The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  

Original title page.
Author L. Frank Baum
Illustrator W. W. Denslow
Country United States
Language English
Series The Oz Books
Genre(s) Fantasy, Children's novel
Publisher George M. Hill
Publication date 1900
Media type print (hardcover and paperback), audiobook
Pages 259 p., 21 leaves of plates (first edition hardcover)
OCLC 9506808
Followed by The Marvelous Land of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow. It was originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago in 1900,[1] and has since been reprinted countless times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the 1902 stage play and the extremely popular, highly acclaimed 1939 film version. The story chronicles the adventures of a girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz. Thanks in part to the 1939 MGM movie, it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the popular 1902 Broadway musical Baum adapted from his story, led to Baum's writing and having published thirteen more Oz books.

Baum dedicated the book "to my good friend & comrade, My Wife," Maud Gage Baum. In January 1901, the publisher, the George M. Hill Company, completed printing the first edition, which probably totaled around 35,000 copies. Records indicate that 21,000 copies were sold through 1900.[2]

The original book has been in public domain in the United States since 1956. Baum's thirteen sequels entered public domain in the United States from 1960 through 1986. The rights to these books were held by the Walt Disney Company, and their impending expiration was a prime motivator for the production of the 1985 film Return to Oz, based on Baum's second and third Oz books.

Historians, economists and literary scholars have examined and developed possible political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. However, the majority of the reading public simply takes the story at face value.


[edit] Plot summary

Dorothy is a young girl who lives on a Kansas farm in the year 1889 with her Uncle Henry, Aunt Em, and little dog Toto. One day the farmhouse, with Dorothy inside, is caught up in a tornado and deposited in a field in the country of the Munchkins. The falling house kills the Wicked Witch of the East.

The Good Witch of the North comes with the Munchkins to greet Dorothy and gives Dorothy the Silver Shoes that the Wicked Witch of the East had been wearing when she was killed. In order to return to Kansas, the Good Witch of the North tells Dorothy that she will have to go to the "Emerald City" and ask the Wizard of Oz to help her.

On her way down the road paved with yellow brick, Dorothy frees the Scarecrow from the pole he is hanging on, restores the movements of the rusted Tin Woodman with an oil can, and encourages them and the Cowardly Lion to journey with her and Toto to the Emerald City. The Scarecrow wants to get a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, courage. All are convinced by Dorothy that the Wizard can help them too. Together, they overcome obstacles on the way.

When the group arrives at the Emerald City, the Guardian of the Gates provides them with special green spectacles that will keep the brilliance of the Emerald City from blinding them.

When each traveler meets with the Wizard, he appears each time as someone or something different. To Dorothy, the Wizard is a giant head; the Scarecrow sees a beautiful woman; the Tin Woodman sees a ravenous beast; the Cowardly Lion sees a ball of fire. The Wizard agrees to help each of them, but one of them must kill the Wicked Witch of the West who rules over the Winkie Country.

As the friends travel across the Winkie Country, the Wicked Witch sends wolves, crows, bees, and then her Winkie soldiers to attack them but they manage to get past them all. Then, using the power of the Golden Cap, the Witch summons the Winged Monkeys to capture all of the travelers.

When the Wicked Witch gains one of Dorothy's silver shoes by trickery, Dorothy in anger grabs a bucket of water and throws it on the Wicked Witch, who begins to melt. The Winkies rejoice at being freed of the witch's tyranny, and they help to reassemble the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman. The Winkies love the Tin Woodman and they ask him to become their ruler, which he agrees to do after helping Dorothy return to Kansas.

Dorothy uses the Golden Cap to summon the Winged Monkeys to carry her and her companions back to the Emerald City, and the King tells how they were bound by an enchantment to the cap by Gayelette.

When Dorothy and her friends meet the Wizard of Oz again, he tries to put them off. Toto accidentally tips over a screen in a corner of the throne room, revealing an old man who had journeyed to Oz from Omaha long ago in a hot air balloon.

The Wizard provides the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion with a head full of bran, pins, and needles ("a lot of bran-new brains"), a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, and a potion of "courage", respectively. Because of their faith in the Wizard's power, these otherwise useless items provide a focus for their desires. In order to help Dorothy and Toto get home, the Wizard realizes that he will have to take them home with him in a new balloon, which he and Dorothy fashion from green silk. Revealing himself to the people of the Emerald City one last time, the Wizard appoints the Scarecrow, by virtue of his brains, to rule in his stead. Dorothy chases Toto after he runs after a kitten in the crowd, and before she can make it back to the balloon, the ropes break, leaving the Wizard to rise and float away alone.

