The book was nothing but cliches, and yet it seemed fresh and alive. This surprised me. How was that possible? Then it hit me. Wister invented the cliches. This is where the cliches of the Western came from.
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Every dusty Western town and literary cattle drive since has borrowed something from this book. The narrator of the story is an Easterner who goes west on various trips over a A funny thing happened while I was reading The Virginian. The narrator of the story is an Easterner who goes west on various trips over a period of years, arriving by railroad. How often have you seen that connection between East Coast and Frontier in Western novels and movies?
I can only think of one example, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, also a great classic, perhaps not coincidentally. The narrator steps between the two worlds because Wister did that. The narrator mentions seeing things you wouldn't think of-- a young man heading off on a ride across the desert buying canned peaches so he could drink the sweet juice and enjoy a treat along the way, the dump of rusting junk at the edge of each town-- because Wister saw these things.
Wister was actually there. An easy read, and recommended because of its historical interest, both as an insight into what the Old West was like, and into the origins of one of our enduring literary genres. Jun 17, Ernie rated it really liked it. To think that the western movies, TV shows, space westerns, etc. The impetus to read this book came from listening to Teddy Roosevelt's biography. The west made a big impression on TR and this book and Owen Wister were largely responsible for his, and our, romantic images.
Lots has been written on this. Gun fights. High Noon.
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Dramatic and memorable music. Moral dilemmas did not exist within the code of the west. Good was clear, simple and To think that the western movies, TV shows, space westerns, etc. Good was clear, simple and triumphant.
Evil was also clearly delineated, diabolically, talented and doomed. It also helped that the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. To this day I take time warming up to "cowboys" in black hats. I won't comment further on these well known points.
But there were two aspects of the books that surprised me. The "westerns" and the romance that I grew up with had explicit action. In this book The Indian attack on the Virginian is described only in the aftermath, when Molly finds him wounded and near death. Furthermore, the gunfight at the end of the book is missed if you don't read two sentences carefully.
This is a profound difference from the drama attending western duels on TV and movies. Here, violence and sex take place off the pages. Further to this point, this book is about the land more than the people and their actions: "No hand but nature's had sown these crops of yellow flowers, these willow thickets and tall cottonwoods. Somewere in the passage of red rocks the last sign of wagon wheels was lost, and after this the trail becaem a wild mountain trail.
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But it was still the warm air of the plains, bearing the sage-brush odor and not the pine, that they breathed; nor did the forest yet cloak the shapes of the tawny hills among which they were ascending. People merely inhabit this country. They are a product of this country. We see occasional visitors from the east who may or may not be able to adapt.
Even those who are there are one mistake away from disaster Shorty. It is a beautiful but unforgiving place. The country defines the people. So much of popular literature since has been on this subject or used these themes Was it the Civil War? The War of Southern Rebellion? Were our heros in the last half of the 19th century brave but regional partisans of that war? In that case, did Wister do a great service by drawing our attention away from the myths and tradgedies of that war war as a source of our national identity and projecting it onto new myths and ideals of the west and the cowboy?
Apr 20, Kimberly Barlow Cook rated it it was amazing. A friend told me, before I read this book, that it was one of the most romantic books she had ever read. What did she mean by romantic, I wondered? Was it the Regency swash-buckling, bodice-ripping type, or something more meaningful?
The Virginian; A Horseman of the Plains
My friend was correct. This was, perhaps, the ultimate romantic novel. It skillfully weaves a story of the Adam and Eve type, where man yearns for what he lacks and finds it in the woman who completes him. Having been married for 25 years myself, I have learned and A friend told me, before I read this book, that it was one of the most romantic books she had ever read.
by Wister, Owen
Having been married for 25 years myself, I have learned and come to appreciate the differences between a man and a woman. Watching Miss Wood discover this for herself, as she learns the soul of her Wyoming cowboy suitor, reveals the strength of Adam as created by God. While she doesn't understand his wild ways and his stalwart attention to duty, responsibility, and enforcing justice, she comes to accept her rough cowboy as he is, and does not try to remake him into some female version of what she feels he should be.
Likewise, the Virginian discovers the joy of finding another person to whom he can express the feelings and thoughts he had locked deep inside himself. The reader discovers, through the Virginian's act of baring his most private thoughts and sharing them with his chosen mate, that this is the most intimate act of marriage. Likewise, Miss Wood's trusting in the goodness of her cowboy's nature, even when she does not understand his reasons, models the strength of the Christian marriage: one does not trust the person so much as one trusts the strength of God in a person's life, which creates a trust circumstances cannot affect.
There is no need to share the intimate details of this couple's physical relationship to make this a romantic tale--this is done through the development of their trust and understanding of one another. Romance writers would do well to follow this model, which subtly leads the reader through the development of the most intimate part of a relationship--the development of understanding, trust, and appreciation between two opposing natures.
On another level, I appreciated the writer's ability to paint setting and characters through a minimal use of words. The writer is a master of "show don't tell," which I find gratifying, since it gives me the pleasure of feeling I have been led gently down the path of reaching my own insightful conclusions.
The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister | LibraryThing
I enjoy encountering a writer or friend who makes me feel, as I correctly draw my conclusions from the hints provided, that we understand one another while others in the room may not. Shelves: ultimate-reading-list , fiction , popular-fiction , westerns , historical-fiction , novels , romance. This book, published in , has been hailed as the first Western. The Virginian of the novel is the forefather of Hondo and Shane and every other strong but silent cowboy found in films. Here's a snippet: The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed.