The Question of Humanism: A Radical Humanist Reading of The Select Novels of Cormac McCarthy


  • Sakti Sekhar Dash II B.A. English Dr. Umayal Ramanathan College for Women Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu, IndiaRavenshaw University Cuttack, Odisha, India



Virtue, Violence, Morality, Free will, Radical Humanism


Cormac McCarthy has often been hailed as a writer’s writer. His writings are difficult to classify as they evoke a complex perspective. A recurring problem in his novels is the ambiguous nature of virtue and violence. It is my aim to look into their dynamics in the context of radical humanism. It will shed light on human nature as presented by McCarthy, with its aspects of virtue and violence. In a world increasingly suffering from violence, where individuals strive for freedom it is important to address the question of radical humanism and its interaction with primal human nature, virtue and violence. A common thread is represented by various questions regarding human nature, free will, pure evil, nature of God, level of morality, language and meaning. The characters have little or no capacity of mind or consciousness and their encounter with the world is not mediated by laws of morality, politics or religion. In other words, the world we are facing “is void of moral meaning”, it is a world that gravitates around a nihilistic core, a “morally nihilistic world.”


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Primary sources
McCarthy, Cormac. Child of God. New York: Random House USA INC, 2010. Print.
McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian. New York: Random House USA INC, 2015. Print.
McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. London: Picador, 2018. Print.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Crossing. London: Picador, 2018. Print.
McCarthy, Cormac. Cities of the Plains. London: Picador, 2018. Print.
McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. London: Picador, 2008. Print.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. London: Picador, 2009. Print.
Secondary sources
Arnold, Edwin T. and Dianne C. Luce, ed. A Cormac McCarthy Companion- The Border Trilogy. Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 2001. Print.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Bloom’s Modern Critical Views Cormac McCarthy. New York, Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.
Durkin, Kieran. The Radical Humanism of Erich Fromm. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.
Fromm, Erich. You Shall Be As Gods. New York: Fawcett Premier, 1966. Print.
Greenwood, Willard P. Reading Cormac McCarthy. California, Greenwood Press, 2009. Print.
Hage, Erik. Cormac McCarthy A Literary Companion. North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2010. Print.
Hawkins, Ty. Cormac McCarthy’s Philosophy. North Carolina: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. Print.
Lincoln, Kenneth. Cormac McCarthy American Canticles. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.




How to Cite

Dash, S. S. (2020). The Question of Humanism: A Radical Humanist Reading of The Select Novels of Cormac McCarthy. SMART MOVES JOURNAL IJELLH, 8(3), 8.