The Virginian, by Owen Wister, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics* *series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
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The western is one of America's most important and influential contributions to world culture. And it was Owen Wister's The Virginian, first published in 1902, that created the familiar archetypes of character, setting, and action that still dominate western fiction and film.
The Virginian's characters include: The hero, tall, taciturn, and unflappable, confident in his skills, careful of his honor, mysterious in his background; the heroine, the "schoolmarm from the East," dedicated to civilizing the untamed town, but willing to adapt to its waysup to a point; and the villain, who is a liar, a thief, a killer, and worst of all, a coward beneath his bluster. Its settingthe lonely small town in the midst of the vast, empty, dangerous but overwhelmingly beautiful landscapeplays so crucial a role that it may be regarded as one of the primary characters. And its actionthe cattle roundup, the capture of the rustlers, the agonizing moral choices demanded by "western justice," and the climactic shoot-out between hero and villainshaped the plots of the thousands of books and movies that followed.
John G. Cawelti has published ten books, including Apostles of the Self-Made Man, Adventure, Mystery and Romance, The Spy Story, Leon Forrest: Introductions and Interpretations, and The Six-Gun Mystique Sequel. He has also published about seventy essays in the fields of American literature, cultural history, and popular culture, and has made oral presentations at more than one hundred universities and scholarly conferences.