Lonesome Dove

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Lonesome Dove
LarryMcMurtry LonesomeDove.jpg
1st edition
Author(s)Larry McMurtry
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SeriesLonesome Dove series
Genre(s)Western
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date1985
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages843 p. (hardback edition)
ISBNISBN 0-671-50420-7 (hardback edition)
OCLC Number11812426
Dewey Decimal813/.54 19
LC ClassificationPS3563.A319 L6 1985
Followed byStreets of Laredo
 
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Lonesome Dove
LarryMcMurtry LonesomeDove.jpg
1st edition
Author(s)Larry McMurtry
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SeriesLonesome Dove series
Genre(s)Western
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date1985
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages843 p. (hardback edition)
ISBNISBN 0-671-50420-7 (hardback edition)
OCLC Number11812426
Dewey Decimal813/.54 19
LC ClassificationPS3563.A319 L6 1985
Followed byStreets of Laredo

Lonesome Dove is a 1985 Pulitzer Prize–winning western novel written by Larry McMurtry. It is the first published book of the Lonesome Dove series, but the third installment in the series chronologically. The story focuses on the relationship of several retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana.

McMurtry originally developed the tale in 1972 for a feature film entitled The Streets of Laredo (a title later used for the sequel), which would have been directed by Peter Bogdanovich and would have starred James Stewart as Augustus McCrae, John Wayne as W.F. Call, and Henry Fonda as Jake Spoon. But plans fell through when Wayne turned it down, leading Stewart to back out, and the project was eventually shelved. Ten years later McMurtry resurrected the screenplay as a full-length novel, which became a bestseller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[1]

After the novel won the Pulitzer Prize, the idea of turning the novel into film came up again. Both John Milius and John Huston each attempted to adapt the novel into a feature film before Suzanne De Passe and McMurtry decided to adapt the novel as a mini-series. It was then made into the four-part TV miniseries, which won seven Emmy Awards and was nominated for twelve others.[2] It spawned four follow-up miniseries, Return to Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo, Dead Man's Walk, and Comanche Moon, and two television series, Lonesome Dove: The Series and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years.[3]

Contents

Origins

The original Lonesome Dove story had been written as a movie script for a 1970s film to be directed by Peter Bogdanovich and star John Wayne, James Stewart, and Henry Fonda. Wayne turned down the part on John Ford's advice and Stewart backed out as a result, so the movie was abandoned. McMurtry later turned the script into a full-length novel. The novel was then developed as a television miniseries with Tommy Lee Jones in the Wayne role, Robert Duvall in the Stewart part, and Robert Urich filling in for Fonda. James Garner had been offered the role of Augustus McCrae in the original miniseries but had to turn it down for health reasons. Garner later played Woodrow Call in the sequel, "The Streets of Laredo".[4]

The basic story is a slightly fictionalized account of Charles Goodnight's and Oliver Loving's cattle drive. In particular, Loving (Gus) was attacked by Indians, and died several weeks later of blood poisoning with Goodnight (Call) at his side. Goodnight honored Loving's dying request to be taken back to Texas for burial.

Plot

It is 1876.[5] Captain Augustus "Gus" McCrae and Captain Woodrow F. Call, two famous ex–Texas Rangers, run a livery called the Hat Creek Cattle Company and Livery Emporium in the small dusty Texas border town of Lonesome Dove. Smooth, charming and easy going, Gus loves women and women return the sentiments, but he's twice a widower and he never marries the love of his life, Clara. Although he had proposed many a time, she had rejected him every time because, in her words, Gus is "a rambler," and she despises Call because she feels jealous of the years Gus spent with him instead of her. She needed to settle down and have a family and a good life; he was brave and a dead aim, but was lazy and prone to wandering away for another adventure.

While McCrae is warm, good natured, and understanding of people, Captain Call, Gus's best friend and partner, is the opposite: a workaholic taskmaster who hides in his work, emotionally cut off. He is afraid "to admit he's human," according to McCrae. He loved only one woman, a prostitute named Maggie, who gave birth to his only son, Newt. Though he knows he is his bastard son's father, he refuses to admit it and give Newt his name. He is hypercompetent at his work to compensate for his complete failure at human relationships. He is cold and driven by pride and honor, not love. Even when he drags the body of the only human who ever understood him and loved him anyway over 2000 miles across the Great Plains, suffering ridicule and hardship, he claims he is doing it for duty, not friendship. He is the Western version of Captain Ahab whose reckless stubbornness ends in tragedy.

Working with them are Joshua Deets, a black man who is an excellent tracker and scout from their Ranger days, Pea Eye Parker, another former Ranger who works hard but isn't all too bright, and Bolivar, a retired Mexican bandit who is their cook. Also living with them is the boy Newt Dobbs, a seventeen-year-old whose mother was a prostitute named Maggie and whose father may be Call.

The story begins in the small town of Lonesome Dove, as Jake Spoon, a former comrade of Call's and McCrae's, shows up after an absence of more than ten years. He is a man on the run, having accidentally shot the dentist of Fort Smith in Arkansas. The dentist's brother happens to be the sheriff, July Johnson. Reunited with Gus and Call, Jake's breath-taking description of Montana inspires Call to gather a herd of cattle and drive them there, to begin the first cattle ranch in the frontier territory. Call is attracted to the romantic notion of settling pristine country. Gus is less enthusiastic, pointing out that they are getting old and that they are Rangers and traders, not cowboys. But he changes his mind when Jake reminds him that Gus' old sweetheart, Clara, lives on the Platte, 20 miles from Ogallala, Nebraska, which is on their route to Montana. Captain Call prevails. They make preparations for their adventure north, including stealing horses in Mexico and recruiting almost all the male citizens of Lonesome Dove.

