Stoic cowboys, villainous gamblers, and kindhearted damsels are some of the Wild West archetypes that originated in Owen Wister’s 1902 novel, The Virginian, which has been adapted into TV and film by several directors, including Cecil B. DeMille.
The Virginian is a lanky cowboy working at a ranch in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. Throughout the story he clashes with the crooked Trampas and romances a lovely schoolteacher, Molly Stark Wood. Wister’s story depicts the harshness of the western frontier in elegant, slightly formal language.
Jack Garrett does justice to the book’s Wild West setting with his gravelly drawl and a range of character voices.
Originally published in 1902, Owen Wister’s The Virginian pre-dates the classic novels of Zane Grey and Max Brand and is considered by many to be the original Western. Dedicated to Wister’s friend and fellow outdoorsman Theodore Roosevelt, this timeless tale almost single-handedly established the cowboy archetype in literature. A quiet, noble foreman of a Wyoming cattle ranch in the 1870s, the Virginian falls for pretty schoolteacher Molly Wood. But when a rival suitor challenges his honor, the Virginian struggles to make his beloved Molly understand the harsh justice of the West.
©2006 George Vecsey (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC
A dear friend recommended that I listen to this book. She said that a professor of American literature, when asked what one book, written by a North American author, would he recommend reading above all others, said, "The Virginian." I was amazed. I would have bet on Mark Twain or Poe or Faulkner. My recollection of The Virginian was of a TV series in the 1960s. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a pleasure and delight all the way through. Why is Owen Wister not more well known than Mark Twain? Twain's "Roughing It" is one of my favorite novels of the west but "The Virginian" so outshines Twain in sheer storytelling that it makes the old master look like a copycat. This is not your dime-store, two-dimensional shoot-em-up western. Beautifully written, characters that lift off the page, a well told engrossing story, AND great literature to boot. Mark Twain move over.
A Powerful romance.
A lot is lost in understanding due to the culture shift of language and understanding of how people spoke at this time (1902) and just understanding every day environment of horses, ranches, terms of the day.
My grandfather lived 1884 to 1984 and spoke the same way. I watch "The Virginian" TV shows with my grandfather & family... Picked this book up quite randomly... Such a gem of a book.
I also highly recommend the following books:
Old Yeller - YOu'll cry when your read this one....
Note: Shane and Old Yeller are great for younger readers in that they are short books.
I've been listening to some classics interspersed with other books recently. This one was available at a special low price so I picked it up. Boy, have I been surprised! It has a good story and the narration is one of the best I've heard.
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