Why Judge Holden is One of Literature’s Greatest Villains

Great piece on a great character.

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In the long list of literary villains, Judge Holden, from Cormac McCarthy’s 1985 novel Blood Meridian, is among the most memorable. In this post derived from his article in our Postgraduate English journal, Ronan Hatfull explains how Judge Holden embodies the best (or worst) of antiheroes from literary and cinematic tradition.

At the start of your article, you quote a critic who suggests that ‘McCarthy’s diabolic Judge has the demerit of earning a place at the table with literature’s most mischievous malefactors’. For people not familiar with the novel, who is Judge Holden and what’s so bad about him?

Judge Holden is the principal antagonist of Blood Meridian. One of the most frightening things about him is his physical appearance: he is bald, well over six-foot and hairless.

Although few of his crimes are ever directly witnessed by characters in the novel, McCarthy heavily alludes to Holden being a paedophile…

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