Back to top

Books Are Made of Books

Books Are Made of Books
A Guide to Cormac McCarthy's Literary Influences

This groundbreaking exploration of Cormac McCarthy’s literary archive draws on his own extensive notes to identify nearly 150 writers and thinkers whose work has influenced this Pulitzer Prize–winning author.

September 2017
Add to cart
356 pages | 6 x 9 |

Cormac McCarthy told an interviewer for the New York Times Magazine that “books are made out of books,” but he has been famously unwilling to discuss how his own writing draws on the works of other writers. Yet his novels and plays masterfully appropriate and allude to an extensive range of literary works, demonstrating that McCarthy is well aware of literary tradition, respectful of the canon, and deliberately situating himself in a knowing relationship to precursors.

The Wittliff Collection at Texas State University acquired McCarthy’s literary archive in 2007. In Books Are Made Out of Books, Michael Lynn Crews thoroughly mines the archive to identify nearly 150 writers and thinkers that McCarthy himself references in early drafts, marginalia, notes, and correspondence. Crews organizes the references into chapters devoted to McCarthy’s published works, the unpublished screenplay Whales and Men, and McCarthy’s correspondence. For each work, Crews identifies the authors, artists, or other cultural figures that McCarthy references; gives the source of the reference in McCarthy’s papers; provides context for the reference as it appears in the archives; and explains the significance of the reference to the novel or play that McCarthy was working on. This groundbreaking exploration of McCarthy’s literary influences—impossible to undertake before the opening of the archive—vastly expands our understanding of how one of America’s foremost authors has engaged with the ideas, images, metaphors, and language of other thinkers and made them his own.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Introduction: Books Out of Books
    • T Is for Texas, T Is for Tennessee: Cormac McCarthy’s Literary Journey
    • The Wittliff Collection
    • Literary Influence and the Novels of Cormac McCarth  
  • Chapter 2. The Orchard Keeper
    • Faulkner, William (1897–1962) [See also The Stonemason]
    • Frost, Robert (1874–1963) [See also The Road]
    • Hawthorne, Nathaniel (1804–1864  
  • Chapter 3. Outer Dark
    • Camus, Albert (1913–1960) [See also Whales and Men 
  • Chapter 4. Child of God
    • Hitchcock, Alfred (1899–1980)
  • Chapter 5. The Gardener’s Son
    • Bealer, Alex (1921–1980)
    • Christian, William (b. 1944)
    • Dawley, Thomas Robinson (1862–1930)
    • Ginsberg, Allen (1926–1997)
    • Gurdjieff, George (1866–1949)
    • Huxley, Aldous (1894–1963)
    • Joyce, James (1882–1941) [See also Suttree; in addition, see entries for Joseph Gerard Brennan and Peter De Vries in Suttree]
    • McLaurin, Melton Alonza (b. 1941)
    • Rapoport, Amos (b. 1929 
  • Chapter 6. Suttree
    • Abbey, Edward (1927–1989)
    • Agee, James (1909–1955)
    • Algren, Nelson (1909–1981)
    • Bellow, Saul (1915–2005)
    • Beowulf (ca. eighth century) [See also Blood Meridian]
    • Brennan, Joseph Gerard (1910–2004)
    • Brown, Christy (1932–1981)
    • Cooke, Ebenezer (ca. 1667–ca. 1732)
    • Dante Alighieri (1265–1321)
    • Davidson, Donald (1893–1968)
    • De Vries, Peter (1910–1993)
    • Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns) (1888–1965) [See also The Road]
    • Ericson, Eric B. (dates unknown), and Goesta Wollin (1912–1995)
    • Farrell, James T. (1904–1979)
    • Flaubert, Gustave (1821–1880)
    • Foucault, Michel (1926–1984)
    • Graves, Robert (1895–1985)
    • Hoagland, Edward (b. 1932)
    • Hunting in the Old South: Original Narratives of the Hunters (1967)
    • Joyce, James (1882–1941) [See also The Gardener’s Son; in addition, see entries for Joseph Gerard Brennan and Peter De Vries in this chapter]
    • Jung, Carl Gustav (1875–1961) [See also entry for Tabula Smaragdina in this chapter]
    • Koestler, Arthur (1905–1983)
    • Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi di (1896–1957)
    • Lewis, Wyndham (1882–1957)
    • Lissner, Ivar (1909–1967)
    • Mailer, Norman (1923–2007)
    • The Malleus Maleficarum (1487)
    • Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State (1940)
    • Massinger, Philip (1583–1640)
    • Melville, Herman (1818–1891) [See also The Stonemason and Whales and Men]
    • Miller, Henry (1891–1980) [See also Correspondence]
    • Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de (1533–1592) [See also Whales and Men] 000
    • Nordau, Max (1849–1923)
    • Pater, Walter (1839–1894)
    • Poe, Edgar Allan (1809–1849)
    • Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) [See also Blood Meridian and The Road]
    • Spengler, Oswald (1880–1936) [See also The Road; in addition, see entry for Wyndham Lewis in Suttree]
    • Steele, Wilbur Daniel (1886–1970)
    • Steinbeck, John (1902–1968)
