Cormac McCarthy died of “natural causes” on June 13, 2023, at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as he was about to turn 90. The last literary endeavor on which he had worked at length – the diptych formed by the novels The Passenger and Stella Maris (2022) – thus takes on the dual value of literary epitome and spiritual testament. This work, of great structural and philosophical complexity, has bewildered readers who have approached it in the context of the author’s death. It is not the best place to discover the author, and perhaps only those who have followed McCarthy over the years can appreciate its depth as an intellectual autobiography.
Repeatedly put forward by the media for the Nobel Prize in Literature, McCarthy instead distinguished himself by secrecy and extreme reluctance to grant interviews, increasing around him a certain legendary aura. He achieved success only in his fifth novel, thanks to the passionate endorsement of critics such as Harold Bloom, followed by the Pulitzer Prize for The Road, almost a Gospel of the Third Millennium.
The joint acclaim of critics and readers is justified by his ability to take up and revitalize, in the context of postmodernity, well-defined literary genres, including pop, western, river adventure, on-the-road, the picaresque, the noir, and dystopian writing, endowing them with a disruptive metaphysical tension that takes to its extreme limits the novel-form, without, however, renouncing his taste for storytelling.