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The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by…
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The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains (1902)

by Owen Wister

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,114197,365 (3.91)1 / 96
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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I think I have to put this down for a while. I'm not able to concentrate right now and although there are some beautifully written parts, I'm having trouble getting into the story.
  emmytuck | Sep 27, 2013 |
“The Virginian’s pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: ‘When you call me that, smile.’ And he looked at Trampas across the table.” This novel, the first true western that paved the way for other famous authors such as Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour, covers a span of five years and chronicles the acquaintance of the unnamed author/narrator with a strong, silent stranger known only as “The Virginian,” a young man in his twenties who works on Judge Henry’s Shiloh Ranch at Sunk Creek in the Wyoming territory.
The account begins when the narrator arrives in Medicine Bow, WY, around 1886, to visit Judge Henry and the Virginian is sent to escort him to Shiloh. During the succeeding years, the Virginian, who was born in old Virginia but had left home at age fourteen and come west, woos the pretty Miss Molly Stark Wood, who comes from Bennington, VT, to be the school teacher at Bear Creek, WY; is made foreman at Shiloh Ranch; and must deal with an ongoing enemy named Trampas, a roving cowboy who works for a while at Shiloh then turns to rustling. Will the Virginian win Miss Wood’s affection? What will happen to Trampas? When I was young and still living at home, I remember seeing a television show also entitled The Virginian (1962-1971), based on characters from this novel. It starred James Drury as the Virginian, Doug McClure as Trampas, and Lee J. Cobb as the Judge. However, the television series bore little resemblance to the plot of the book.
The Virginian is an interesting story in which several subplots develop over time. There are numerous references to smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, gambling, and dancing. In addition to several instances in which “curses,” “oaths,” and “profanities” are mentioned, the “d” and “h” words occur a few times and the Lord’s name is occasionally taken in vain. The phrase “son of a -----“ is used as quoted (not spelled out). In fact, this is what Trampas had called the Virginian when the latter responded, “When you call me that, smile.” The nearly equivalent term “ba*t*ard” is found once (completely spelled out). Nathaniel Bluedorn recommended the book in Hand that Rocks the Cradle: 400 Classic Books for Children, but I would urge great caution with younger children unless done as a read aloud where the offending language could be easily edited out. Otherwise, it does present a good, balanced viewpoint of what young manhood should be, with both toughness when needed and gentleness when required. ( )
  Homeschoolbookreview | Jun 28, 2012 |
The first piece of news is that this does not take place in Virginia. (I NEVER SAW THE MOVIES OR THE TV SHOW!) It takes place in Wyoming. Considered by some to be the first Western (or so the internet tells me), this is a series of related stories about the Virginian of the title, who is apparently so impressively manly that the narrator never mentions his name, he is always "the Virginian" doing this or that, or saying whatever. The manly stuff he does involves being a cowboy, catching cattle thieves, and courting the local school marm in a very romantic fashion (and sweet, making allowances for the culture of whenever this takes place, which I think is about 1880).

Obviously some of it is a little dated, but it doesn't take away from the story. A little more challenging is that it jumps right in with a lot of dialogue written out in, I guess, "cowpoke dialect" and it is a little grating to keep having to parse that out, but it's used to set the scene initially and then in following episodes, isn't so front and center. ( )
  delphica | May 5, 2012 |
This iconic work is the classic model for the Western genre, and rooted in 1902 when it was first published. Clearly it was written when "benevolent" racism was considered acceptable (in particular the passage that compares lynching of "Southern negroes" with lynching cattle rustlers; and, passages about "Indian chiefs" who were childishly agreeable). There is a certain amount of fond condescension toward Molly as a woman with a woman's understanding, once again rooted in a particular time. The Virginian is the strong, tall, dark, silent type who prefers to handle tough situations with humor and insight into human psychology, over the rope and the gun. Yet, he is unafraid of taking a life if he believes it is necessary. He quietly pursues true love, presents himself as manly in a variety of venues, knows how to live with (as opposed as to control) the land, and is kind to animals. The two lead characters receive considerable development, as does the narrator, and there is a sense that some events in this book actually did happen. It's a good story, and story is everything in the Western. I look forward to reading its critical analysis in West of Everything. ( )
  brickhorse | Apr 6, 2012 |
What a delightful book! I hesitate to call it a 'western', per se, but an entertaining story about people in the western areas of the USA back in the late 1800s. The book has some drama and action, but is mainly about people and situations, without a lot of description of cows and cowboys and gunfights. There is humor and sadness, human emotions of all types well described within its pages.

This book is going back on the shelf to be read again, and is being classified as a 'favorite'. ( )
  fuzzi | Dec 11, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Owen Wisterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moyers, WilliamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
First words
Some notable sight was drawing the passengers, both men and women, to the window; therefore I rose and crossed the car to see what it was.
Quotations
I had stepped into a world new to me indeed, and novelties were ocurring with scarce any time to get breath between them. As to where I should sleep, I had forgotten that problem altogether in my curiosity. What was the Virginian going to do now? I began to know that the quiet of the man was volanic.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0895773058, Hardcover)

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1902 edition. Excerpt: ...--" "He's not a bit like that. Yes, he's exactly like that," said Molly. And she would have snatched the photograph away, but her aunt retained it. "Well," she said, "I suppose there are days when he does not kill people." "He never killed anybody!" And Molly laughed. "Are you seriously--" said the old lady. "I almost might--at times. He is perfectly splendid." "My dear, you have fallen in love with his clothes." "It's not his clothes. And I'm not in love. He often wears others. He wears a white collar like anybody." "Then that would be a more suitable way to be photographed, I think. He couldn't go round like that here. I could not receive him myself." "He'd never think of such a thing. Why, you talk as if he were a savage." The old lady studied the picture closely for a minute. "I think it is a good face," she finally remarked. "Is the fellow as handsome as that, my dear?" More so, Molly thought. And who was he, and what were his prospects? were the aunt's next inquiries. She shook her head at the answers which she received; and she also shook her head over her niece's emphatic denial that her heart was lost to this man. But when their parting came, the old lady said:--"God bless you and keep you, my dear. I'll not try to manage you. They managed me--" A sigh spoke the rest of this sentence. "But I'm not worried about you--at least, not very much. You have never done anything that was not worthy of the Starks. And if you're going to take him, do it before I die so that I can bid him welcome for your sake. God bless you, my dear." And after the girl had gone back to Bennington, the great-aunt had this thought: "She is like us all. She wants a man that is a man." Nor did the old lady breathe her knowledge to any member of the family. For she was...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:10 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

His background is shadowy, his presence commanding. He brings law and order to a frontier town and wins the love of a pretty schoolteacher from the East. He is the Virginian -- the first fully realized cowboy hero in American literature, a near-mythic figure whose idealized image has profoundly influenced our national consciousness. This enduring work of fiction marks his first appearance in popular culture -- the birth of a legend that lives with us still.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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