Three Men in Outer Dark

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  • 31 Dec 2016 at 9:33 am #8739


    Apologies if this has already been discussed somewhere else. I finished Outer Dark recently and was reading up a few things on it. In the wikipedia for the novel, probably not the best source, it mentions that some recent essays have suggested that the three mysterious men who seem to follow Culla wherever he goes are projections, symbols or else a semi-physical manifestation of Culla’s own internal evil, rather than actual physical people.

    In the wikipedia entry there is a link to an article/review by Dan Geddes which discusses this interpretation briefly. I was wondering if anybody has any links or suggestions for articles to read that discuss the idea in any further detail?

    • This topic was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by  CarryTheFire.
    31 Dec 2016 at 1:29 pm #8742

    Richard L.

    Re: the triune in OUTER DARK…I was wondering if anybody has any links or suggestions for articles to read that discuss the idea in any further detail?

    There have been a number of good essays dealing with this, a lot of them to be found in the bound collections of essays you will find here in the bookstore, as well as at Amazon.

    With the benefit of having read most of the extant crit-lit, the three men seem to me to represent the three furies, represented in masculine rather than feminine form in Cullen’s subconscious. Whenever the three men appear, the text is offset into italics.

    The three men are the id, but also subdivided into id, the dumbest and most animal of the three, and the other two represent primitive ego and primitive superego. This is the exact schema as the dark three which appear in Joseph Conrad’s novel, VICTORY.

    These three, or their symbolic universals, also appear in a number of other novels published since, such as Austin Wright’s marvelous novel within a novel, TONY AND SUSAN (which by the way has its own Wikipedia page).

    There are a great many other literary allusions in these books as well, and parallels to the dawn of human consciousness in the fury myths and in the works of Sophocles. Thus the study of OUTER DARK and its critical literature is deep and very rewarding.

    Jay Ellis, in his book NO PLACE FOR HOME, draws the possible parallels with OUTER DARK and Cormac McCarthy’s own history with his first son whose name is Cullen. Among his other brilliant insights. You might want to take a look.

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