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Origines et figures du mal

“But lo the thing’s inside and can you guess his shape?”: the semiotic elaboration of Cormac McCarthy’s autotextual creature in his early novels and No Country for Old Men

« But lo the thing’s inside and can you guess his shape? » : l’élaboration sémiotique de la créature autotextuelle de Cormac McCarthy dans ses premiers romans et No Country for Old Men
Yvonne-Marie Rogez

Résumés

« But lo the thing’s inside and can you guess his shape? » Dans l’introduction à Suttree, le narrateur avertit le lecteur de l’horreur à venir et lui indique que la place de la « chose » est à l’intérieur. La question de sa forme et de sa représentation envahit l’œuvre de Cormac McCarthy. Ce travail propose d’explorer le signifié associé à la résurgence de signifiants apparemment ‘vides’ dans les cinq premiers romans de l’auteur ainsi que dans No Country for Old Men. L’impossible représentation sémiotique de cette créature, associée à l’excès de signifié utilisé pour l’écrire et la décrire qui est caractéristique de l’écriture de l’auteur, révèlent une véritable construction autotextuelle qui est la création la plus intéressante et la plus sous-estimée de Cormac McCarthy. Elle semble fonctionner à travers la création de doubles qui donnent forme aux monstres qui habitent les personnages principaux, le premier « couple » étant celui formé par Kenneth Rattner et Marion Sylder, le dernier celui de Moss et Chigurh. Le double menaçant agit toujours tel le révélateur d’une vision extrême du possible, du pire dont l’homme est capable. McCarthy établit un dialogue entre les mots et leurs sens, en joue, le pervertit et le renverse. Cette étude montre que la créature en est l’agent, et représente la poétique de l’auteur et les stratégies narratives qui font de ses romans des œuvres si frappantes et inoubliables.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 Cormac McCarthy, Suttree, New York: Vintage Books, (1979) 1992, 5.

The city beset by a thing unknown and will it come from forest or sea? The murengers have walled the pale, the gates are shut, but lo the thing’s inside and can you guess his shape? Where he’s kept or what’s the counter of his face? Is he a weaver, bloody shuttle shot through a timewrap, a carder of souls from the world’s nap? Or a hunter with hounds or do bone horses draw his deadcart through the streets and does he call his trade to each? Dear friend he is not to be dwelt upon for it is by just suchwise that he’s invited in.1

  • 2 Scott D. Yarbrough, “Tricksters and Lightbringers in McCarthy’s Post-Appalachian Novels”, The Corma (...)

1This introduction to Suttree, Cormac McCarthy’s fourth novel, published in 1979, exposes the author’s long-drawn-out metaphor of the advent of the violent being and the question of its shape. Not unlike Brecht’s foul beast, the “thing” he describes may take any shape and the reader’s torment directly rises from referential negativity and imprecision, associated with an overflow of signified. Quoting Edwin T. Arnold, Scott D. Yarbrough notes that McCarthy is “fond of weaving various strands into the evolving tapestry of his books that may be further teased out in later works.”2 This paper wishes to focus on one of the autotextual strands that the metaphor reveals: the motif of the double, twins and mirror images.

  • 3 Suttree, 366.
  • 4 The reader may think of the “tree of dead babies” in Blood Meridian, the murder perpetrated by Chi (...)
  • 5 Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West, New York: Vintage Books, (1985 (...)

2I will therefore first analyze how this thing, this ‘creature’, is delivered, matures through McCarthy’s first five novels and makes a comeback in No Country for Old Men and also to some extent in The Road. It appears to function through the construction of doubles who reveal the shape of the monsters within the main characters, beginning with Kenneth Rattner in The Orchard Keeper and climaxing with the kid and Judge Holden in Blood Meridian and Llewelyn Moss and Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. In Suttree, the main character wonders: “Am I a monster, are there monsters in me?”3 The darker double always acts as a revealer of an extreme vision of what is possible, stretching events to its most horrific manifestations.4 It appears in McCarthy’s text in the paradoxical and apparently irreferential shape of “things so charged with meaning that their forms are dimmed.”5 Through this paradox, McCarthy establishes a form of dialogue between words and their meanings, toying with it, distorting and reversing it, prefiguring referential illusions and blurring in The Road. I will show how the ‘creature’ is its agent.

3This analysis reveals two parallel movements, themselves carrying their own dialectics of doubling. McCarthy uses sets of characters that can be described as doubles, doppelgangers that act as mirrors of each other, each demonstrating what first appears as opposite ethe. This movement is accompanied by another one which discusses the signifiers and referents used to define the double carrying the ethos of destruction and the paroxysm of horror in human behavior. The more horrific the nature of this double, this ‘creature’, the more problematic its semiotic representation appears. The creature represents the author’s poetics and encompasses the narrative strategies that make McCarthy’s novels such striking and unforgettable works.

Weaving the creature

  • 6 Autotextuality is defined as a form of “self-citation”, an internal referencing system within an au (...)
  • 7 Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men, London: Picador, 2010, 292.

4The first lines of Suttree mentioned in the introduction bear autotextual6 echoes. The ‘thing’s’ appearance is announced and its duplicity (“the counter of his face”) both presents and reminds the reader of the several sets of doppelgangers that appear in the author’s works, such as the judge and the kid, or even more recently in the author’s oeuvre, Moss and Chigurh. In No Country for Old Men, Chigurh, who “looks like anybody”7 acts as a revealer of Moss’s destiny, and finally embodies it. This parallel is used at the beginning of the Coen Brother’s film when the two characters both say “Freeze!” when aiming at their prey.

5To this day, critics have attempted to analyze this ‘thing unknown’ and have associated it to death, the consciousness of death and the fear felt for instance by Suttree as a character. Robert L. Jarrett brought together some of these different approaches:

  • 8 Robert L. Jarrett, “Chapter Three: Postmodern Outcasts and Alienation: Child of God and Suttree”, C (...)

