Synopses & Reviews
Riders of the Purple Sage, perhaps more than any other novel, contributed to the concept of the American West. The mysterious gunfighter, the outlaw boss and his masked accomplice, the frontier woman torn between love and law, the laconic cowboy out on the range—all these figures became familiar to readers through the work of Zane Grey. If Owen Wister invented the Western story in The Virginian (Bison Books 1992), Grey moved it farther west in the popular imagination and supplied authentic atmosphere. Riders of the Purple Sage is "pure Americana," to quote one critic. It has the classic elements of the genre: revenge, fast horses, abduction, pistol duels, cattle stampedes, daring pursuits and escapes, dark secrets, hidden gold, pastoral refuge, splendid sunsets—and Grey's emphasis on the passion of man and woman. What The Nation said about the novel in 1912 still stands: it contains all that storytellers about the West "have ever dreamed of or invented to stir the heart and freeze the blood."
About the Author
James C. Work, a professor of English at Colorado State University and editor of Shane: The Critical Edition (Nebraska 1984) and Prose and Poetry of the American West (Nebraska 1990).