30 Jan 2016 at 3:46 am #8103

    Greg S.

    Fifty years later … today’s (30Jan16) Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) has an excellent article on the occasion of the first translation into German of The Orchard Keeper [Der Feldhüter]. The article by Jan Wiele not only conveys McCarthy’s mastery, revealing a journalist who has read McCarthy’s work and understands it, it also gives high praise to the tranlator, Nikolaus Stingl. The FAZ is hard to access online without a subscription. The article appears in the Feuilleton, page 12.

    Here is a link to the Rowohlt web page for the novel. Maybe the article will appear soon.

    And here is a link to a review at the Süddeutsche Zeitung that came out a few days ago.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  Greg S..
    10 Jul 2016 at 12:47 am #8429


    Like many on this part of the forum I love this book of CMs the most.
    I feel in the Orchard Keeper his message is simple- like many, CM wonders about the ancients, the prophets
    What were they like ? isn’t it sad they are gone ? why does the world seem so ordinary now when it wasn’t then?
    So like the great artist he is he brings them back to life, complete with their struggles

    Everything is old, Pleistocene, fossilized, the ancients are still with us
    The destruction of the hotel is Armageddon complete with a hellish pit beneath
    Eden the orchard is ruined by the body of the murdered Able, discovered by the 2 innocent children adam and eve
    Cain is unrepentant and continues to disgrace the eden with his comings and goings
    He is also Jonah like as he leans into his car bonnet being swallowed by the benevolent monster

    Ownby the orchard keeper is somewhat like a druid or mystic in his appearance but as far as the narrative goes I see him like Moses
    He sits out the plagues ( the flood, the snow, a toad!,locusts appear…); the flood is very prominent so he is Noah-like too, with the kingfisher/dove signaling the end of the flood
    But above all he fights Pharaoh with his shotgun and makes a run for it, ending the long passage on the mountain top looking over the arc of the world, communing with god
    The only bible quote is from exodus

    The boy is innocent like Isaac or Joseph, and devoted to his ‘fathers’ Sylder( ironically) and Ownby
    The wine ownby shares with him and his friend is sacramental- the boy has been spared, even one so ordinary is made special

    Everything does pass- the time, the people, the fun, which is sad
    But the artist in CM revives it and keeps the myths of the ancients real- the past is with us- so alive!
    I see it as his happiest and most optimistic book
    in the above sense it is also very programatic. he wrote what he knew as a young man- the woods and the old testament

    (Btw the orchard keeper appears in the last paragraphs of The Road doesn’t he ?- the woodsman- god-like, protective
    Which I shudder to think means CM has come full cycle
    So much of every one of his novels is in this very first of his books- For example The collapse of the hotel is especially like the wind blowing away the preachers tent at the beginning of Blood Meridian

    Just my random thoughts which I hope you find interesting

Viewing 7 posts - 11 through 17 (of 17 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.