[Suttree’s] consciousness of death produces in Suttree what [Vereen] Bell in an earlier essay had termed an existential, “ambiguous nihilism” and John Lewis Longley, Jr., “a metaphysics of death.” Frank Shelton [finds] the novel’s center in its opposition between life and suicide […]. Young finds Suttree’s consciousness to be symptomatic of the inhibitions in Freud‘s Civilization and Its Discontents – inhibitions that enable civilization by censoring free expression of the instinctual drives, thereby also giving rise to neurosis.8

  • 9 John M. Grammer, “A Thing Against Which Time Will Not Prevail: Pastoral and History in McCarthy’s S (...)
  • 10 James R. Giles, “Violence and the Immanence of the ‘Thing Unknown’: Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree”, Vio (...)

6John M. Grammer’s interpretation first seems in line with the latter, although he limits his to Suttree only. He conceives the ‘thing unknown’ as: “human nature, an image of ourselves presented at the gates which we are compelled to take in and worship –and which turns, immediately, into our ruin.”9 The ‘immediacy’ of our ruin requires qualification. In McCarthy’s novels, ruin seems indeed inevitable and therefore not to be questioned. However, the time man has and the events he faces between the presentation of his true nature and his ruin and death is what differs for each character and determines their death and its circumstances. If it does not keep man away from his ruin, the transformation of this presentation into acknowledgment seems to keep it at bay. The plots of McCarthy’s novels, often considered as indefinable or altogether absent, seem to reside in each character’s ability to deal with his impending doom. James R. Giles deems John M. Grammer’s vision insufficient and writes that: “t]he ‘thing unknown’ that threatens its fictional Knoxville is essentially human impermanence – death as the irrevocable and astonishingly unjust pronouncement of an insane god who has withdrawn his grace from the human world.”10 This study aims at moving towards a further perception of the thing and the being it reveals. This being appears to be more complex and encompassing, although it does not exclude former interpretations. The image of the wall welcomes a comparison to consciousness (as Thomas D. Young noted). However, the perturbing element should extend beyond the Id, death and fear towards a third possibility outside obvious dualities which is as terrifying as it is complex and seems to embody McCarthy’s definition of man in his true nature.

7In the introduction to Suttree, the narrator warns the reader (“Dear Friend”), of the terrible events to come and indicates that the ‘thing’s’ place is inward. The question of its shape and its representation also pervades Cormac McCarthy’s first five novels. The recurrence of apparently imprecise and negative signifiers (‘thing’, ‘it’, ‘something’, ‘thing unknown’, ‘being’, ‘creature’, ‘figure’, ‘beyond right knowing’, ‘unreckonable’, ‘nameless’, ‘unspeakable’)11 and their correlative show the impossibility of the semiotic representation of this ‘creature’. Its links to the excess of the signified surrounding and describing it, and its autotextual construction, reveal McCarthy’s most interesting and undervalued creation. Although it is inseparable from the main characters as it represents their inner dark, it is also omnipresent in the world around them, to the point that it may delude them into thinking that it is only external. McCarthy’s most terrifying portraits are portentous of the true nature of man and the author’s vision of man and the world.

8Man himself seems to be an answer to the narrator’s question of the thing’s shape, and we will show how crucial this answer becomes in the author’s narratives. McCarthy’s violent being and all his previous and future violent beings are (re)introduced here. Thanks to all types of metaphorical “murengers”, man feels himself to be safe from the threatening being. McCarthy immediately shows the uselessness of these fictions: “the thing’s inside”, and points towards the inside of all men and all societies as beings. This violent being is monstrous, blood-thirsty and whittles a place for itself amongst man’s beliefs. It filters into the heart of what they have assumed is directed by God (“Is he a weaver”) while they lie dozing in a state of illusory peace. It chases them, finds them and draws them ever closer to it, as it does with Culla Holme in Outer Dark. It is then too late, if they listen it has already won, just like the crowd who listen to the judge at the beginning of Blood Meridian. The judge’s fellow travelers progressively come to feel distrust and fear. They perceive the dangerous character of the judge himself and of his discourse. Here is how he is described after he has just spoken on the repetitive and predatory nature of man and how it inevitably leads him to his ruin:

  • 12 Blood Meridian, 147.

The judge looked about him. He was sat before the fire naked save for his breeches and his hands rested palm down upon his knees. His eyes were empty slots. None among the company harbored any notion as to what this attitude implied, yet so like an icon was he in his sitting that they grew cautious and spoke with circumspection among themselves as if they would not waken something that had better been left sleeping.12

  • 13 “Bald and pale and bloated, larval to some unreckonable being.” (Blood Meridian, 57) Physical simil (...)

9 This ‘something’, this floating or ungraspable signifier, must be analyzed alongside the ‘unreckonable being’, a phrase used by McCarthy to describe what that formidable tree, the tree of dead babies, is going to spawn,13 and the ‘thing unknown’ in Suttree. They all describe the advent of the violent ontos and the threat of its totalitarian takeover of man. The very first appearance of this being in McCarthy’s work can be traced back to the beginning of The Orchard Keeper. It then takes the form of Kenneth Rattner’s double. As if looking in a mirror, Rattner seeks and welcomes this being. They are of the same essence.

  • 14 The Orchard Keeper, 24.

He came through the door and onto the porch, circumspectly, nodding across them all with difference, as if someone knew he might be there, beyond the railing itself and suspended mysteriously in the darkness, leaned against the doorframe and lifted the bottle to his mouth, his eyes shifting among them or when they looked closing or seeking again that being in the outer dark with whom he held communion, smiling a little himself, the onlooker, the stranger. 14

  • 15 Outer Dark is the title of Cormac McCarthy’s second novel and was published in 1968.

10This passage bears all the marks of the thing’s presence. The words “outer dark” hint at the autotextual circumstances of its appearance,15 and in turn contextualize and emphasize its significance. Narrative uncertainty incites the reader to understand the signifiers ‘himself’, ‘onlooker’ and ‘stranger’ as referring both to Rattner and the “being in the outer dark”, as if Rattner were standing in front of a mirror, thus again making the creature appear both internal and external.

  • 16 James R. Giles, op. cit., 94.
  • 17 McCarthy’s upcoming novel Stella Maris, to be published in November 2022, seems in keeping with thi (...)
  • 18 This can be felt in Suttree’s words: “Barrenness of heart and gothic loneliness. […] “Visions of un (...)
  • 19 This interpretation also seems relevant when analyzing Moss’s decision to go back to the site of th (...)