    • Stephenson, Carl (1893–1954)
    • Tabula Smaragdina [See also entry for Carl Gustav Jung in this chapter]
    • Thompson, Francis (1859–1907)
    • Trumbo, Dalton (1905–1976)
    • West, Nathanael (1903–1940)
    • Weston, Jessie L. (1850–1928)
    • Wolfe, Thomas (1900–1938)
    • Xenophanes (ca. 570–ca. 478 BCE) [See also Heraclitus in Blood Meridian]
  • Chapter 7. Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West
    • Beowulf (ca. eighth century) [See also Suttree]
    • Boehme, Jacob (1575–1624) [See also Eugen Herrigel in this chapter]
    • Celine, Louis-Ferdinand (1894–1961)
    • Chaucer, Geoffrey (1343–1400)
    • Collinson, Frank (1855–1943)
    • Conrad, Joseph (1857–1924)
    • Dillard, Annie (b. 1945)
    • Dobie, J. Frank (1888–1964)
    • Doughty, Charles Montagu (1843–1926)
    • Durant, Will (1885–1981)
    • Fraser, Julius Thomas (1923–2010)
    • Gard, Wayne (1899–1986)
    • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749–1832)
    • Heller, Joseph (1923–1999)
    • Heraclitus (ca. 535–ca. 475 BCE)
    • Herrigel, Eugen (1884–1955) [See also Jacob Boehme in this chapter]
    • James, William (1842–1910)
    • Kierkegaard, Søren (1813–1855)
    • Kinnell, Galway (1927–2014)
    • Krutch, Joseph Wood (1893–1970)
    • McGinniss, Joe (1942–2014)
    • Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844–1900)
    • O’Brien, Tim (b. 1946)
    • O’Connor, Mary Flannery (1925–1964)
    • Pirsig, Robert M. (b. 1928) [See also The Road]
    • Salinger, J. D. (Jerome David) (1919–2010)
    • Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) [See also Suttree and The Road]
    • Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950)
    • Tolstoy, Leo (1828–1910)
    • Valéry, Paul (1871–1945)
    • Whitehead, Alfred North (1861–1947)
    • Wolfe, Tom (b. 1931)
  • Chapter 8. The Stonemason
    • Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106–43 BCE)
    • Faulkner, William (1897–1962) [See also The Orchard Keeper]
    • Frankl, Paul (1878–1962)
    • Gaines, Ernest J. (b. 1933)
    • Galsworthy, John (1867–1933)
    • Genovese, Eugene (1930–2012)
    • Gould, Robert Freke (1836–1915)
    • Herbert, Edward (1583–1648)
    • Langley, Batty (1696–1751)
    • Lesy, Michael (b. 1945)
    • Melville, Herman (1819–1891) [See also Suttree and Whales and Men]
    • Northrop, Filmer Stuart Cuckow (1893–1992)
    • Rilke, Rainer Maria (1875–1926)
    • Rosengarten, Theodore (b. 1944)
    • Rykwert, Joseph (b. 1926)
  • Chapter 9. The Crossing
    • Gandia, Manuel Zeno (1855–1930)
    • Leopold, Aldo (1887–1948)
  • Chapter 10. Cities of the Plain
    • Artemidorus (second century CE)
    • Bell, John Stewart (1928–1990)
    • Kanner, Leo (1894–1981)
    • Thorndike, Lynn (1882–1965)
    • Williams, James Robert (1888–1957)
  • Chapter 11. The Road
    • Beckett, Samuel (1906–1989)
    • Defoe, Daniel (1660–1731)
    • Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns) (1888–1965) [See also Suttree]
    • Frost, Robert (1874–1963) [See also The Orchard Keeper]
    • Kierkegaard, Søren (1813–1855) [See also Blood Meridian]
    • London, Jack (1876–1916)
    • Markson, David (1927–2010)
    • Martin, Paul
    • Ovsyanikov, Nikita
    • Pagels, Heinz (1939–1988)
    • Pirsig, Robert M. (b. 1928) [See also Blood Meridian]
    • Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) [See also Suttree and Blood Meridian]
    • Twain, Mark (Samuel Langhorne Clemens--1835–1910)
  • Chapter 12. Whales and Men
    • Arendt, Hannah (1906–1975)
    • Augustine of Hippo (354–430)
    • Beston, Henry (1888–1968)
    • Borges, Jorge Luis (1899–1986)
    • Camus, Albert (1913–1960) [See also Outer Dark]
    • Cervantes, Miguel de (1547–1616)
    • Dyson, Freeman (b. 1923)
    • Hemingway, Ernest (1899–1961)
    • Hoffer, Eric (1898–1983)
    • Hyde, Douglas (1860–1949)
    • Jeffers, Robinson (1887–1962)
    • Lopez, Barry Holstun (b. 1945)
    • Melville, Herman (1819–1891) [See also Suttree and The Stonemason]
    • Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de (1533–1592) [See also Suttree]
    • Moore, George Augustus (1852–1933)
    • Mowat, Farley (1921–2014)
    • Pound, Ezra (1885–1972)
    • Taylor, Gordon Rattray (1911–1981)
    • Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1881–1955)
    • Thomas, Dylan (1914–1953)
    • Yeats, William Butler (1865–1939)
  • Chapter 13. Correspondence
    • Brinnin, John Malcolm (1916–1998)
    • Byron, George Gordon, Lord (1788–1824)
    • Chatwin, Bruce (1940–1989)
    • Clarke, Arthur C. (1917–2008)
    • Davenport, Guy (1927–2005)
    • Graves, John (b. 1920)
    • Hansen, Ron (b. 1947)
    • Hardy, Thomas (1840–1928)
    • Kundera, Milan (b. 1929)
    • Leone, Sergio (1929–1989)
    • Lowry, Malcolm (1909–1957)
    • McGuane, Thomas (b. 1939)
    • Miller, Henry (1891–1980) [See also Suttree]
    • Ondaatje, Michael (b. 1943)
    • Scarry, Elaine (b. 1946)
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index 

