This article offers a new interpretation of McCarthy's Blood Meridian, reading the novel on the basis of the appeal to ideas of craftsmanship and manual labor that explicitly characterizes much of McCarthy's wider writing. It argues that the attraction to the life-world of manual work signals the presence of a substantial aesthetic philosophy within McCarthy's textual practice (marked in particular by a deeply Heideggerian approach to language) and that Blood Meridian constitutes one of the most fully developed articulations of this philosophy in his canon. Within this framework the novel's Oedipal structure is then approached on the basis of the confrontation between the worker and the intellectual, highlighting the significance of the kid's status as a frustrated or misdirected worker and his subsequent struggles against the authority of successive intellectuals cast in the paternal role. In particular, an extended reading of Judge Holden is proposed in this context. The judge is seen as the focal point for the projection of the anxieties and tensions that McCarthy invests in the position of the intellectual, with particular emphasis placed on the transcendence of the judge's discourse that occurs in Blood Meridian's epilogue and the explicit re-emergence of manual labor that it articulates.

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