I didn't realize that this would be a morality play and a love story and an adventure story, all rolled up into one. It's almost a collection of short stories, connected by the "horseman of the Plains", the Virginian. To a modern reader, the book can be a little preachy, the language a bit old-fashioned, but the honesty and thoughtfulness behind the words is real and enduring. In the few years between Wister's visits to Wyoming, which were the inspiration for this book, and the book's publication, the West that Wister brings to life had all but disappeared. But The Virginian remains a tribute to the beauty, the virtues, and the shortcomings of the era and its people.
This one bought for a gift, but the recipient did enjoy the first book--this was our second one we bought.
Owen Wister's powerful story of the silent stranger who rides into the uncivilized West and defeats the forces of evil embodies one of the most enduring themes in American mythology.
Set in the vast Wyoming territory, The Virginian (1902) captures both the grandeur and the loneliness of the frontier experience, brilliantly evoking the tension between the romantic freedom of the great, untamed landscape and mankind's deep-seated desire for community and social order. Wister brings to life the honesty and rough justice that ruled the range and the civilizing influence of determined women in frontier settlements that imposed a sense of society on an unruly population.
For Wister, the West tested a man's true worth. His hero-influenced by those of Sir Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper-is a man who lives by the classic code of chivalry, ruled by quiet courage and a deeply felt sense of honor.
Well deservedly, this book written in the early 20th century is a classic. Worth reading.