Wister's mother influenced the course of his early life profoundly. Her interests in culture and learning fostered Wister's early talents in music and writing.
Wister's education matched the expectations for the upper class of his time. From to he joined his family in Europe and was taught in schools in England and Switzerland. In , the Wister family returned to Philadelphia and young Owen, known to the family as "Dan," was packed off to the St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. Upon his graduation, he matriculated at Harvard University. His time at Harvard was invigorating for the budding young musician and writer.
He graduated from Harvard in summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He was determined to pursue a career as a composer. Following graduation, Wister traveled to Europe to study music. His musical ability was so apparent that his grandmother engineered a performance for the great piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, who said that Wister had " un talent prononc??
After his audience with Liszt, Wister studied at the Paris Conservatoire. However, Wister's ever-practical father ordered him home in to find a proper job. Wister returned to a position at the Union Safe Deposit Vault. He loathed bankers for the rest of his life. After a year's drudgery, he sought and was granted parental permission to return to Harvard for law school.
He expressed his disappointment and frustration during these years in two ways. First, he wrote a novel called A Wise Man's Son about a young man destined to be a painter, but forced by his father into business. Upon the advice of William Dean Howells, the leading figure in American Letters at that time, Wister did not attempt to have the novel published.
The manuscript has not survived. Wister then began to suffer a number of nervous and mental problems that incapacitated him and worried his family. Silas Weir Mitchell eventually diagnosed the malady as neurasthenia and prescribed a variation of his famous "rest cure.
More Books by Owen Wister
This cure became the inspiration for the work that made Wister famous. By , Wister determined to do something with the copious journals he had kept during his trips to the West. He recalled in his semi-autobiographical Roosevelt: The Story of a Friendship that in the autumn of that year that he and his friend Walter Furness were discussing the West when one of them asked "Why wasn't some Kipling saving the sage-brush for American literature, before the sage-brush and all that it signified went the way of everything?
I'm going to start this minute. The accuracy of particular timeline is questioned, but Wister's story was published in January of the next year in Harper's Weekly. He also sent a graphic story, "Balaam and Pedro," to Harper's Monthly , where it was illustrated by the renowned artist Frederick Remington.
During the rest of the s, Wister continued writing short stories on western themes. In , he published his first volume of short stories, Red Men and White. In , his first "novel" appeared, Lin McLain. Though Wister liked to call it a novel, Lin McLain is largely a stitched-together collection of stories with a common character. The featured story of the volume, "Padre Ignacio," was so much a departure from Wister's usual concentration on action and on landscape that Remington found it impossible to illustrate for Harper's.
It is the moving tale of a priest exiled from Europe to Mexican California with only a yearly packet of letters and musical scores from Paris to maintain his connection to the world. He becomes tempted by the tales of the outside world that an adventurous creole tells him.
He is so tempted that his idyllic existence is temporarily marred. He eventually regains his satisfaction with his mission on the Camino Real, and he dies with a "silent and thankful heart. By the end of , Wister resolved to ask his distant cousin Mary Channing Wister to marry him, and he proposed on New Year's Day in They married on April 21, , at the bride's home, and they honeymooned in Charleston, South Carolina, and the state of Washington.
The Virginian - Owen Wister - Works | Archive of Our Own
The former location provided inspiration for a future novel. The couple had six children during the course of their marriage. Wister began to work on the novel that elevated him from the ranks of accomplished short story writers to the level of celebrity.
Wister decided to create a novel about a character who had appeared fleetingly in some of the Lin McLain stories, a character known only as "the Virginian. The Virginian was ruggedly masculine, honest, and tender. He was not perfect; he recognized in himself a need for culture and learning. An episodic novel, though much more unified than Wister's earlier Lin McLain had been, The Virginian depicts the changing climate of the West, the growing relationship between the Easterner and the Virginian, and the beauty of the Western landscape.
It creates many standard features of the Western genre: fast-draw contests, noble code of conduct, the Eastern school marm, and many others.
It is also the source of the great Western line, "When you call me that, smile," which was line in response to an insult levied at the Virginian. Loren Estleman writes, "the importance of Owen Wister to the literature of the American West cannot be overstated With The Virginian , Wister fashioned both a native language and a national voice.
Works of Owen Wister
Certainly the book is absorbingly interesting. It contains humor, pathos, poetic description, introspective thought, sentiment, and even tragedy. Wister writes well and true The Virginian is a character that will stick in the mind of even a confirmed novel reader for a long time, and leave its mark there. Brock said, "Nobody has any right to know anything about the details of honeymoons—even where basic savages are concerned. The Times critic wrote that while " The Virginian is well worth seeing, both for its artistic and its popular interest," it missed a chance to become a "great American drama" by remaining a "dramatized novel.
Ulysses S. Cohn Hardback 1 copy.
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Marshall 1 — 2 more , Alfred Deakin 1 , Edward St. John Gorey 1. Add to favorites. Related tags. Events on LibraryThing Local. No events listed. You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data. Wister, Owen. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Paul's School. Harvard Law School Wister, Sarah Butler mother. Wister, Fanny Kemble daughter. Haines, William Wister nephew. Hasty Pudding.