11Closing gates both reassures and deceives. Throughout McCarthy’s work, the terrifying and dangerous ‘thing’ is perceived as something abhorrent to Nature and therefore primarily external. This is also what reassures the readers as well as what misleads them. The judge and the kid are perfect examples of this device. Only the former is clearly cast as unnatural, the latter is nonetheless just as dangerous. James R. Giles notes that: “even the most gentle of McCarthy’s people carry the seeds of destruction with them everywhere”.16 The same strategy is at works when McCarthy calls a serial killer, Lester Ballard, “child of God”. Danger does not necessarily come from whom one thinks. With McCarthy, it comes from both sides of the divide between expected and unexpected. At once man and beast, natural and unnatural, McCarthy’s violent being is like his narratives. They are about challenging frontiers and limits, toying with them, analyzing them, and sometimes establishing their imprecision. McCarthy’s ontos overflows, it cannot be contained. It constantly threatens. The introduction to Suttree functions as an autotextual warning for all the other novels.17 They all then appear as testimonies to the reality of its threat. The entrance into violence corresponds to the invitation and revelation of the thing inside oneself. What defines this thing inside, how is it provoked into being? Want and its associated pain, both felt metaphysically and materially, seem to be at the origin of the temptation that leads to its entrance.18 Through their actions, McCarthy’s characters invite it, ignoring the author’s warning.19

The poetics of duality

12McCarthy plays with the reader as he uses images that can all too easily be identified with evil and the devil, i.e. an external tempter that must be kept at bay. Nevertheless, they also refer to the internal enemy, within one’s own consciousness and within the community, which both attracts and repulses. This form of witch hunt is also present in Child of God through the community’s behavior towards Lester Ballard and in Outer Dark with Culla Holme. In one of Suttree’s nightmares, as he is locked up, the threat of evil is reintroduced. It is more precisely here the threat of suffering, torture and death.

  • 20 Suttree, 86.

But what loomed was a flayed man with his brisket tacked open like a cooling beef and his skull peeled, blue and bulbous and palely luminescent, black grots his eyeholes and bloody mouth gaped tongueless. The traveler had seized his fingers in his jaw, but it was not alone this horror that he cried. Beyond the flayed man dimly adumbrate another figure paled, for his surgeons move about the world even as you and I. 20

  • 21 In No Country for Old Men, Chigurh is another embodiment of such “surgeons”. The autotextual refere (...)
  • 22 Thomas D. Young Jr., “The Imprisonment of Sensibility: Suttree”, Southern Quarterly 30.4 (1992), 75
  • 23 Jay Aaron Beavers, “‘Stairwell to nowhere’: The Darkness of God in Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree”, Sout (...)
  • 24 Ibidem, 102. The passage Beavers refers to is the following: “Suttree’s cameo visage in the black (...)
  • 25 Suttree, 287.
  • 26 Jay Aaron Beavers, op. cit.,103.
  • 27 Suttree, 461.

13Contrary to what the facts relate in Blood Meridian, Child of God and even Outer Dark, violence is not part of Suttree’s reality but exists in what he imagines and dreams. This grotesque visual universe suggests the threats of death, nothingness and of the annihilation of being, and its terror is at once intense and petrifying. These threats are crystallized through violent and horrific states that appear as such since they describe situations that place man in-between two positions. In all of McCarthy’s novels, horror corresponds to non-fixity, the possibility of an infinitude that is opposed to death, incomprehensibility, impenetrability and the loss of oneself. Suttree neither accepts it nor understands it yet. He is thus at the mercy of his visions. The creature in his dream is in-between life and death, neither a man nor an animal (‘flayed’, ‘brisket’, ‘cooling beef’ all refer to animal butchery). He is about to die, but he does not. This vision of the in-between of the flayed man combined with the realization of the possibility of ongoing torture without the assurance of the relief of death are precisely what make this creature so terrifying. The guilty surgeons are both internal and external (‘You and I’). They do not kill, they operate and leave their surgical wounds unstitched, and they then move on to another victim.21 The horrific living-dead motif reemerges persistently, particularly through Suttree’s dead twin brother, who is once again both an inner and outer being. Thomas D. Young writes that “it is the magnitude of feeling himself twinned with a creature consigned to the parallel universe of death that has made is heart [w]eathershrunk and loveless”.22 Jay Aaron Beavers adds that “his preoccupation with his own double emphasizes his sense of fragmentation and incompleteness; he is haunted by the fact of his own contingent and accidental existence”.23 However, the end of Suttree demonstrates a change in the character’s consciousness. As noted by Beavers: “It is a significant moment in Suttree’s recursive and halting progress through the novel that just after he recants of his vanity, he blows out the lamp and this also extinguishes the double of himself created by the darkened window behind him and his shadow on the ceiling”.24 He no longer describes himself as an imago, a “doublegoer, some othersuttree”25 and seems to have won over his double, or at least be able to control him. Beavers interprets Suttree’s void becoming a place of possibility as a form of transcendence, “taking place in the darkness of the void, in the recognition of the vanity of the world”.26 This transcendence of the duality of this being towards the acknowledgment of his uniqueness is precisely what only Suttree seems to be able to achieve. He realizes that there is “one Suttree only”.27

  • 28 Julius Greve, “‘Another kind of clay’: On Blood Meridian’s Okenian Philosophy of Nature”, The Corma (...)
  • 29 In Child of God, the image of Lester Ballard coming out of the cave where he leaves his corpses, wh (...)

14In McCarthy’s early novels, violence is the unrelenting expression of inner battles. The inner quality of the creature is one of the aspects that participate in the tensions characterizing its representation. The creature, the autotextual motif of the twin and the double, is indeed delivered, thrown into the world, and matures throughout McCarthy’s first five novels. Mostly present in sets of characters, it can also be perceived in their behavior and intentions. Julius Greve notes that Glanton’s thought displays “twin intentions of containment and destruction”.28 The creature thus functions as narrative sets of external doubles who both reveal and reflect the characters’ own inner monsters. These characters are Kenneth Rattner and the stranger in the shadows in The Orchard Keeper, Culla Holme and the trio of killers in Outer Dark, Lester Ballard and the whole community in Child of God,29 Suttree and his dead twin in Suttree, and Judge Holden and the kid in Blood Meridian.

