"The ugly fact is books are made out of books. The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written." -- Cormac McCarthy, author, April 19th 1992
Conrad, J., Heart of Darkness, 1899
... in the august light of abiding memories. [Suttree]
... evoke the great spirit of the past upon the lower reaches of the Thames. The tidal current runs to and fro in its unceasing service, crowded with memories of ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the battles of the sea. [Suttree/Blood Meridian]
... they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of might within the land, bearers of a spark from a sacred fire. [No Country For Old Men/The Road]
"And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth." [Outer Dark]
But darkness was here yesterday. [Outer Dark]
Imagine him here -- the very end of the world, a sea the color of lead, a sky the color of smoke... [Blood Meridian/The Road]
They must have been dying like flies here. [Blood Meridian/The Road]
... feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him, -- all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of men. [Outer Dark/Child of God/Blood Meridian/The Road]
It had become a place of darkness. [Outer Dark]
... when an opportunity had offered at last to meet my predecessor, the grass growing through his ribs was tall enough to hide his bones. [Blood Meridian]
Mad terror had scattered them. [Blood Meridian]
It was just as though I had been let in to some conspiracy -- I don't know -- something not quite right.... [Blood Meridian/No Country For Old Men]
Not many of those she ever looked at ever saw her again -- not half, by a long way. [Blood Meridian/No Country For Old Men]
... the changes take place inside, you know. [Child of God/Blood Meridian/No Country For Old Men]
The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far, far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist. The sun was fierce, the land seemed to glisten and drip with steam. [Outer Dark]
... what looked like a God-forsaken wilderness ... [Outer Dark/Child of God]
For a time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straightforward facts; but the feeling would not last long. Something would turn up to scare it away.
Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn't even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull ... There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding ... and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives -- he called them enemies! -- hidden out of sight somewhere.
'Fine lot these government chaps -- are they not?' he went on, speaking English with great precision and considerable bitterness.
I said to him I expected to see that soon. 'So-o-o!' he exclaimed. He shuffled athwart, keeping one eye ahead vigilantly. 'Don't be too sure,' he continued. 'The other day I took up a man who hanged himself on the road. [Outer Dark]
... this scene of inhabited devastation. [Blood Meridian/The Road]
After all, I also was a part of the great cause of these high and just proceedings. [Blood Meridian]
I've seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! these were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove men -- men, I tell you. [Blood Meridian]
... the other, bent over his books, was making correct entries of perfectly correct transactions ... [Blood Meridian]
Can't say I saw any road or any upkeep, unless the body of a middle-aged negro, with a bullet-hole in the forehead, upon which I absolutely stumbled three miles farther on, may be considered as a permanent improvement. [Blood Meridian]
... the ... devil was running that show. [Blood Meridian]
Certainly the affair was too stupid -- when I think of it -- to be altogether natural. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian]
... for out there there were no external checks. [Blood Meridian]
I asked myself sometimes what it all meant. They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence. [Blood Meridian]
You would think they were praying to it. A taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse. By Jove! I've never seen anything so unreal in my life. [Blood Meridian]
... afterwards he arose and went out -- and the wilderness without a sound took him into its bosom again. [Outer Dark/Child of God]
Then I noticed a small sketch in oils, on a panel, representing a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch. [No Country For Old Men/The Road]
... they were all waiting ... the only thing that ever came to them was disease -- as far as I could see.
'He is a prodigy,' he said at last. 'He is an emissary of pity and science and progress, and devil knows what else. [Blood Meridian]
Pitiless, pitiless. That's the only way. This will prevent all conflagrations for the future. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian]
... the forest stood up spectrally in the moonlight ... [Outer Dark]
I knew once a Scotch sailmaker who was certain, dead sure, there were people in Mars. ... If you as much as smiled, he would -- though a man of sixty -- offer to fight you.
It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream ... [Outer Dark]
... he judged it necessary to inform me he feared neither God nor devil, let alone any mere man.
They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.
To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe. [Blood Meridian]
Look at the influence that man must have. Is it not frightful?' They both agreed it was frightful ... [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian]
'get him hanged! Why not? Anything -- anything can be done in this country. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian]
Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian]
... till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once -- somewhere -- far away -- in another existence perhaps. There were moments when one's past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare for yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence. And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian]
They were men one could work with, and I am grateful to them. And, after all, they did not eat each other before my face ... [The Road]
We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian/The Road]
The earth seemed unearthly. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian/The Road]
It was unearthly, and the men were -- No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it -- this suspicion of their not being inhuman. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian]
... we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not understand, because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of the first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign -- and no memories. [Outer Dark/Blood Meridian]
... a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you -- you so remote from the night of first ages -- could comprehend. And why not? The mind of man is capable of anything -- because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future. What was there after all? Joy, fear, sorrow, devotion, valour, rage -- who can tell? -- but truth -- truth stripped of its cloak of time.
'Catch 'im,' he snapped, with a bloodshot widening of his eyes and a flash of sharp teeth -- 'catch 'im. Give 'im to us.' 'To you, eh?' I asked; 'what would you do with them?' 'Eat 'im!' he said curtly, and, leaning his elbow on the rail, looked out into the fog in a dignified and profoundly pensive attitude. I would no doubt have been properly horrified, had it not occurred to me that he and his chaps must be very hungry ... [Outer Dark]
... my shoes were full; a pool of blood lay very still, gleaming dark red under the wheel ... To tell the truth, I was morbidly anxious to change my shoes and socks. 'He is dead,' murmured the fellow, immensely impressed. 'No doubt about it,' said I.... [No Country For Old Men]