America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 49-50.

Wister, Owen.  The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains.  New York: Macmillan, 1902.

Born into an affluent Eastern family, Owen Wister had a varied and successful literary career, producing novels, short fiction, plays, poetry, essays, and nonfiction books.  Today, however, he is best known for one novel, The Virginian, which formalized the Wild West tales of the dime novels into a literary genre.  The novel has remained continuously in print since its initial publication.  By the time that Wister died in 1938, more than a million and a half hardcover copies had been sold.  Over the next half-century, another half-million hardcover copies were sold, in addition to several million copies in paperback.  The novel has been adapted to film four times, most notably as a 1929 vehicle for Gary Cooper.  Interestingly, although the novel was extremely popular among turn-of-the-century readers and seems very staid by today’s standards, in that Age of Gentility it seemed to some moral arbiters to be pushing the limits of permissible expression in its treatment of its romantic elements.

Wister turned the “cowboy” into an amalgam of what had previously been separate frontier types–the cattleman, the plainsman, and the gunfighter.  The Virginian, who is never named more specifically, is the embodiment of the “American” virtues of self-reliance, adaptability, competence, stoic endurance, and quiet confidence.  He adheres to a personal code of behavior so determinedly that it amounts to a kind of righteousness.  Wister conceived of the “cowboy” as an American reincarnation of the medieval knight errant, as an American Ivanhoe.  In the end, the Virginian bests his antagonist, Trampas, in a dramatic gunfight, and he wins the heart of the schoolteacher, Molly Wood.

 

Zollinger, Norman.  Riders to Cibola.  Albuquerque, NM: Museum of New Mexico P, 1977.

Norman Zollinger was in his mid-fifties when his first novel, Riders to Cibola was published.  After a successful career in business, he bought a bookstore in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in order to create time for him to pursue his ambition to become a published novelist.  It took him a half-dozen years to write Riders to Cibola, but for the novel, he received a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America.  He would produce further novels at roughly five-year intervals up to his death in 2000.  For Rage in Chupadera (1991), he would receive a second Spur Award, and in 1999, despite his relatively limited corpus, he was honored with Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement in the Western genre, also from the Western Writers of America.

Riders to Cibola is a story of initiation and maturation joined to a family chronicle.  Its protagonist is Ignacio Ortiz, an orphaned Mexican boy who manages to make his way north into New Mexico, where he is hired as a hand on the MacAndrews ranch.  When he is in his early twenties, he is promoted to foreman and becomes an ardent protector of his employer’s interests.  But when MacAndrews dies and his son begins to operate the ranch, Ortiz finds it much more difficult to sustain his devotion to his job.  The younger MacAndrews is physically a cripple and suffers from some psychological disorders that seem corollaries to his physical limitations.

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Previous Posts in This Series:

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 1-2: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/10/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-1-2/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 3-5: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/16/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-3-5/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 6-8: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/20/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-6-8/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 9-11: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/04/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-9-11/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 12-14: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/12/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-12-14/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 15-17: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/21/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-15-17/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 18-20: https://academeblog.org/2014/11/02/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-18-20/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 21-23: https://academeblog.org/2014/11/09/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-21-23/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 24-26: https://academeblog.org/2014/11/23/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-24-26/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 27-29: https://academeblog.org/2014/12/25/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-27-29/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 30-32: https://academeblog.org/2015/01/19/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-30-32/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 33-35: https://academeblog.org/2015/02/05/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-33-35/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 36-38: https://academeblog.org/2015/03/10/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-36-37/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 39-40: https://academeblog.org/2015/03/21/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-39-40/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 41-42: https://academeblog.org/2015/04/05/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-41-42/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 43-44: https://academeblog.org/2015/05/08/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-43-44/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 45-46: https://academeblog.org/2015/05/17/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-45-46/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 47-48: https://academeblog.org/2015/05/27/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-47-48/

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Posts in the Previous Series:

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 1-3: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-1-3/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 4-5: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/31/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-4-5/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 6-7: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/01/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-6-7/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 8-10: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/04/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-8-10/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 11-13: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/06/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-11-13/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 14-16: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-14-16/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 17-19: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/18/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-17-19/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 20-22: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/25/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-20-22/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 23-25: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/07/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-23-25/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 26-29: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-26-29/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 30-32: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/23/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-30-32/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 33: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/29/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-33/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 34-36: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/10/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-34-36/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 37-39: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/15/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-37-39/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 40-42: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/21/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-40-42/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 43-45: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/23/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-43-45/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 46-48: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/26/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-46-48/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 49-50: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-49-50/

 

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