The Virginian (novel)

The Virginian (novel)

"This page is about the novel, for other uses (including film adaptations) see The Virginian (disambiguation)."Infobox Book
name = The Virginian
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = The Original 1902 Edition
author = Owen Wister
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Western
publisher = Macmillan
release_date = 1902
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback and Paperback)
pages =
isbn = NA
oclc = 65699996
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Virginian" (sometimes titled "The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains)" was a pioneering Wild West novel by the American author Owen Wister, published in 1902. The copyright has long since expired, and it is available on the Internet. The book was dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt, a good friend of Owen Wister.

Plot summary

Ostensibly a love story, the novel really revolves around a highly mythologized version of the Johnson County War in 1890s Wyoming. The real Johnson County War was a dispute between large ranchers and smaller operators over cattle theft. The novel takes the side of the large ranchers, and depicts the lynchings as frontier justice, meted out by the protagonist, who is a member of a natural aristocracy among men; this theme of the wilderness as a magnifying glass for humans' inherent qualities is also found in other fiction of the period, such as "Tarzan of the Apes." In a central episode, the protagonist participates in the lynching of an admitted cattle thief, who had been his close friend. The lynching is represented as a necessary response to the government's corruption and lack of action, but the protagonist feels it to be a horrible duty. He is especially stricken by the bravery with which the thief faces his fate, and the heavy burden it places on his heart forms the emotional core of the story.


Structurally, the story is less a novel than an anthology of previously published stories about the central character, with, e.g., the point of view shifting from one chapter to the next. "The Virginian", both the character and the book, are considered to be first of their kind. The character is seen as the first real cowboy character that has set the standard for the cowboy character stereotype. The book is seen as one of the first great western novels about cowboys.


:"Therefore Trampas spoke. "Your bet, you son-of-a--."

:"The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: "When you call me that, SMILE." And he looked at Trampas across the table."

:"Yes, the voice was gentle. But in my ears it seemed as if somewhere the bell of death was ringing; and silence, ..."

Film versions

*"The Virginian (1914 film)" directed by Cecil B. DeMille, with Dustin Farnum
*"The Virginian (1923 film)" with Kenneth Harlan and Florence Vidor
*"The Virginian (1929 film)" with Gary Cooper and Walter Huston
*"The Virginian (1946 film)" with Joel McCrea and Brian Donlevy
*"The Virginian (1962 - 1971 TV Series)" with James Drury and Doug McClure
*" [| The Virginian (2000) (TV movie)] ] with Bill Pullman, Diane Lane, John Savage, Colm Feore, Phillip Granger, and Dennis Weaver.

External links

*gutenberg|no=1298|name=The Virginian

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