Dorothy turns to the Winged Monkeys to carry her and Toto home, but they cannot cross the desert surrounding Oz. The Soldier with the Green Whiskers advises that Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, may be able to send Dorothy and Toto home. They, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion journey to Glinda's palace in the Quadling Country. Together they escape the Fighting Trees, dodge the Hammer-Heads, and tread carefully through the China Country. The Cowardly Lion kills a giant spider, who is terrorizing the animals in a forest, and he agrees to return there to rule them after Dorothy returns to Kansas—the biggest of the tigers ruling in his stead as before. Dorothy uses her third wish to fly over the Hammer-Heads' mountain.

At Glinda's palace, the travelers are greeted warmly, and it is revealed by Glinda that Dorothy had the power to go home all along. The Silver Shoes she wears can take her anywhere she wishes to go. She tearfully embraces her friends, all of whom will be returned, through Glinda's use of the Golden Cap, to their respective sovereignties: the Scarecrow to the Emerald City, the Tin Woodman to the Winkie Country, and the Cowardly Lion to the forest. Then she will give the Cap to the king of the Winged Monkeys, so they will never be under its spell again. Dorothy and Toto return to Kansas and a joyful family reunion. The Silver Shoes are lost during Dorothy's flight and never seen again.

[edit] Illustration and design

The book was illustrated by Baum's friend and collaborator W.W. Denslow, who also co-held the copyright. The design was lavish for the time, with illustrations on every page, backgrounds in different colors, and several color plate illustrations. The distinctive look led to imitators at the time, most notably Zauberlinda, the Wise Witch. The typeface was the newly-designed Monotype Old Style.

[edit] Sources of images and ideas

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from the first edition.

Baum acknowledged the influence of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, which he was deliberately revising in his "American fairy tales" to include the wonder without the horrors.[3]

Local legend has it that Oz, also known as The Emerald City, was inspired by a prominent castle-like building in the community of Castle Park near Holland, Michigan where Baum summered. The yellow brick road was derived from a road at that time paved by yellow bricks. Baum scholars often reference the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (the "White City") as an inspiration for the Emerald City. Other legends allude that the inspiration came from the Hotel Del Coronado near San Diego, California. Baum was a frequent guest at the hotel, and had written several of the Oz books there.[4]

Another influence lay in the Alice books of Lewis Carroll. Although he found their plots incoherent, Baum identified their source of popularity as Alice herself, a child with whom the child readers could identify; this influenced his choice of a protagonist.[3]

The name "Oz" came from a file drawer labeled "O–Z" according to reports from Baum and his sons. [5]

[edit] The Gold Standard representation of the story

Some scholars have theorized that the images and characters used by Baum and Denslow closely resembled political images that were well known in the 1890s, specifically the debate of the day regarding monetary policy: the "Yellow Brick Road" represents the gold standard, the silver slippers (which were ruby slippers in the film version) represent the sixteen to one silver ratio (dancing down the road). Many other characters and story lines represent identifiable people or circumstances of the day. The wicked witches of the east and west represented the local banks and the railroad industry, respectively, both of which drove small farmers out of business. The scarecrow represents the farmers of the Populist party, who managed to get out of debt by making more silver coinage. The return to bimetalism would increase inflation, thus lowering the real value of their debts. The Tin Woodman represents the factory workers of the industrialized North, whom the Populists saw as being so hard-pressed to work grueling hours for little money that the workers had lost their human hearts and become mechanized themselves. (See Second Industrial Revolution) Toto was thought to be short for teetotaler, another word for a prohibitionist; it should be noted that William Jennings Bryan, the fiery popular candidate (possibly the Lion character) from the Populist Party, was a teetotaler himself. Bryan also fits the allegorical reference to the Cowardly Lion in that he retreated from his support of free silver after economic conditions improved in the late 1890s. However, it has also been suggested the cowardly Lion represented Wall Street investors, given the economic climate of the time. The Munchkins represented the common people (serfdom), while the emerald city represented Washington and its green-paper money delusion. The Wizard, a charlatan who tricks people into believing he wields immense power, would represent the President. The kiss from the Good Witch of the North is the electoral mandate; Dorothy must destroy the Wicked Witch of the West—the old West Coast "establishment" (money) with water (the US was suffering from drought). Moreover, "Oz" is the abbreviation for the measuring of these precious metals: ounces.

