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Owen Wister's powerful story of the silent stranger who rides into the uncivilized West and defeats the forces of evil embodies one of the most enduring themes in American mythology. Set in the vast Wyoming territory, The Virginian (1902) captures both the grandeur and the loneliness of the frontier experience, brilliantly evoking the tension between the romantic freedom of the great, untamed landscape and mankind's deep-seated desire for community and social order. Wister brings to life the honesty and rough justice that ruled the range and the civilizing influence of determined women in frontier settlements that imposed a sense of society on an unruly population. For Wister, the West tested a man's true worth. His hero-influenced by those of Sir Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper-is a man who lives by the classic code of chivalry, ruled by quiet courage and a deeply felt sense of honor.