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#93- The Father of the Western Novel: Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage

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Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage has played a significant role in shaping the popular Western genre.

First published in 1912, this novel is often referred to as “the most popular western novel of all time.” But as Karl points out, “We’ve made Westerns for much longer than when there was a Wild West.”

Set in Southern Utah canyon country in 1871, it tells the story of a woman, Jane Withersteen, trying to escape the control of her fundamentalist Mormon community with the aid of two cowboys, Bern Venters and Jim Lassiter. What ensures is horse-theft, kidnapping, gunfights, and lots of romance.

Scott summarizes, “This book is about salvation.”

But what’s the appeal to the Western genre?

You’ll find that the lone cowboy heroes in this story are self-assured, with a strong sense of justice.

Scott adds, “Lassiter and Venters are complete within themselves. They’ve been alone enough that they know what they think.”

Even if Westerns aren’t your favorite, you’ll be intrigued by this piece of pulp fiction. “These are stories about the edge,” Karl says, “the frontier is [a place] where things are possible and more is demanded of you.”

Tune in to learn more about Grey’s best-selling book that solidified him as the father of the western novel.

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