Dime Novels Criticism: Popular Characters - Essay

Warren French (essay date 1951)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Cowboy in the Dime Novel,” in Studies in English, Vol. XXX, 1951, pp. 219-34.

[In the following essay, French traces the role of the cowboy character in the dime novel, revealing the character's emerging importance in the works of four novelists.]

Sentimentalists are poor prophets. In his nostalgic tribute to the old dime novel, Charles Harvey wrote in the Atlantic Monthly in 1907:

More than a quarter of a century ago … the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe ended the days of the old trail and its story tellers. Between the railroads which transported the cattle from the ranges to the stockyards, and the barbed...

(The entire section is 6955 words.)

Daryl E. Jones (essay date 1973)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Clenched Teeth and Curses: Revenge and the Dime Novel Outlaw Hero,” in Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. VII, No. 3, Winter, 1973, pp. 652-65.

[In the essay below, Jones explores the development of the outlaw hero in dime novels, arguing that the character emerged from the cultural context of the times.]

Among the select brotherhood of Western heroes who live eternally in the popular imagination, one figure is strangely prominent—a man clad wholly in black, seated astride a black horse. Characteristically, his fist is raised in defiance, his teeth are clenched, and from the shadow obscuring the top half of his face two black, magnetic eyes are smoldering....

(The entire section is 7010 words.)