Friday, April 19, 2013

The Dragon of Wantley His Tale  -  1895
Owen Wister
109 pages
genre  -  Humor
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

In the 2nd edition of this book, Owen Wister gives reviews of his work. I quote the preface, "We two - the author and his illustrator - did not know what we had done until the newspapers told us. But the press has explained it in the following poised and consistent criticism:

"Too many suggestions of profanity" - Congregationalist 
"It ought to be the delight of the nursery." - National Tribune 
"Some excellent moral lessons." - Citizen 
"If it has any lessons to teach, we have been unable to find it." - Independent 
"The story is a familiar one." - Detroit Free Press 
"Refreshingly novel." - Cincinnati Commercial Gazette
"The style of this production is difficult to define." - Court Journal (London) 

The author concludes the preface with this statement: "Now the public knows exactly what sort of book this is, and we cannot be held responsible."

"The Dragon of Wantley" is a cute story of a dragon that has been terrorizing the neighborhood for 13 years now. The year is 1203, and Sir Godfrey Disseisin has put up with the mayhem until the dragon gets into his beloved cellar and drinks a lot of his precious wine. How the dragon gets caught, and how Sir Godfrey's daughter falls in love, and what happens to the bad guys is a wonderful and fantastic tale.

There are formatting issues with the Amazon ebook. The first letter of each chapter is missing. So,the only clue you have that you are in a new chapter is the missing letter. There are no illustrations.  I would suggest reading this book through Project Gutenberg.  That website has those fabulous illustrations. 

About the author  -

Owen Wister was born on July 14, 1860, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He briefly attended schools in Switzerland and Britain, and later studied at St. Paul's School and Harvard University, where he was a classmate of Theodore Roosevelt, a member of Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and an editor of the Harvard Lampoon.

Wister had spent several summers out in the American West for health reasons. Like Teddy Roosevelt, Wister was fascinated with the region. On an 1893 visit to Yellowstone, Wister met the artist Frederic Remington, who remained a lifelong friend. When he began his writing career in 1891, Wister naturally wrote about the western frontier. Wister's most famous work remains the 1902 novel The Virginian.  This is widely regarded as being the first cowboy novel.  The book is dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt.

Wister died at his home in Saunderstown, Rhode Island at the age of 78.

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