Lonesome Dove Essay - Critical Evaluation

Larry McMurtry

Critical Evaluation

Larry McMurtry is the author of numerous novels set in the American West, including four that feature Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call. Ordered chronologically according to the events these novels depict, they are Dead Man’s Walk (1995), Comanche Moon (1997), Lonesome Dove, and Streets of Laredo (1993). Enjoying tremendous popularity, Lonesome Dove is the best of these novels and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1986. In 1989, the novel was made into a television miniseries that starred Robert Duvall as McCrae and Tommy Lee Jones as Call.

Though Lonesome Dove is often labeled a Western, critics debate the extent of its allegiance to the conventions and themes of that genre. Because it does not wholly embrace or reject the myths of the Old West, the novel is difficult to categorize as either traditional or revisionist. The characters of McCrae and Call exemplify the impassive violence of real-life Texas Rangers, as well as the human decency and honorable codes of fictional Western heroes. At nearly 850 pages, the novel might have sprawled, but intersections among characters and convergences of plot lines keep the story tightly knit.

The novel tells an adventure story and features a number of characters on various romantic quests, and critics have noted McMurtry’s debt to Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615). In addition, it is a study of...

(The entire section is 578 words.)