  • 30 “Am I a monster, are there monsters in me?” Suttree, 366.
  • 31 The recent use of this narrative device in The Road is another striking example.
  • 32 Philip A. Snyder, ““Disappearance in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian”, Western American Literature(...)

15The darker double and its correlative images always then act as a revealer of all that is possible. However, only Suttree seems able to express its workings and asks the question of the inner place of the monster, echoing the introduction to the novel that bears his name.30 In McCarthy’s novels, these monstruous and violent doppelgangers appear in paradoxical and apparently irreferential shapes. The fact that so many characters have no name and only feature under the common nouns “man”, “old man”, “kid” etc. is another device which McCarthy uses purposefully.31 Echoing its dual nature through oxymoronic arrays, the creature has no name because it bears all names, its forms are hard to identify because they tend towards universalism, can be everything and everywhere, nothing and nowhere. The creature has always been there, just as the judge is said to have appeared out of nowhere in Blood Meridian. The motif of the double is also established through the characters of the John Jackson twins, one being black and the other white. In his article “Disappearance in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian”, Philip A. Snyder notes that the following passage “sets up the association of the black Jackson as the shadow of the white, as some kind of supplement of dark negative trace.”32

  • 33 Blood Meridian, 81.

Bad blood lay between them and as they rode up under the barren mountains the white man would fall back alongside the other and take his shadow for the shade that was in it and whisper to him.33

  • 34 Scott D. Yarbrough, op. cit., 50.
  • 35 James Dorson, “Demystifying the Judge: Law and Mythical Violence in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridia (...)
  • 36 Ibidem, 109.
  • 37 No Country for Old Men, 46.

16It must be noted that in No Country for Old Men, Chigurh clearly appears as another embodiment of the judge. Yarbrough notes that “he too is implacable, inscrutable, a seemingly unstoppable force of nature”.34 Chigurh appears as “indomitable”35 as Judge Holden. This parallel could be extended to the novels themselves, as Blood Meridian is said to suggest that violence “has now become institutionalized”36, and the sheriff in No Country complains about this very fact. It is interesting to note that a dialogue between the two narratives can be established and Blood Meridian proves that Bell is deluded in thinking that the violence he witnesses in a new phenomenon, establishing a form of criticism of the naivety of what Sherriff Bell stands for. At the beginning of the novel, Bell tells Lamar: “I just have this feeling we’re looking at something we really aint never even seen before.”37

  • 38 “Somewhere in the gray wood by the river is the huntsman and in the brooming corn and in the castel (...)
  • 39 James Dorson, op. cit., 108.
  • 40 Ibidem, 113.

17Chigurh actually seems to bring together many if not all of the characteristics of McCarthy’s violent doubles. Chigurh is, for Moss, the mirror image that Rattner sees in The Orchard Keeper, he is the leader of the trio of malignant beings in Outer Dark, who are also given to murder and follow Culla Holme in order to make him face his actions, he is post-Vietnam America’s Lester Ballard, he is the monstruous surgeon and the huntsman in Suttree38 and finally, his speeches, among other antics, are reminiscent of the judge’s tirades in Blood Meridian. Writing what could perfectly apply to Chigurh and his cryptic speeches when talking to the filling station owner and Carla Jean, James Dorson writes about Judge Holden: “His talk is similarly riddled with paradoxes, his duplicitous logic always ready to turn back on itself, and his every message is delivered with a smile so eerie that we never know what is behind it.”39 The same mystery related to predetermination pervades the two characters’ discourse. What Dorson notes about the Judge’s rule of law also applies to Chigurh: “If everything is commensurable, then the scales of the world are fixed. There can be no contingency, no ambiguity, no resistance, because everything is already accounted for.”40

  • 41 David Huerbert notes that this opposition between good and bad is a survival mechanism meant to kee (...)
  • 42 Maggie Bortz, “Carrying the Fire: Individuation Toward the Mature Masculine and Telos of Cultural M (...)

18In his later works, The Road and No Country for Old Men, McCarthy’s poetics of doubling are exemplified in the opposition between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”, and in the characters of Chigurh and Moss.41 To Maggie Boertz, Chigurh is the “quintessential bounty hunter, a contemporary iteration of the scalp hunters in Blood Meridian.” She notes that: “other people become objects or livestock to him, and in this way, he prefigures the cannibals in The Road.” She also writes that in some respects, Chigurh is like a “photographic negative of Moss”, noting their parallel injuries and their borrowing of other people’s clothes.42 A final parallel can be drawn between Moss and the Kid in Blood Meridian. Both their deaths are omitted from the narrative and these ellipses, by contrast, highlight the survival of their ‘violent doubles’. Moss and the kid may also appear as mirrored, autotextual doubles. The fact that their respective deaths are both untold within the two narratives provides for a previously unnoticed elliptic similarity.

The paradoxical referential deprivation of violent doubles: naming the unnamable

  • 43 Philip A. Snyder, op. cit., 128.
  • 44 Another manifestation of this process is developed in The Road, where the tension between disappear (...)
  • 45 Georg Guillemin, “Chapter Two: “Optical Democracy”, Biocentrism in Blood Meridian (1985)”, The Pas (...)

19Snyder notes that in Blood Meridian “everything seems to disappear” and defines what he calls the author’s “vanishing motif”.43 This motif seems to apply to signifiers, with the judge as the main culprit and the driving force. When analyzing the thing and its meaning, the issue of semantic and semiotic inadequacy comes to the fore. McCarthy’s creature is so totalizing and omnipresent that it is impossible to signify, and the signifiers used to describe it can be qualified as imprecise, highlighting absence and want. Mirroring the judge’s collecting of objects and artefacts in his book so they can be destroyed, signifiers become incompetent, their vagueness or negativity is a manifestation of their universal nature, revealing their actual repleteness and omnipresence.44 When analysing the significance of the tree of dead babies in the novel, Georg Guillemin points at the problem tackled here: “an interpretation of the image in symbolical terms would be hard-pressed to match signifier (the image) with a specific signified or even an objective referent.”45 Signifiers appear as corrupted by their signified. These tensions in representation reveal that, in these narratives, meaning is excluded and man is excluded from all meaning. McCarthy formulates these tensions twice in Blood Meridian, as he describes the characters. The duality of being and this duality inside being are expressed in a passage where the characters are revealed as incapable of uniting the two tendencies within their being.