Ironically, Jake Spoon decides not to go after all, being selfish and undependable and because he promises the town's only prostitute, Lorena Wood, known as Lorie, he'll take her to San Francisco.

Ogallala also happens to be the destination of Elmira, the wife of Sheriff Johnson, as she runs away to meet up with her true love, Dee Boot. So the three groups head north. They encounter horse thieves, murderers, hostile Indians, inclement weather, and a few inner demons.

Characters

Historical references

According to McMurtry, Gus and Call were not modeled after historical characters, but there are similarities with real-life cattle drivers Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight. When Goodnight and Loving's guide Bose Ikard died, Goodnight carved a wooden grave marker for him, just as Call does for Deets. Upon Loving's death, Goodnight brought him home to be buried in Texas, just as Call does for Augustus. (Goodnight himself appears as a minor but generally sympathetic character in this novel, and more so in the sequel, Streets of Laredo, and the prequels Dead Man's Walk and Comanche Moon.)

Other books of the Lonesome Dove series feature more-prominent historical events and locations such as the Santa Fe Expedition, Great Raid of 1840 and the King Ranch, and characters such as Buffalo Hump, John Wesley Hardin, and Judge Roy Bean.

Several years ago, McMurtry mentioned in a newspaper interview that he first thought of the name for his epic while at a restaurant in Oklahoma. On that day, he saw a van which was owned by Lonesome Dove Baptist Church in Southlake, Texas. Lonesome Dove has existed as a Baptist church and cemetery in Southlake since 1846. That left an impression on him. According to McMurtry, Newt Dobbs is the "lonesome dove".

The sidearm Gus McCrae carries in the book is a Colt Dragoon, while in the Miniseries he carries a Walker Colt, designed by Texas Ranger Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker, and produced by Connecticut gun-maker Samuel Colt in 1847. It was first issued to the Texas Rangers, who praised the pistol for its durability as well as its accuracy and dependability. It was the most powerful black powder revolver ever made, and became as much of a legend as the early Rangers who carried it.

The sign for Gus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call's Hat Creek Cattle Company includes a Latin motto, "Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit," which appears to be a reference to a proverb first attributed to Juvenal. The proverb, "Uva Uvam Videndo Varia Fit" is translated as "A grape (uva) other grapes (uvam) seeing (videndo) changes (varia fit)." Some readers think McMurtry's substitution of "vivendo" for "videndo" is an artifice used to underscore Gus's lack of education and unfamiliarity with Latin; but later, when Call asks Gus about the motto, he is interrupted while explaining "uva, uvam, fit, double fit, ..." while pointing to the sign (or the crew, perhaps). Having established that, McMurtry gains nothing by adding a spelling error that only Latin scholars would catch. Likewise, it seems unlikely — as other readers have suggested — that the substitution was simply a typographical error. Although the substitution is ungrammatical, "vivendo" means "living," turning the phrase "A grape changes when it sees other grapes" to "A grape is changed by living with other grapes" or, since we are not really concerned with grapes after all, to "We are changed by the lives around us." The author's alteration takes on greater significance in light of the larger themes of the narrative that deal with how one leads one's own life, and with living itself. These themes are underscored by other remarks that characterize their journey, such as: (1) "you ride with an outlaw, you die with an outlaw" when Jake is found with the horse thieves; and (2) a comment Gus made to Call: "It ain't dyin' I'm talkin' about ... it's LIVIN!"; all best understood as parabolic references to the true vine and Vinedresser from Jn 15:1.

Adaptations

A television miniseries adaptation, produced by Motown Productions, was broadcast on CBS in 1989. It starred Robert Duvall as Augustus McCrae, Tommy Lee Jones as Woodrow F. Call, Rick Schroder as Newt, Diane Lane as Lorena Wood, Danny Glover as Joshua Deets, Robert Urich as Jake Spoon, Anjelica Huston as Clara Allen, Frederic Forrest as Blue Duck, Chris Cooper as July Johnson, and Barry Corbin as Roscoe Brown. Four other actors (Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, James Garner, and Jon Voight) were offered the role of Woodrow Call but declined for various reasons before the role fell to Tommy Lee Jones. The majority of the miniseries was filmed at the Moody Ranch located seven miles south of Del Rio, Texas. Other locations used for filming, were ranches, in Texas and New Mexico. Real ranch horses were used for authenticity during the filming of the movie. The majority of the ION Television has shown a digitally remastered version of the miniseries starting the weekend of June 30, 2007 during the "RHI Movie Weekend" (RHI Entertainment are the current owners of the Lonesome Dove miniseries). The four episodes are entitled Leaving, On the Trail, The Plains, and Return.

There was also a syndicated spin-off TV series Lonesome Dove: The Series centering on Newt (Scott Bairstow) taking up residence in the fictional town of Curtis Wells, Montana, having adopted his father's family name of Call. Starting out as a fairly romanticized interpretation of the West, it was heavily revamped for its second season, gaining a much grittier feel and the new title Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years. Filming took place in Calgary, Alberta, and a total of 43 episodes were produced, airing between 1994 and 1996.

See also

References

  1. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes - Fiction". The Pulitzer Prizes. The Pulitzer Prizes. http://www.pulitzer.org/awards/1986. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  2. ^ ""Lonesome Dove" (1989) - Awards". imdb.com. The Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096639/awards. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  3. ^ ""Lonesome Dove" (1989) - Movie Connections". imdb.com. The Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096639/movieconnections. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  4. ^ ""Lonesome Dove" (1989)". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096639/. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  5. ^ The Battle of the Little Bighorn is mentioned as a recent event. See Postmodern Aspects in Larry McMurtry, p. 57

Bibliography

External links