Cormac McCarthy

A complexity theory of literature

By Lydia R. Cooper

Cormac McCarthy
Hardcover +
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526148582
  • Publish Date: Jul 2021
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Paperback +
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526172051
  • Publish Date: Jun 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
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  • ISBN: 9781526148575
  • Publish Date: Jun 2021
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information


    Combining the fields of evolutionary economics and the humanities, this book examines McCarthy's literary works as a significant case study demonstrating our need to recognise the interrelated complexities of economic policies, environmental crises, and how public policy and rhetoric shapes our value systems. In a world recovering from global economic crisis and poised on the brink of another, studying the methods by which literature interrogates narratives of inevitability around global economic inequality and eco-disaster is ever more relevant.


    'In her foundational study of McCarthy's engagement with complex adaptive systems, Cooper gracefully assimilates historical, economic, environmental, and complexity studies, archival documents, and previous scholarship to explore McCarthy's cultural critique of the intersecting American systems of twentieth- and twenty-first-century economic imperialism, consumer capitalism, and criminal justice, and the disruption of complex ecological systems. Turning from problems to solutions in her later chapters, she shows how McCarthy's works advance an ethic of care for humans, animals, and the environment, and she examines the roles that storytelling and nomadism can play in promoting such an ethic. Wide-ranging and rich in new insights, this book impresses with its confident perception of the overarching values that unify McCarthy's body of work.'
    Dianne Luce, author of Reading the World: Cormac McCarthy's Tennessee Period

    'Lydia Cooper brilliantly reads McCarthy's peripatetic novels to reveal a single focused vision, one that exposes the predations of capitalist excess against a fragile ecological balance. McCarthy's very syntax and style, in all its experimental variations, everywhere fixes our gaze on what has been lost (or soon will be). In turn, Cooper's triumph lies in her own ambulatory reading of fictional cars and horses, animate landscapes and insensible figures, Gothic loomings, climate crises, and food webs. One cannot help but leave this book eager to return to a McCarthy seen entirely anew.'
    Lee Clark Mitchell, Holmes Professor of Belles-Lettres, Princeton University

    'Cormac McCarthy: A Complexity Theory of Literature is a brilliant, elegant, and incisive inquiry into the scientific and philosophical ideas that inform McCarthy's work. Rich with social and political implications in the realm of environmentalism and ecocriticism, the volume moves beyond general themes to advance McCarthy as both prophet and commentator, making his work relevant to a host of perennial and contemporary issues and concerns.'
    Steven Frye, Professor and Chair of English, California State University, Bakersfield

    'With this timely and fascinating book, Lydia Cooper draws together the three most recent and robust points of interest in McCarthy studies - economics, environmentalism, and complexity theory - an intersection of topics that is broadly applicable in our contemporary world as well.'
    Stacey Peebles, Marlene and David Grissom Professor of Humanities, Associate Professor of English at Centre College


    1. Cars, Trucks, and Horses. Man in the Age of the Machine
    2. War and the Wanderer. Epic Violence, Biblical Morality, and the Rise of Empire in Blood Meridian
    3. Professionals. Late Capitalism and the Illegal Drug Trade in No Country for Old Men and The Counselor
    4. Prophets. Imagining the End of the Anthropocene in The Road
    5. Pilgrims. Nomadism and the Making and Unmaking of the World in The Border Trilogy
    6. Death and the Poet. Suttree and Art that Sustains


    Lydia R. Cooper is Associate Professor of English at Creighton University

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