  • 46 Blood Meridian, 65.

They descended the mountain, going down over the rocks with their hands outheld before them and their shadows contorted on the broken terrain like creatures seeking their own forms. 46

20The state of contortion that their shadows endure mirrors that of their identities and their perception of their own being. Their images look as if they need to be assembled, rebuilt, made to coincide. The whole novel and to a certain extent all of McCarthy’s novels follow the evolution of characters whose sense of being needs to be reconstructed. The success or failure of this enterprise depends on the degree of independence they eventually reach. Total withdrawal associated with self-contemplation is necessary to succeed in their confrontation of the destructive being within themselves and all around them. The kid, like the reader of Suttree, is given early warning of this, at the beginning of the novel, by an old hermit.

You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make a machine. And evil that can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it. You believe that?

I dont know.

  • 47 Ibidem, 19.

Believe that.47

  • 48 “Then he descended the esker and passed once more across the boneyard led by the tethered fool unti (...)

21In a second passage in Blood Meridian, the judge and the imbecile are described as “shimmering and insubstantial”.48 They are the embodiment of this being who is incomprehensible precisely because it bears too much meaning. The kid cannot see clearly and the reader feels his puzzlement.

  • 49 Ibid., p. 281-282. Iain Bernhoft notes that “this meaning-dimmed form provokes in McCarthy critici (...)

They were both of them naked and they neared through the desert dawn like beings of a mode little more than tangential to the world at large, their figures now quick with clarity and now fugitive in the strangeness of that same light. Like things whose very portent renders them ambiguous. Like things so charged with meaning that their forms are dimmed. 49

22In all of his narratives and more particularly in Suttree and Blood Meridian, McCarthy proposes to reflect on the meaning of the text and meaning through the text. Blood Meridian’s characters are proof of what appears as the possibility of existence in the text beyond meaning. In parallel, they show the existence of beings whose overflow of meaning dissolves the form and makes it impossible to identify. Extending the narrative device of doubling, mirrors and duality, McCarthy guides the reader, and the reader’s quest for the meaning of characters is also a quest to comprehend what the ‘thing’ is. It has no definite shape and its meaning is presented (particularly through the judge’s discourse, and it is again echoed in Chigurh’s) as unfathomable and inconceivable. Through his narratives, McCarthy shows the existence of textual beings whose content and form do not coincide. John Rothfolk writes:

  • 50 John Rothfork, “Cormac McCarthy as Pragmatist”, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, Winter 2 (...)

Meaning and language are not two things but two sides of the same coin. Meaning is a property or attribute of language that has no specific form outside language. 50

23If meaning and language here are two sides of a coin, McCarthy’s distortions of this coin are one of his most fascinating narrative strategies.

  • 51 Suttree, 9. A couple of pages earlier, in the same scene, the same signifiers are also used, annou (...)

24Their perception is in adequacy with the characters’ fate and feeling of belonging in the world and their fate. Access to meaning then seems to precisely equate with the recognition of the impossibility of this access and appears to correspond with access to life. In Blood Meridian, the unformulated, and what cannot be formulated, eventually take over. The judge’s eternal opacity and the kid’s inability to transcend what he represents dictate what is expecting him and will find him. Moreover, the ‘things’ that are rendered obscure and indistinct pertain to the characters as well as the narrative itself. The passage above reunites the reader with the theme of the double (‘ambiguous’) and the reunion of opposites which characterize the text and the appearance of the thing (‘beings’, ‘things’). The dialectic of awryness and slant (‘tangential’), also present in Suttree when the body is lifted out of the water in the opening scene (“his head awry”)51, participates in this semantic impasse. The kid’s quest for meaning is at a dead end and is transferred onto the reader.

  • 52 “He looked like anybody.” “I mean there wasnt nothin unsusual looking about him”. (No Country for O (...)

25The imprecision of the terms used to qualify the judge, the imbecile and more generally the creature, confirm this paradox. The overflow of signified paradoxically leads to a profusion of signifiers establishing contrast, deprivation, negativity and want. Throughout his narratives, McCarthy elaborates a poetics of the unnamed and unnamable, which corresponds to the characters’ inability to transcend and acknowledge the being which is at the same time internal and external. When the text turns to the impossibility of naming and defining, signifiers then reflect the arrival of the worst, of horror and fear. In No Country for Old Men, this process arises through the witnesses’ incapacity to describe Chigurh.52 Being at a loss for signifiers is how the author chooses to write what is impossible to formulate or name. In parallel, refusing or not being able to name corresponds to the refutation of existence. In Blood Meridian, the following passage enounces another distortion of the meaning/language coin. The meaning is clear, implacable, even though no signifiers express it. In McCarthy’s narratives, naming is transcending.

  • 53 Blood Meridian, 282.

The three at the well watched mutely this transit out of the breaking day and even though there was no longer any question as to what it was that approached yet none would name it. 53

  • 54 Iain Bernhoft, op. cit., 35.

26Therefore, through this semiotic process, McCarthy’s writing mimics man’s behavior. Since the signified cannot be faced, since the consequences for meaning are too great, their representations are taken hostage inside the narrative. The “three at the well” are all aware of the creature’s identity, they all carry knowledge of it, recognize it, but its name is never pronounced since they cannot acknowledge its existence. Bernhoft notes that the judge’s appearance “impedes any interpretation” by the other characters.54 The same signifiers are used to describe the unnamable and destructive creature among an Indian community in Blood Meridian.

  • 55 Blood Meridian, 300-301, emphasis added.

