Cormac McCarthy’s 17th Century Vocabulary

By Jason Boog Comment

While reading Cormac McCarthy‘s stark and post-apocalyptic novel The Road, blogger Barry Weber couldn’t find a definition for the word “salitter” from the book.

Weber did more research into McCarthy’s cosmic vocabulary, and discovered the word buried in a 17th Century mystical text. What’s the most exotic word you ever discovered in a novel?

Here’s more from the post: “Salitter seems only to have occurred, used in this way, in the writings of Jakob Boehme, a 17th century German Christian mystic. Here is enough of what he says about it, to begin to understand the exquisite choice made by McCarthy in using the word: ‘What is in Paradise is made of the celestial Salitter… [it] is clear, resplendent … The forces of the celestial Salitter give rise to celestial fruits flowers, and vegetation.’ Salitter, as used by Boehme, as used by McCarthy, is the essence of God.”

The post has generated hundreds of comments on Reddit, and many users have pointed out that the author quoted Boehme in the epigraph of Blood Meridian: “It is not to be thought that the life of darkness is sunk in misery and lost as if in sorrowing. There is no sorrowing. For sorrow is a thing that is swallowed up in death, and death and dying are the very life of the darkness.”

Follow this link to read a literary essay about Blood Meridian.