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The last music on earth: prehistory and the function of music in The Road

Dale, Henry (2017) The last music on earth: prehistory and the function of music in The Road. Fields: journal of Huddersfield student research, 3 (1). ISSN 2057-0163

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Abstract

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a novel that has been the subject of much critical success and debate, perhaps to the point of saturation. The Road tells the story of an unnamed man and boy as they travel south in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, empty of nature, life and safety. It is a struggle not only for their survival but also for what remains of, or what is meant by, humanity.

This paper discusses the function of music in The Road based upon the twice-occurring mention of a flute, extrapolating on Randall Wilhelm’s concept of still life in The Road to provide a detailed close reading of this image. The flute is a remnant of the human and humanity, and it is also a link to our prehistoric ancestors. While it may initially appear to be an item of superficial insignificance, this paper will argue that the flute is not only central to understanding the text, but also located structurally within cave imagery present throughout The Road.

Despite the amount of literature already produced on The Road, it remains a prescient work, tapping into contemporary fears of nuclear war or environmental disaster. The Road will not disappear, and this article serves to discuss new territory in the form of the flute and music.

Item Type: Article
Contributors:
ContributionNameEmailORCID
AuthorDale, HenryCaspa.dale@gmail.comUNSPECIFIED
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cormac McCarthy; The Road; still life; Plato; music; prehistory; flute
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Teaching and Learning Institute
Depositing User: Megan Taylor
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2017 10:59
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2017 11:22
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/31342

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