We interrupt this broadcast with a brief word from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

The “Setting Scene” post for A Handmaid’s Tale is in the works (winged bonnet construction delays, ya feel me?).  However, the next text on deck is even more chock-full of grim dystopian fun, this time post-apocalyptic (though it’s not technically on my MFA reading list—-a throwback, if you will).

While past texts lent themselves nicely to food inspiration, gourmet de Road would be limited to expired canned goods or baby-on-a-stick.  Mmmmm.  I went directly to plan B on this one.  Because the world is ending in this novel, and with it what’s left of humanity, I decided to focus on artwork. After all, what do we study of civilizations past? What better than the arts to depict humans as evolved—-different from beast?

Below I’ve paired famous paintings inspired by scenes or themes from the text.

“There was a lake a mile from his uncle’s farm where he and his uncle used to go in the fall for firewood.  He sat in the back of the rowboat trailing his hand in the cold wake while his uncle bent to the oars…This was the perfect day of his childhood.  This the day to shape the days upon.”

rowboat on the seine, monet

“Rowboat on the Seine,” by Monet

Image taken from here.

The next passage could possibly be interpreted as a tower/library of babel reference, hence the accompanying painting.

“Years later he’d stood in the charred ruins of a library where blackened books lay in pools of water. Shelves tipped over. Some rage at the lies arranged in their thousands row on row. He picked up one of the books and thumbed through the heavy bloated pages. He’d not have thought the value of the smallest thing predicated on a world to come. It surprised him. That the space which these things occupied was itself an expectation. He let the book fall and took a last look around and made his way out into the cold gray light.”


“Tower of Babel,” by Brueghel

Image taken from here.

The next piece is about as literal as a literal interpretation can get—-it says carrying fire, here is a painting of carrying fire.  But if the Promethean shoe fits…

“We wouldnt ever eat anybody, would we?
 No. Of course not.
 Even if we were starving?
We’re starving now.
You said we werent.
 I said we werent dying. I didnt say we werent starving.
But we wouldnt.

No. We wouldnt.
No matter what.
 No. No matter what.
 Because we’re the good guys.
 And we’re carrying the fire.
 And we’re carrying the fire. Yes.

prometheus “Prometheus Brings Fire to Mankind,” by Füger

Image taken from here.

The final piece is not one of my favorites (I mean, that baby is ripped, the feet all look gnarly, and amidst all the nakedness there is a noticeable absence of a thing or two), but is an apt representation of the struggle to remain good, and the man’s vigilant efforts to keep his son from harm.  The white eyes of the evil angel are also reminiscent of the cave-beast in the text: on the hunt.

“He sat there cowled in the blanket. After a while he looked up. Are we still the good guys? he said.
Yes. We’re still the good guys.
And we always will be.
Yes. We always will be.”

The Good and Evil Angels 1795/?c.1805 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1939 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05057

“The Good and Evil Angels,” by William Blake

Image taken from here.

Now… aren’t you glad we didn’t barbecue babies?


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