They eked a desperate living from that land and they knew that nothing excepting some savage pursuit could drive men to such plight and they watched each day for that thing to gather itself out of its terrible incubation in the house of the sun and muster along the edge of the eastern world and whether it be armies or plagues or pestilence or something altogether unspeakable they waited with a strange equanimity. 55

  • 56 It is also in this attitude that a difference between Suttree and the other characters is establish (...)
  • 57 No Country for Old Men, 108.
  • 58 John M. Grammer, op. cit., 33.

27Their tranquility is paradoxical as it is described as ‘strange’. It seems to come from their awareness of the thing’s inevitable coming and a state of permanent alert and terror.56 They know that the creature is inescapable and they know its recruiting power. In No Country for Old Men, Moss has reached a similar state of awareness: “He knew what was coming. He just didnt know when.”57 John M. Grammer echoes James R. Giles’s words on human impermanence and suggests a similar stance in his comments on The Orchard Keeper, and further links it to Suttree: “[I]t seems that the only sort of permanence ultimately available to us is one based upon an intense awareness of impermanence; life is possible only in a continual and more or less cordial dialogue with death.”58 The impermanence and death perceived by Grammer need to be extended and redefined. The state of impermanence and disruption which is due to the permanent threat of being overtaken by the thing within, without the ability to acknowledge it and confront it, ultimately leads man to premature death. The very nature of man, and the permanence of its impermanence, which includes death but is not limited to death, is what constantly threatens and needs addressing.

Conclusion

  • 59 David Huebert, op. cit., 70.

28In his novels, as noted by David Huebert, it is “part of McCarthy’s mythos to paint his story-worlds in black and white, amplifying the conflict by pitting his characters against pure, radical evil.”59 This ‘evil’ bears autotextual similarities both as characters and as referential representations. It is woven through his novels as the double, or a mirror image, of the main protagonist. It is horrific and violent and paradoxical, and the presence of the being at the origin of this extreme violence is expressed using vague, imprecise and negative terms.

  • 60 Suttree, 381.

29For McCarthy, naming is bestowing an identity. Refusing to recognize this identity and to give it meaning contaminates the narrative, keeps on returning heralded by the same signifiers which are recognizable by their imprecision and negations. The meaning of the text seems to belong to this creature. The judge and the imbecile haunt the narrative as Culla Holme haunts the end of Outer Dark. Their formulation is essential, at the risk of sweeping the characters away. Their mission is to make sense of the being which keeps on appearing. Formulating the creature’s being is indissociable from that of their own being, since it refers in fact to the same processes, to the same one and only being. “As it was then, is now and ever shall.”60

  • 61 Bruce Brewton, “The Changing Landscape of Violence in Cormac McCarthy’s Early Novels and the Border (...)

30In his narratives, McCarthy seems to parallel the knowledge of oneself and its formal representation. Existence, being, identity and form are integrated within a similar correlative system. They are all essential to their access to a sense of belonging, a feeling of being oneself, of being able to live and evolve in the world and to being recognized. Bruce Brewton notes that: “Stories reveal being because they are a part of being itself.”61 McCarthy indeed manages to problematize being through the accumulation of vague and negative signifiers. The quest for meaning and the meaning of being is a quest for form and representation. The judge is an example of a creature whose form, beyond his physical aspect, which is in itself hard to conceive, is constantly changing, fluctuating, sometimes clear and other times immediately alien and undetermined. McCarthy asks the postmodern and structuralist-like question of the impossibility to represent being.

  • 62 “The kid spoke to him. He aint nothin. You told me so yourself. Men are made of the dust of the ear (...)

31However, his demonstration goes beyond the inadequacy of language, it is one which suggests the inherent opacity of being. Understanding it is not impossible, it is man’s mission and it necessitates acknowledging this state of puzzlement and the extent of man’s destructive propensities and tendencies. McCarthy shows the extent of man’s inadequacy with the world and what he can conceive, although he is its perfect image. The mistake resides in the urgent will to represent these beings, the solution in the wisdom of acknowledging them. The sense of belonging to the world lies in the recognition and the definition of one’s own place when faced with the inconceivable and among the inconceivable. It is too late for the kid.62 Only Suttre succeeds.

  • 63 Scott D. Yarbrough, op. cit., 52.

32Throughout his narratives, McCarthy’s autotextual construction transcends differences in styles and genres. Through the motif of the double and representational impossibility, it forces the reader “to confront the truth that we are a fallen race, we humans, and we will perpetrate grave and horrific desecrations upon each other. The world is a horrible, chaotic place and sooner or later we will all confront our personal Judge Holden.”63

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Bibliographie

BEAVERS Jay Aaron, “‘Stairwell to nowhere’: The Darkness of God in Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree”, South Atlantic Review, Vol. 80, No. 1-2 (2015), 94-114.

BERNHOFT Iain, “‘Some degenerate entrepreneur fleeing from a medicine show’: Judge Holden in the Age of P. T. Barnum”, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1 (2012), 27-45.

BREWTON Bruce, “The Changing Landscape of Violence in Cormac McCarthy’s Early Novels and the Border Trilogy”, Southern Literary Journal, Fall 2004, Vol. 37, No. 1, 121-143.

BORTZ Maggie, “Carrying the Fire: Individuation Toward the Mature Masculine and Telos of Cultural Myth in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men and The Road”, Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Fall 2011), 28-42.

DORSON James, “Demystifying the Judge: Law and Mythical Violence in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian”, Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 36, No. 2, Aesthetic Politics – Revolutionary and Counter-Revolutionary (Winter 2013), 105-121.

GILES James R., “Violence and the Immanence of the ‘Thing Unknown’: Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree”, Violence in the Contemporary American Novel: An End to Innocence, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000, 84-99, notes 140-141.

GRAMMER John M., “A Thing Against Which Time Will Not Prevail: Pastoral and History in McCarthy’s South”, in Edwin T. Arnold and Dianne C. Luce (eds.), Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999.

GREVE Julius, “‘Another kind of clay’: On Blood Meridian’s Okenian Philosophy of Nature”, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2015), 27-53.

GUILLEMIN Georg, The Pastoral Vision of Cormac McCarthy, College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004.

HUEBERT David, “Eating and Mourning the Corpse of the World: Ecological Cannibalism and Elegiac Protomourning in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2017), 66-87.

