n Stilet : Tydskrif van die Afrikaanse Letterkundevereniging - Die groteske liggaam in die uitbeelding van geweld in Blood Meridian deur Cormac McCarthy en Buys deur Willem Anker

Volume 30 Number 1-2
  • ISSN : 1013-4573


In this article a comparative analysis of Willem Anker’s Buys: ʼn Grensroman (2014) and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West (1985) is undertaken. The focus is specifically on the two writers’ utilisation of images of the grotesque body in the graphic representation of violence in the two novels. Terry Eagleton’s interpretation of Fredric Jameson’s view, developed from Kenneth Burke's insights, of the literary text as a strategic reaction to a given situation, or context, is the broad framework within which the novels are analysed. Hence the novels are approached with due consideration to the violent contexts within which they were penned, namely America in the aftermath of the Vietnam War in Blood Meridian’s case and the violence-ridden postcolonial South Africa in Buys’s case. The theory of the carnivalesque as developed by Mikhail Bakhtin in Rabelais and His World (1984) serves as general theoretical point of departure, while Steven Frye’s article “Blood Meridian and the Poetics of Violence” (2013) serves more specifically as theoretical approach for the investigation into the role of images of the grotesque body in the graphic representation of violence in the two novels. Using Frye’s interpretation of the carnivalesque as an aesthetic strategy with a moral purpose as a point of departure, several examples from both novels are analysed to show how images of the grotesque body in graphic representations of violence in Blood Meridian and Buys brings about the aestheticisation of that violence. The article concludes that the utilisation of carnivalesque imagery in scenes of graphic violence in Blood Meridian and Buys is an aesthetic strategy whereby readers experience those historic atrocities as if they witnessed it themselves. This heightens readers’ consciousness of the historical reality of moral transgression – a function performed by the original Medieval carnival – and calls attention to the fact that the violence demands an ethical response.

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