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.
Owen Wister (1860-1938) was born in Philadelphia and raised in Germantown, Pennsylvania. At age 25, he spent a summer in Wyoming on the advice of his physician. Encouraged by his friend from Harvard, Theodore Roosevelt, he later wrote about his experiences and observations of the American West. His greatest success came in 1902 with the publication of The Virginian, which was a bestseller for months and would be dramatized and filmed numerous times.
John Seelye is a graduate research professor of American literature at the University of Florida. He is the author of The True Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain at the Movies, Prophetic Writers: The River in Early American Litearture, Beautiful Machine: Rivers and the Early Republic,Memory's Nation: The Place of Plymouth Rock, and War Games: Richard Harding Davis and the New Imperialism. He is also the consulting editor for Penguin Classics in American literature.
From the Trade Paperback edition.