JARRETT Robert L., Cormac McCarthy, New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997.

KOLAROV Radosvet, Repetition and Creation: Poetics of Autotextuality, New York and London: Routledge, 2021.

MCCARTHY Cormac, The Orchard Keeper, New York: Vintage Books, (1965) 1993.

MCCARTHY Cormac, Outer Dark, New York: Vintage Books, (1968) 1993.

MCCARTHY Cormac, Child of God, New York: Vintage Books, (1973) 1993.

MCCARTHY Cormac, Suttree, New York: Vintage Books, (1979) 1992.

MCCARTHY Cormac, Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West, New York: Vintage Books, (1985) 1992.

MCCARTHY Cormac, No Country for Old Men, London: Picador, 2010.

MCCARTHY Cormac, The Road, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.

ROTHFORK John, “Cormac McCarthy as Pragmatist”, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, Winter 2006, Vol. 47, No. 2, 201-214.

SNYDER Philip A., ““Disappearance in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian”, Western American Literature, Summer 2009, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Summer 2009), 126-139.

YARBROUGH Scott D., “Tricksters and Lightbringers in McCarthy’s Post-Appalachian Novels”, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, 2012, Vol. 10, No. 1, 46- 55.

YOUNG Jr. Thomas D., “The Imprisonment of Sensibility: Suttree”, Southern Quarterly 30.4 (1992), 72-92.

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Notes

1 Cormac McCarthy, Suttree, New York: Vintage Books, (1979) 1992, 5.

2 Scott D. Yarbrough, “Tricksters and Lightbringers in McCarthy’s Post-Appalachian Novels”, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, 2012, Vol. 10, No. 1, 46.

3 Suttree, 366.

4 The reader may think of the “tree of dead babies” in Blood Meridian, the murder perpetrated by Chigurh in the first pages of No Country for Old Men or, in The Road, the baby on a spit (“What the boy had seen was a charred human infant headless and gutted and blackening on the spit.” 167) and the cannibals’ underground ‘storage’ room.

5 Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West, New York: Vintage Books, (1985) 1992, 282.

6 Autotextuality is defined as a form of “self-citation”, an internal referencing system within an author’s work. See <http://www.item.ens.fr/dictionnaire/autotextualite/>.Radosvet Kolarov defines autotextuality as the dialogue between texts written by the same author. “The interaction between texts has not only generative, building function. It also plays a hermeneutic part. “Hermeneutical” autotextuality explores the interpretational intentions of a text towards another one, the cases when one of the texts tries to elucidate “dark” places of another text, as well as to enhance some semantic points that are at first glance peripheral but have strategic meaning.” (Radosvet Kolarov, Repetition and Creation: Poetics of Autotextuality, New York and London: Routledge, 2021, 12-13) This definition corresponds precisely to the work undertaken in this paper.

7 Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men, London: Picador, 2010, 292.

8 Robert L. Jarrett, “Chapter Three: Postmodern Outcasts and Alienation: Child of God and Suttree”, Cormac McCarthy, New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997, 56.

9 John M. Grammer, “A Thing Against Which Time Will Not Prevail: Pastoral and History in McCarthy’s South”, Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy, ed. Edwin T. Arnold et Dianne C. Luce, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999, 41. Grammer uses as a title another occurrence of the signifiers under study here (“thing”), in a phrase which is also consistent with this analysis.

10 James R. Giles, “Violence and the Immanence of the ‘Thing Unknown’: Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree”, Violence in the Contemporary American Novel: An End to Innocence, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000, 87.

11 See the useful list created by John Sepich: <http://www.johnsepich.com/documents/words_cormac_mccarthy_uses_in_his_novels.pdf>. For instance, the word ‘nameless’ appears 42 times in his novels, ‘unknow’ 28 times.

12 Blood Meridian, 147.

13 “Bald and pale and bloated, larval to some unreckonable being.” (Blood Meridian, 57) Physical similarities with the judge are also particularly striking and foretelling here.

14 The Orchard Keeper, 24.

15 Outer Dark is the title of Cormac McCarthy’s second novel and was published in 1968.

16 James R. Giles, op. cit., 94.

17 McCarthy’s upcoming novel Stella Maris, to be published in November 2022, seems in keeping with this violent and threatening presence: “I knew what my brother did not, that there was an ill-contained horror beneath the surface of the world and there always had been. That at the core of reality lies a deep and eternal demonium.” (quoted in: Constance Grady, “Cormac McCarthy’s two new novels are deliberately frustrating”, Vox, 26 Oct 2022, <https://www.vox.com/culture/23423262/passenger-stella-maris-review-cormac-mccarthy>).

18 This can be felt in Suttree’s words: “Barrenness of heart and gothic loneliness. […] “Visions of unspeakable loveliness from a world lost. To make you ache with want.” (Suttree, 50, emphasis added.) Suttree seems, albeit unconsciously, to look for this extreme state of pain and solitude in order to reach the optimal conditions for confrontation with this ‘being’.

19 This interpretation also seems relevant when analyzing Moss’s decision to go back to the site of the drug deal gone wrong in No Country for Old Men.

20 Suttree, 86.

21 In No Country for Old Men, Chigurh is another embodiment of such “surgeons”. The autotextual reference is rather striking here.

22 Thomas D. Young Jr., “The Imprisonment of Sensibility: Suttree”, Southern Quarterly 30.4 (1992), 75.

23 Jay Aaron Beavers, “‘Stairwell to nowhere’: The Darkness of God in Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree”, South Atlantic Review, Vol. 80, No. 1-2 (2015), 107.

24 Ibidem, 102. The passage Beavers refers to is the following: “Suttree’s cameo visage in the black glass watched him across his lamplit shoulder. He leaned and blew away the flame, his double, the image overhead” (Suttree, 414)

25 Suttree, 287.

26 Jay Aaron Beavers, op. cit.,103.

27 Suttree, 461.

28 Julius Greve, “‘Another kind of clay’: On Blood Meridian’s Okenian Philosophy of Nature”, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2015), 34.

