We here at D&B Supply would like to welcome and say thank you to Amanda Patchin for helping us start a new book review series here on our blog. She has chosen a few books already and thought the classic book by Owen Wister, The Virginian, would be a perfect start. Here is a little bit about Amanda, we hope you enjoy.
Amanda (Mandi) Patchin finished her MA in literature in 2011. This failed to kill her love of reading and writing and she now works on various bookish projects while keeping up with her two preschool sons. Lover of such varied writers as St. Augustine, R.L. Stevenson, and C.S. Lewis she can be found with a P.G. Wodehouse novel in her hands most weeks. She blogs sporadically at 200books.com.
Review of Owen Wister’s The Virginian
By Amanda Patchin
The Virginian is simply the essential western novel. Since its publication in 1902 (dedicated to the manliest of presidents Theodore Roosevelt) it both founded and shaped our romantic notion of the cowboy. While the book itself has been very popular over the last hundred years, it has also inspired at least six different movies of the same title (the Gary Cooper film from 1929 is the best) and numerous other Western books and movies. The title character of Wister’s novel is a ranch hand: tall, handsome, and charming and with a thick Southern accent despite his years in the Wyoming territory. The story tracks his courtship of the lovely eastern schoolteacher, Miss Molly Wood, and his antagonism of the outlaw cowpoke Trampas.
The Virginian is the exemplification of early 20th century manhood: self-made, soft-spoken, humorous, unfailingly courteous, compassionate, and just. Miss Molly Wood is then an exemplification of early 20th century womanhood: blue-blooded, intelligent, hard-working, idealistic, and, most importantly, susceptible to the Virginian’s romantic pursuit. Critics have challenged Wister’s notions of the West, of gender and of social class, however, it is significant to note that this book was absolutely non-controversial for its time. Wister wrote to the ideals and aspirations of his audience who appreciated both the authenticity and wildness of the West and the civilization of the East. It is a story well-balanced between the hero’s journey and the romance of love and marriage.
Wister’s prose is distinctly romantic – this is no modernist, or even realist, novel – but this romanticism makes for pleasant and inspiring reading. This is a classic tale of good against evil, the hero rescuing the maiden, and justice prevailing over lawlessness. The Virginian is full of various incidents and characters that keep the story fresh and moving: everything from self-important preachers to runaway horses to baby-switching pranks! If you enjoy old Western movies like High Noon and Shane and Western books like those of Louis L’Amour you will appreciate the work of Owen Wister.