First Advisor

A. B. Paulson

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English







Physical Description

1 online resource (167 p.)


The Old West of stories, movies, and folklore is of course a time and place that never existed, yet, over a century, has bloomed into an elaborate, romantic, sometimes tragic fantasy firmly rooted in the collective mythic consciousness of Americans. Wandering Man is a novel that attempts to accentuate the mythic tendencies of the Western subgenre, even at the expense of realism. An attempt to recognize the American fascination with our nineteenth century westward expansion as a construction of myth is endeavored through deliberate parallels with stories universally deemed "mythic:" Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. The protagonist of Wandering Man is based upon Odysseus, an Odysseus after the homecoming. This version of the Greek hero is similar to Dante's, as seen in the twenty-sixth canto of Inferno. Restless at home, Dante's Odysseus departs again, heading west in a small ship with a small band of men, until he had gone too far and was sucked up by a whirlpool near the mountain of Purgatory. The protagonist of the present work toils himself in Purgatory, a purgatory of never-ending journey, of continuous process without goal. The work explores the paradox of the continuing American focus on expanding westward, an action that the nation can no longer undertake in the physical world, so, instead, endeavors in the dream world. Of course, this act of fancy, of illusory rumination, is one the author undertakes as well.


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