29 In Child of God, the image of Lester Ballard coming out of the cave where he leaves his corpses, which is itself described as the “innards of some great beast” (p. 135), with blood and mud on his feet (“[h]is own tracks came from the cave bloodred with cavemud […]”) seems to directly suggest that he is the community’s creation.

30 “Am I a monster, are there monsters in me?” Suttree, 366.

31 The recent use of this narrative device in The Road is another striking example.

32 Philip A. Snyder, ““Disappearance in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian”, Western American Literature, Summer 2009, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Summer 2009), 136.

33 Blood Meridian, 81.

34 Scott D. Yarbrough, op. cit., 50.

35 James Dorson, “Demystifying the Judge: Law and Mythical Violence in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian”, Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 36, No. 2, Aesthetic Politics – Revolutionary and Counter-Revolutionary (Winter 2013), 107.

36 Ibidem, 109.

37 No Country for Old Men, 46.

38 “Somewhere in the gray wood by the river is the huntsman and in the brooming corn and in the castellated press of cities. His work lies all wheres and his hounds tire not.” (Suttree, 471)

39 James Dorson, op. cit., 108.

40 Ibidem, 113.

41 David Huerbert notes that this opposition between good and bad is a survival mechanism meant to keep the boy alive rather than actually reflecting the true nature of the two characters. He also notes that McCarthy’s revisionist stance actually transcends traditional dichotomies, including that between “good” and “bad”. (David Huebert, “Eating and Mourning the Corpse of the World: Ecological Cannibalism and Elegiac Protomourning in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2017), 76).

42 Maggie Bortz, “Carrying the Fire: Individuation Toward the Mature Masculine and Telos of Cultural Myth in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men and The Road”, Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Fall 2011), 34.

43 Philip A. Snyder, op. cit., 128.

44 Another manifestation of this process is developed in The Road, where the tension between disappearing signifiers and the constantly evolving signified, mirrored in the disappearance of the world as the readers know it, reaches a narrative climax.
“I’ll be in the neighborhood. Okay?
Where’s the neighborhood?
It just means I wont be far.
Okay.” (The Road, 81)

45 Georg Guillemin, “Chapter Two: “Optical Democracy”, Biocentrism in Blood Meridian (1985)”, The Pastoral Vision of Cormac McCarthy, College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004, 93.

46 Blood Meridian, 65.

47 Ibidem, 19.

48 “Then he descended the esker and passed once more across the boneyard led by the tethered fool until the two were shimmering and insubstantial in the waves of heat and then they were gone altogether.” Ibid., 300.

49 Ibid., p. 281-282. Iain Bernhoft notes that “this meaning-dimmed form provokes in McCarthy criticism an array of interpretations – literary, theological and symbolic. [The judge] is Ahab and Whale, Iago and MacBeth, a Gnostic archon and Shiva the destroyer; the personification of Enlightenment rationalism, Nietzschean nihilism, or Manifest Destiny; the devil himself or culture itself”. Iain Bernhoft, “‘Some degenerate entrepreneur fleeing from a medicine show’: Judge Holden in the Age of P. T. Barnum”, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1 (2012), 27. This excess and differences in interpretations point to a form of universality or “patchwork” being in what the character of the judge represents, this universality lying in the common traits between all the characters, writers and movements mentioned.

50 John Rothfork, “Cormac McCarthy as Pragmatist”, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, Winter 2006, Vol. 47, No. 2, 202.

51 Suttree, 9. A couple of pages earlier, in the same scene, the same signifiers are also used, announcing the discovery of the dead body: “A wet curled sluggishly on the river’s surface as if something unseen had stirred in the deeps and small bubbles of gas erupted in oily spectra.” Ibid., 7.

52 “He looked like anybody.” “I mean there wasnt nothin unsusual looking about him”. (No Country for Old Men, 292). All the terms used to describe Chigurh are signifiers which are either negative or point to vagueness and imprecision. The sheriff himself describes Chigurh as a ‘ghost’, an unseizable creature between life and death.

53 Blood Meridian, 282.

54 Iain Bernhoft, op. cit., 35.

55 Blood Meridian, 300-301, emphasis added.

56 It is also in this attitude that a difference between Suttree and the other characters is established. Suttree no longer waits for the huntsman to come and get him. At the end of the novel, he is on the move, as expressed in the final words of the novel; “Fly them”. (Suttree, 471)

57 No Country for Old Men, 108.

58 John M. Grammer, op. cit., 33.

59 David Huebert, op. cit., 70.

60 Suttree, 381.

61 Bruce Brewton, “The Changing Landscape of Violence in Cormac McCarthy’s Early Novels and the Border Trilogy”, Southern Literary Journal, Fall 2004, Vol. 37, No. 1, 141.

62 “The kid spoke to him. He aint nothin. You told me so yourself. Men are made of the dust of the earth. You said it was no pair… pair…
Parable
No parable. That it was a naked fact and the judge was a man like all men.” (Blood Meridian, 297).
This extract shows that the kid heard the truth, repeats it, but is incapable of comprehending it. The reader can note the irony in the double negation ‘he aint nothin’ and the kid’s pronunciation issue leading to confusion becomes extremely relevant in this study of doubles (‘no pair, pair’).

63 Scott D. Yarbrough, op. cit., 52.

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Yvonne-Marie Rogez, « “But lo the thing’s inside and can you guess his shape?”: the semiotic elaboration of Cormac McCarthy’s autotextual creature in his early novels and No Country for Old Men »Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], vol. 21-n°55 | 2023, mis en ligne le 06 février 2023, consulté le 22 février 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/14951 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/lisa.14951

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Yvonne-Marie Rogez

Yvonne-Marie Rogez est Maître de Conférences en anglais juridique à l’Université Paris-Panthéon-Assas où elle enseigne l’anglais juridique et pour l’information-communication. Sa thèse, soutenue en 2008, portait sur « L’économie de l’avoir et de l’être dans les cinq premiers romans de Cormac McCarthy ». Ses recherches portent désormais plus largement sur le domaine étasunien et les études culturelles, et notamment l’étude des problématiques touchant les marginaux et la marginalisation. Elle a été membre du jury de l’agrégation externe d’anglais de 2016 à 2020.

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