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The Genre of “No Country for Old Men”: A Mixture of Many Genres

Jan 23, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jan 23, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Introduction

“No Country for Old Men” Is a western film of 2007 that was written, edited and directed by Ethan Coen and Joel based on the novel of “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy. The book tells of a story of a man who gets an opportunity of delivering a fortune that does not belong to him. The study entails cat and mouse kind of drama as the path of the three main characters in the desert intertwine in west Texas. This paper will propose and discuss its own argument as to which genre (s) it believe s “No Country for Old Men” should be placed based upon the rhetorical choices of the author. The paper believes that the book of “No Country for Old Men” does not belong to one particular genre and is made up of a mixture of many genres.

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From many reviewers of “No Country for Old Men, “it is evident that the novel is characterized by mixture of genres. The sharpest critics of “No Country for Old Men” authored by Cormac McCarthy are carol Oates, James Wood and William Deresiewicz. In his criticism, Deresiewicz contends that the cinematic and streamlined plot of the novel seems as a modelled and a calculated readers assault (Deresiewicz 38-40). Similarly, Wood criticizes the novel sharply as metaphysically cheap and a “genre guff” (93). On the other hand, Oates dismissed the novel by describing it as a “meretricious thriller” (Oates 44). However, the author is also supported by other reviewers on his work. According to Hodge, the novel of “No Country for Old Men” Is not a crude genre fiction (66). In his essay in 2006 responding to the sharpest critics to McCarthy, Hodge argues that it is possible that the author could be possibly be having something in his mind that is larger rather than the deceiving entertainment (66). The argument and the assumptions of Hodge disapproves the idea that the novel was another stripped, unimportant down thriller as argued by Wood (88).

However, from the arguments brought forward by Hodge, it is evident that he exceeds his scope of argument. Despite the fact that he brings out the extreme comments made by Deresiewicz, Wood and Oates as well as identify significant thematic links between “No Country for Old Men” and other earlier works done by McCarthy. Moreover, instead of Hodge arguing that the novel of “No Country for Old Men” is not a genre fiction, he argues that the novel is not a meretricious or extreme genre fiction. In brief, Hodge is in agreement that the novel is mimicking the genre fiction conventions. However, he adds that “No Country for Old Men” transcends the trappings of the seedy genre. Additionally, he acknowledges that the novel has also exploited the thriller convention, but opposes that the novel withholds the ultimate genres pure satisfactions (66). From his argument, it is evident that Hodge believes that he can prove that “No Country for Old Men” gives relevance to the genre conventions and protects McCarthy on that charge.

Whether the McCarthy scholars were influenced by the essay written by Hodge or they are simply sharing similar desire of protecting the literary reputation of McCarthy, they have embraced the genre plus argument proposed by Hodge. Moreover, they contend that the novel “No Country for Old Men” is more than a standard fiction genre but something more less that a masterwork. The genre-plus argument proposed by Hodge compared to the positions presented by Deresiewicz, Wood and Oates looks like a pragmatic compromise. The genre-plus argument acknowledges the strong resemblance of the novel to genre fiction, but does not also vilify its author for experimenting on such course materials.

There are some considerable similarity, in fact, between the attitude of Hodge toward “No Country for Old Men” and the positions embraced by Deresiewicz, Wood and Oates. Their similarity is evident when Hodge makes a clearly sharp distinction between “Border Trilogy,” a more celebrated McCarthy’s fiction and the “No Country for Old Men. “Moreover, the trio’s bias is also shared by Hodge from his argument against genre fiction, because of a simple assumption behind the argument of genre-plus that “No Country for Old Men” is a reflective work of genre work. It is of great significance to note that both positions championed by the trio on one hand and Hodge on the other hand fail to address the crucial question put forward by Hodge in his essay. The main question by Hodge was that given the literary positon of McCarthy, his prejudice towards genre works, and his contempt for commercial fashions, why would he write a novel that resembles a standard pulp fiction alarmingly. On one hand, Hodge and his supporters cannot address fully this question since they are focusing on how “No Country for Old Men” transcends genre fiction instead of addressing why it has resemblance to genre fiction from the first instance. On the other hand, the trio are unable to address the question since they are focusing their arguments on excoriating the author for mimicking cheap fictions.

The best approach for analyzing the genre of the novel is by confronting the resemblance of the novel to genre fiction. The legitimate concern from the reactions to the novel, from both hostile and sympathetic readers, suggests an interesting answer to the question posed by Hodge. The function of the resemblance of “No Country for Old Men” to gene fiction is to manipulate and provoke the reader’s moral and aesthetic anxieties about fictions. The paper can sharpen this argument or thesis by making four claims that are interrelated

  1. By embracing agreements of several genres, “No Country for Old Men “prompts its readers and audience to treat it as a genre work and not just as a single literary genre. That is also the position of the paper that the novel incorporates a mixture of several genres
  2. As a result of the characteristic way in which the novel mimics genre fiction, “No Country for Old Men” brings out a strong cultural bias surprisingly against the genre fiction
  3. By the novel eliciting this bias, it pushes the readers to of the novel to articulate particular grounds for their hostile attitude towards the general genre fiction and not “No Country for Old Men” in particular
  4. Lastly, by pushing the readers to explicitly make their tacit bias, “No Country for Old Men” Invites the readers to reconsider their intuitions about the novel and the genre fiction in general.

