Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Virginian by Owen Wister (1902) illu.

When I asked my new friend and shoe making associate Lisa Sorrell "what do you read to get the West" she quickly came up with The Virginian, originally from Missouri she knows what Cowboys are all about. I was taking an abbreviated boot making workshop with her in OK. a world apart from MI. and I always like to read from the area of the world that I'm in. 

So I searched the net for what was out there, I am only interested in older copies of these classics and to my surprise the original printings were illustrated. This is great but led me to a decision regarding what condition and price I was going to go for. By waiting and looking I ended up with a very nice 1st year (1902) 14th printing.

The illustrations are muted, I think this is not from age but from process, but they are of course nice to have. One click in Photo Shop adds the chiaroscuro necessary for making the renderings more appealing.

After rescuing the maiden from a faltering wagon the Virginian "straightens out" the coach driver after which the driver attends to his business properly for the remainder of the trip to Bear Creek. In this, their 1st encounter, the stage is set, for the romance part of the story.

The Virginian IS the type of book for me; it contains life lessons and views on life written so clearly in  many instances that they could and should be chiseled in stone. I wish I had read this as a young man; having lost my father at the age of 16, I was free to run wild without anyone to bounce ideas and problems off of.

It may be as simple as "your reputation is you, and you are your reputations keeper." I learned this early on at work and have done my best to maintain my work reputation pretty well over more than 30 years in the same field. The Virginian is both an outstanding story of Manhood and of Romance; it teaches that if both half's of the symbiotic whole are willing to play their parts as designed by the creator then the relationship is a healthy one.

The end of the book celebrates Love and Nature, the book was dedicated to T.R. and is a direct offspring of the world that these men saw as something to preserve; the Wild West.

Just for fun I often look up the owners name inside:

Turns out Elizabeth was from old Virginia and would have been 31 at the time of printing.

Also, I was listening to Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" it fit perfectly with the tone of the book.

I'll now got through the most poignant (for me) passages, there are many more.

Early on a lesson is observed by the narrator regarding the Power of words and the "who, how, and where" that effects the outcome of those words.

I love it when an author lists the notable reads from his day; back then this was the only way to learn other viewpoints. And Scott's Kenilworth gets a lot of free plugs, so I will have to visit it on Owen's recommendation.

This one is a little harder to divine but the concept of some perfectly good offspring not getting a chance to flourish becomes a more contemplative subject as we get older.

After Molly states clearly that we are all born equal, the Virginian illustrates that our equality diverges rapidly the day after we are born.

So here it is, one of the most clear descriptions of the rational behind the creation of the American states. Referred to as "the game" the game of life; you are born, you figure it out the best you can... or you don't. lol

And here it is for those of us who don't need a religion to know there is a God. What an incredible  lighthearted stab at the Righteous.

So the concept of restraining your anger is for some of us something to work on, we need ideas like this one to help rationalize how and why a temper can be controlled.
In addition our Southerner raps up his take on salvation i.e. Heaven and Hell.

In this instance Judge Henry speaks wisdom about some clergy that may not be able to discern a follower from a good person.

Here the Virginian laments the lack of spirit in his siblings. How often we meet those who are stuck in one time period, never to explore.

Typical of Wister's wisdom this is hard to to unravel and could be over looked. So the world is a "wholesale" project for the Creator and not every element is as good as the next. He admits that ones parents may have a responsibility to you but the world certainly does not.

"A half-great poet once had a wholly great day" Wister outlines another aspect of the Virginian's character; being kind to animals is an acknowledged attribute in many circles.

The Virginian ruminates on the life threatening embarrassment at the time of "meeting her parents."

So the Virginian talks about something that most of us in an intact civilized society will never have to be a part of; deciding on, and acting on an execution. He also makes mention of "trashy curiosity" well I guess folks will be folks, no matter what the century, and that not looking is OK too.

One of the many meaty subjects explored by Wister is this one of street justice, a huge topic that I won't dig into except to say that murdering people for steeling is a little over the top. Wister seams to be justifying the practice at the same time not agreeing with it.

"Proof I don't value my own nature enough to shield it from slander" wow, Wister can come up with the essence sometimes!

Thanks Owen, Tom