Literature of the American Cowboy Criticism: Cowboy Fiction - Essay

Joe B. Frantz and Julian Ernest Choate, Jr. (essay date 1955)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Literature Before 1900,” in The American Cowboy: The Myth and the Reality, University of Oklahoma Press, 1955, pp. 140‐57.

[In the following excerpt, Frantz and Choate trace the beginnings of cowboy fiction to the mid‐1850s, with what is called “ranch fiction,” and follow the development of the literature through the turn of the century, with the publication of such novels as the popular Wolfville (1897) by Alfred Henry Lewis and the less successful Girl at the Halfway House (1900) by Emerson Hough.]

A century and a quarter ago, a Yankee whaleship, the Essex, was rammed by a sperm whale with such force that her bow was...

(The entire section is 5229 words.)

W. H. Hutchinson (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Cowboy in Short Fiction,” in A Literary History of the American West, sponsored by The Western Literature Association, Texas Christian University Press, 1987, pp. 515‐22.

[In the following essay, Hutchinson argues that the popularity of the cowboy as a principal character in short fiction lasted only as long as did the mass‐circulated American periodicals, which flourished during the first decades of the 1900s and created a huge market for cowboy fiction.]

The cowboy as a prominent figure in American short fiction lived for only the first three or four decades of the twentieth century. The main reason for this foreshortened life‐span should be...

(The entire section is 3262 words.)

Lou Rodenberger (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Novel of the Cowboy,” in A Literary History of the American West, sponsored by The Western Literature Association, Texas Christian University Press, 1987, pp. 523‐34.

[In the following essay, Rodenberger presents an overview of the history of the cowboy novel and the evolution of the criticism of the genre. Rodenberger focuses on the most influential works and the effect they had on later authors.]

For a century now, novelists captivated by the history of the West have been writing about the life of the cowboy. Fewer than a hundred novels of the cowboy genre can be said to have literary qualities, yet the genre retains a great popular appeal; and...

(The entire section is 5173 words.)