"The Virginian" (1902) is the romantic tale of cowpunchers of the Wyoming cattle country during the 1870s and 1880s. It is chiefly concerned with a handsome, heroic figure known only as "the Virginian", his chivalry and daring and his wooing of Molly Wood, a pretty schoolteacher from Vermont.
The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister
The Virginian (1902) is Owen Wister's classic popular romance, and the most significant shaping influence on cowboy fiction. Its narrator, fresh from the East, encounters in Wyoming cattle country a strange, seductive and often violent land where the handsome figure of the Virginian battles for supremacy with Trampas and other ne'er-do-wells. His courtship of the genteel Vermont schoolteacher, Molly Wood, is a humourously observed battle of the sexes, demonstrating that the 'customs of the country' must eventually prevail. Rich in vernacular wit and portraying a romanticized escape from the decorum of the patrician East, The Virginian exudes a sense of redemptive possibility, drawing on Wister's experience of a summer spent on a Wyoming ranch in 1895. This edition includes Wister's neglected essay, 'The Evolution of the Cow-Puncher' (1895), a revealing companion to a novel that has disturbing undercurrents.
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