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The Virginian

The Virginian by Owen Wister
By: (1860-1938)

Ostensibly a love story, the novel really revolves around a highly mythologized version of the Johnson County War in 1890’s Wyoming … The novel takes the side of the large ranchers, and depicts the lynchings as frontier justice, meted out by the protagonist, who is a member of a natural aristocracy among men.

First Page:

THE VIRGINIAN

A Horseman Of The Plains

By Owen Wister

To THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Some of these pages you have seen, some you have praised, one stands new written because you blamed it; and all, my dear critic, beg leave to remind you of their author's changeless admiration.

TO THE READER

Certain of the newspapers, when this book was first announced, made a mistake most natural upon seeing the sub title as it then stood, A TALE OF SUNDRY ADVENTURES. "This sounds like a historical novel," said one of them, meaning (I take it) a colonial romance. As it now stands, the title will scarce lead to such interpretation; yet none the less is this book historical quite as much so as any colonial romance. Indeed, when you look at the root of the matter, it is a colonial romance. For Wyoming between 1874 and 1890 was a colony as wild as was Virginia one hundred years earlier. As wild, with a scantier population, and the same primitive joys and dangers. There were, to be sure, not so many Chippendale settees.

We know quite well the common understanding of the term "historical novel... Continue reading book >>


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