"Your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistable. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time"
Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry (October 30, 1871 – July 20, 1945)
Public DomainAmbroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry (October 30, 1871 – July 20, 1945) - Credit: Joseph Kessel par Pierre Choumoff

Blood Meridian's first epigraph is taken from 'The Yalu,' a 1895 essay inspired by the events of the First Sino-Japanese War written by the French poet, essayist, and philosopher Paul Valéry. The words of the epigraph are spoken to a European Valéry persona by a Chinese companion regarding differences between Eastern and Western concepts of order and disorder.

In an essay entitled 'Paul Valéry’s Blood Meridian, Or How the Reader became a Writer', Todd Cronan explores Valéry's 'aesthetic of blood,' and throws some light on McCarthy's reasons for including the French writer's words as one of Blood Meridian's epigraphs.

Click here to read Cronan's essay.