NYT on Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses

April 30, 2009



Author Cormac McCarthy

Author Cormac McCarthy

1. What authors or genres of writing are cited as influencing McCarthy’s writing style?

 In the article, he mentions Faulkner the most, so I think Faulkner is his most looked up to writer. Faulkner is often recognized as the greatest American writer in American history, so maybe McCarthy wants to be in his level of writing. There was one quote that stood out. The quote says, “Cormac McCarthy has practiced the Joycean virtues of silence, exile and cunning more faithfully thatn any other contemporary author.” This basically says that he is a independent writer that does not get influenced by any other writer of his time.

2. How does McCarthy treat human characters in his story as opposed to landscape and animals like horses?

 In the first part of All the Pretty Horses, McCarthy dedicated one whole book to write about the background and the setting of the story. This is how important landscape and setting is to McCarthy. He writes endlessly about the landscape and also he talks a lot about the horses. The horses are an essential theme to the book and this shows how important these themes are compared to the human characters. Human characters are not that important  in his books and they are just figures to drive the plot of the story.

3. What type of dialogue does the article state McCarthy uses?

 The article says that his dialogue is long, descriptive, and realistic. He has a “deadly ear” for appropriate prose. He uses inaccurate punctuation and spelling to portray a realistic dialogue. However, after reading All the Pretty Horses, I don’t agree with the part saying his dialogue is long. I thought that his dialogue was very short and abrupt and non descriptive. I agree that it was realistic, using Spanish words and short sentences because the characters were not educated that well.

4. What is notable about his diction (word choice)?

McCarthy uses words out of the norm. Sometimes, he makes up his own words. These are called neologisms. In the article it says that he has a developed sense of wording from the history of English writing, “His diction and phrasing come from all over the evolutionary history of English and combine into a prose that seems to invent itself as it unfolds, resembling Elizabethan language in its flux of remarkable possibilities.”


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