The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


Frontier Metamorphoses: Americanization and Otherness

Manuel Broncano (University of León, Spain)
The Southwest as Allegory: Blood Meridian and the Frontier Grotesque

The working hypothesis of my paper is that the American Southwest and the West are regions where "normalcy" does not rule, and any literary recreation of those regions must necessarily reflect the "deformity" of the human and physical landscape, and thus enter the realm of the grotesque. In Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove (1985), we read a passage that clearly points in that direction. Elmira, the prostitute of the Texan settlement of Lonesome Dove who has embarked on a journey to the north in search of a former lover, finds herself in the company of buffalo hunters, primitive men who survive on chasing beasts and who smell like them: "None of you are quite normal [Elmira thought] and I must not be either, or I would not be here" (LD 313). This is the great fact of the American frontier, a land that escapes the narrow worldview of Western rationalism and becomes a self-contained cosmos where mankind is returned to the early stages of human evolution. It is my purpose to illustrate this hypothesis through the analysis of Cormac MacCarthy's Blood Meridian, a novel that represents a turning point in contemporary recreations of frontier America.