This is an investigation into the aesthetic and philosophical ends of McCarthy's southern novels. "Reading the World" explores the historical and philosophical contexts of Cormac McCarthy's early works crafted during his Tennessee period from 1959 to 1979 to demonstrate how McCarthy integrates literary realism with the imagery and myths of Platonic, gnostic, and existentialist philosophies to create his unique vision of the world. Dianne C. Luce begins with a substantial treatment of the East Tennessee context from which McCarthy's fiction emerges, sketching an Appalachian culture and environment in flux. Then Luce examines McCarthy's distinctive rendering of character and shows how his fragmented narration and lyrical style create a rich portrayal of the philosophical and religious elements at play as human consciousness confronts a world rife with isolation and violence. As she explores the developing gnosticism in "Outer Dark" and "Child of God", Luce notes the introduction of Platonic myths and symbols, creating dialogic tensions.
She finds McCarthy blending these elements with the neo-gnosticism of Camus' existentialism in "The Gardener's Son", and she concludes by illustrating how McCarthy's ambitious "Suttree" is a culmination of the Tennessee period as she unravels the novel's complexly interwoven texture of philosophical and mythic strains introduced in earlier works.
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press