If in the novel of “No Country for Old Men” call to mind of the readers an assortment of popular genres, and if indeed it is causing a deep cultural bias against genre fiction, then it should be very much evident not only through the negative and extreme reviews by Deresiewicz, Wood and Oates, but also to the reviews that are positive. Fr instance, the positive reviews by Ira Boudway, Patrick Ness and Adam Begley. Each of these authors expressed their admiration for the novel while regarding it as a genre work that is violent, and more specifically as a thriller. For example, Begley is his description termed it as a “bloody, taut thriller,” while Nes referred to it as a “ruthless and sinewy thriller.” On the other hand associates the novel to another violent genre by characterizing it as “a movie ready narrative, a crime novel and that is hard boiled unremittingly and is threatening to burst into steam.” Concurring with Kirn is randy Boyagoda who stated that the “the stoic dialogue, chase, shootouts gives the novel a pulpy texture sometimes and sometimes the prose of the novel can be so heavy with action and intensely visual that it read cinematically” (44).

The cinematic qualities and novels violence is also recognized by Michiko Kakutani but she does not think the novel as a crime novel but as a “hard boiled, new wave western.” Also in agreement is Yvonne Zipp who states that “No Country for Old Men” is a brutal western. However, whereas Kakutani regard the novel as an affair that is lowbrow, she puts the novel in a place of its won by noting that the plot of the novel sounded like an old episode of A-Team. This further complicate the efforts of the paper to pin point the genre of “No Country for Old Men.” Other reviewers such as Adan Jones content that it could be a gangster film playing out in the western locations. Similarly, Sarah Emily Miano and Henry Kisor described the novel as a western thriller with Sarah further stating that “No Country for Old Men “is now a familiar complain that the novel has “all Tarantino flick pulp”

The paper made some observations from the provided sample of moderately reviews that are sympathetic. First, initially it is practically impossible to think the novel as falling under any genre except genre fiction. Particularly the novel strikes its audience and readers that it is a generic novel, that is, a novel that easily fits into several different genres. Moreover, the status of “No Country for Old Men “as a genre fiction attracts sharp criticism the sympathetic reviewers. The reviewers use several words to express their disdain when referring to the unremitting violence of the violence.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the paper analysed the novel of “No Country for Old Men” by McCarthy. From the discussion of the paper, the essay believed that the book does not belong to particular genre and is made up of a mixture of many genres based on the rhetorical choices of the author. Referring do different arguments by authors who were both sympathetic and hostile to the novel, it is evident that “No Country for Old Men” incorporates all forms of genres and it can be described as a generic genre. Other notable genres as portrayed by reviewers include thriller, genre-plus, meretricious thriller among others.

Work cited

Begley, Adam. Rev. of No Country for Old Men. New York Observer. New York Observer, 24 July 2005. Web. 07 August 2015.

Boudway, Ira. Rev. of No Country for Old Men. Salon. Salon, 24 Aug. 2005. Web. 07 August 2015

Boyagoda, Randy. “Tale of the New West: Kicking the Corpses of Postmodern America.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. Weekly Standard 29 Aug. 2005: 44-45.

Deresiewicz, William. “It’s a Man’s Man’s World.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. Nation 12 Sept. 2005: 38-41

Hodge, Roger D. “”Blood and Time.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. Harper’s Yeb. 2006: 65-72.

Kakutani, Michiko. “On the Loose in Badlands: Killer With a Cattle Gun.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. New York Times. New York Times, 18 July 2005. Web. 07 August 2015

Kirn, Walter. “No Country for Old Men: Texas Noir.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. New York Times. New York Times, 24 July 2005. Web. 07 August 2015.

Kisor, Henry. “Night of the Hunter: Cormac McCarthy Rides in With a Dark New Desert Western.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. Chicago Sun Times. Chicago Sun Times, 24 July 2005. Web. 07 August 2015.

Mars-Jones, Adam. “Psycho Dramas.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. The Observer. Guardian, 6 Nov. 2005. Web. 07 August 2015.

McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

Miano, Sara Emily. “Take the Money and Run.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. Times (UK). Times, 5 Nov. 2005. Web. 07 August 2015.

Ness, Patrick. “A Mistaken Act of Kindness.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. Telegraph (UK). Daily Telegraph, 20 Nov. 2005. Web. 07 August 2015.

Oates, Joyce Carol. “The Treasure of Comanche County.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. New York Review of Books 20 Oct. 2005: 41-44.

Wood, James. “Red Planet.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. New Yorker 18 July 2005: 88-93.

Zipp, Yvonne. “A Modern, More Brutal Western.” Rev. of No Country for Old Men. Christian Science Monitor. Christian Science Monitor, 12 July 2005. Web. 07 August 2015.

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