The Virginian


By Owen Wister

cover image of The Virginian

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Owen Wister's seminal novel The Virginian (1902) is historically the first successful novel that initiated a whole movement of novels set in the American "Wild West." Such novels have later been known to all as "Westerns" mainly thanks to the popularity of their cinematographic adaptations. In The Virginian, the protagonist is an unnamed young cowboy working in a Wyoming ranch. He displays all the good qualities of a Western hero, being physically strong, morally brave and with a good heart. The beginning of the narrative shows the Virginian demonstrating his dexterity with rope when he easily succeeds in roping a pony in front of other cowboys who have been trying to do it in vain before he comes on the scene. Most of the story, which is narrated by the Virginian's closest friend and companion, tells about the cowboy's adventures, about his romantic relationship with the beautiful schoolteacher from Maine Molly Wood and particularly about his feud with a vicious thug named Trampas. The story ends happily when good vanquishes evil, the Virginian beats Trampas in a gun battle. He then marries his sweetheart and becomes partner of the Wyoming ranch's owner.

The Virginian