Owen Wister (3053 words)

Jefferson Slagle (Brigham Young University)
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Context

Owen Wister is known to most readers only as the author of The Virginian, and had he written only this he would merit the attention of literary critics. The novel sold 100,000 copies in three months, six printings in the first six weeks after its publication, and sixteen printings that year (Bloodworth 45). It was adapted for the stage by Wister and Kirke La Shelle in 1904, became the subject of five films and a television series of the same title, and served as the model for later western protagonists and plots well into the twentieth century. Loren Estleman argues that the novel was a watershed moment for the western:

the western novel as it has come to be recognized sprang full-grown from the imagination …

Citation: Slagle, Jefferson. "Owen Wister". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 May 2009 [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=4774, accessed 07 August 2022.]

4774 Owen Wister 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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