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.
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.
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