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Crews is an assistant professor of English at Regent University. He specializes in American and contemporary literature.


“A rich and meticulous study…Crews's depth will underline the importance of Cormac McCarthy's place in American and world literature.”
Resources for American Literary Study

“A marvelous and essential tool for McCarthy scholarship. It is remarkable for the completeness of its sources, its meticulous scholarly research, and its accessibility...Books Are Made Out of Books will facilitate exciting future scholarship on McCarthy's work.”
Western American Literature

“Comprehensive and enlightening. ”
Times Literary Supplement

“Michael Crews has performed a great service in writing his thoughtful and carefully researched Books Are Made Out of Books…McCarthy scholars will certainly admire Crews's intrepidness and thoroughness and will be delighted to have found a book we have really needed.”
The Cormac McCarthy Journal

“When invited over to a friend's place for the first time, I love to browse my host's bookshelves, mainly in the hope of discovering some new or obscure author to read myself. This is a bit what reading Books Are Made Out of Books is like, and why I found it such a pleasure to read...This book was as engaging as it was informative, and I recommend Books Are Made Out of Books to anyone interested in the 'strange tomes' of such a fascinating writer.”
Publishing Research Quarterly

“Crews's highly readable and meticulously compiled reference book will prove a useful tool for McCarthy scholars—not merely in terms of mapping the sources of McCarthy's intellectual content and rhetorical procedures, but also in fostering a more nuanced view of his postmodern techniques of pastiche, pasting and appropriation.”
Forum for Modern Language Studies

“A necessary addition to any serious McCarthy scholar's library…Crews not only demonstrates the value of the McCarthy papers for opening up new lines of enquiry in literary criticism, but also uses detailed archival research to create a substantial picture of the variety of works and authors that have informed most of this major novelist's work.”
This Year's Work in English Studies

“This compendium of Cormac McCarthy’s sources is remarkably complete. Any student of one of the great living American novelists would benefit immensely from having this volume. I particularly admire the rich gathering of background for the masterpiece Blood Meridian.”
Harold Bloom, author of Falstaff: Give Me Life

“series editor of the Cormac McCarthy Casebook Series and editor of Myth, Legend, Dust: Critical Responses to Cormac McCarthy, as well as the two-volume Sacred Violence
Rick Wallach, series editor of the Cormac McCarthy Casebook Series and editor of Myth, Legend, Dust: Critical Responses to Cormac McCarthy, as well as the two-volume Sacred Violence

“A fantastic tool for McCarthy scholars. If Sepich’s Notes on “Blood Meridian” has become the compendium necessary to the scholarly study of Blood Meridian, this book is clearly pitched as the compendium to the literary influences of McCarthy. It will provide a provocative jumping-off point for much relevant and exciting future scholarship.”
Lydia R. Cooper, Creighton University, author of No More Heroes: Narrative Perspective and Morality in Cormac McCarthy


Available for Kindle
Available on Google Play
Available on Kobo
Available for Nook
Available on the Apple Store

This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca