A West Virginia University graduate student will soon have another published piece to add to his collection.
Jeff Yeager, a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at West Virginia University will have his essay, “Just Remember that the Things You Put into your Head are There Forever’: The Influence of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road on the PlayStation Game ‘The Last of Us’” included in a new collection published by the Cormac McCarthy Society.
The nonprofit organization’s collection, “Carrying the Fire: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Apocalyptic Tradition” is an anthology of essays that contribute to the appreciation of the American novelist’s works.
Released in 2013 to widespread critical acclaim, The Last of Us is an action-adventure survival horror game that centers on a man escorting a young orphan across a post-apocalyptic United States.
“I think the Last of Us stands out because its narrative expands the boundaries of what we call literature,” Yeager said. Many scholars, he added, have dismissed video games as forms of art because many lack strong narratives and developed characters, or feature too many fantastical elements.
“The Last of Us is special then because it features a fairly realistic post-apocalyptic setting and puts the player on a serious drama reminiscent of books from writers like Cormac McCarthy,” he said
McCarthy’s 2006 novel, “The Road” is a post-apocalyptic tale of a journey a father and his young son take after an unspecified disaster has destroyed most life on Earth.
Besides both taking place in post-apocalyptic worlds, there are other similarities. The influence the novel had on the game is apparent.
As Yeager writes, “The most important connection (between the book and the game) centers on the dynamic between a father who lived prior to the apocalypse and his interaction with a child who has developed ideological fantasies about what life was like before civilization fell.”
Although the themes are dark, Yeager said both expertly offer hints of optimism through nature.
“That’s where Cormac McCarthy’s genius comes in, said Yeager. “The fact that he can paint such a helpless portrait of humanity, but at the same time, leaves you with something to hold on to. That’s carrying the fire.”
Yeager plans to teach using the novel next semester in his class English 258: Popular American Culture this fall.
McCarthy, who won a Pulitzer Prize for “The Road,” has written 10 novels. His novels “All the Pretty Horses, “The Road,” “Child of God,” and “No Country for Old Men” have all been adapted as motion pictures.
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