Some biographers and scholars of Baum disagree, pointing to details of Baum's biography, his own statements and writing about the purpose of his book, and the lack of contemporary press discussing these perceived metaphors. The consensus is that the books are written solely for the pleasure of Baum's younger readers, to give them a sense of possibility and imagination. [6][7]

[edit] Cultural impact

The Wizard of Oz has been translated into well over forty different languages. In some cases, the story proved so popular in other countries that it was adapted to suit the local culture. For instance, in some countries where the Hindu religion is practiced, abridged versions of the book were published in which, for religious reasons, the Tin Woodman was replaced with a snake.[8]

Russian author Alexander M. Volkov brought his own loose translation of the story to the Soviet Union in 1939 [9](the same year MGM released their film). Nowhere in Volkov's works is Baum credited, nor did he receive any money from the Soviet Union in what amounted to copyright theft. Volkov's version was published under the title The Wizard of Emerald City and the country where the story takes place was changed from Oz, to "Magic Land." Volkov also took many liberties with the text itself, editing as he saw fit, and adding a chapter in which Dorothy, now renamed Ellie, is kidnapped by a man-eating Ogre and rescued by her friends. The Wizard is renamed “James Goodwin,” the Scarecrow is called “Strasheela” (derived from a Russian word meaning “to scare”), and the Tin Woodman is now the Iron Woodman. The four witches each have new names as well: Villina (The Good Witch of the North), Gingema (The Wicked Witch of the East), Bastinda (The Wicked Witch of the West), and Stella (The Good Witch of the South). Volkov subsequently wrote his own independent series of sequels to the book, which were even more tenuously based on Baum's books, including: Urfin Jus and His Wooden Soldiers, Seven Underground Kings, The Firey God of the Marrans, The Yellow Fog, and The Secret of the Deserted Castle. Some characters in these sequels have clear origins in the original Oz books, such as Ellie's uncle Charlie Black, who is a combination of Baum's Cap'n Bill and Johnny Dooit, and Volkov's last book invokes the Forbidden Fountain. The latter three sequels feature, instead of Ellie and Toto, her younger sister Annie along with her own dog, Toto's grandson Arto, and her childhood friend Tim. Baum's original version and all of its sequels were later translated in a more faithful fashion, and Russians now see these two versions as wholly different series. In 1959, illustrations by Leonid Vladimirsky depicted Volkov's Scarecrow as short, round and tubby; his influence is evident in illustrations for translations across the Soviet bloc, where the Scarecrow is almost always portrayed in this manner. Vladimirsky has written at least two additional sequels to Alexander Volkov's alternative Oz; two more Russian authors and one German have written additional sequels to the "Magic Land" stories. The books have been faithfully translated to English by Peter Blystone as Tales of Magic Land. These last two books were previously made available as Oz books through Buckethead Enterprises of Oz, but were translated loosely to make them Oz books.

References to The Wizard of Oz (and Magic Land) are thoroughly ingrained in British, American, Russian, and many other cultures. A mere sampling of the breadth in which it is referenced includes Futurama, Family Guy and Scrubs (the former parodied it in an episode, the latter based an episode off it), The Cinnamon Bear (a 1938 radio serial), RahXephon (a 2002 Japanese animated television show), Zardoz (a 1974 Sean Connery movie), The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass (a 1997 Stephen King fantasy/Western novel), and the science fiction literature of Robert A. Heinlein, particularly The Number of the Beast. The Wizard of Oz Mystery, a murder mystery game based on the famous characters was released in 2007 from Shot In The Dark Mysteries. John Connor, a character in the Terminator series, stated that one of his favorite memories was of his mother reading him the story of the Wizard of Oz in Spanish as a child. The character of Cypher in the 1999 movie The Matrix explicitly quotes a part of a line from the original book.

In 1967, The Seekers recorded "Emerald City" in which the vocalist sings of a visit to the Emerald City. The melody of the song is "Ode an die Freude" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Some of these references, however, can be attributed more to the popularity of the 1939 film version than the original novel. MGM's classic Technicolor film version of the novel has become an ingrained part of popular culture, especially since it began to be shown annually on American television.[10]

Wicked is a revisionist look at the land and characters of Oz.

[edit] Critical response

The novel received good critical notices upon release; The New York Times wrote in September 1900:

"[The Wonderful Wizard of Oz] is ingeniously woven out of commonplace material. It is of course an extravaganza, but will surely be found to appeal strongly to child readers as well as to the younger children ... [the book] rises far above the average children's book of today, high as is the present standard."[11]

In modern times, it is widely held as a classic of children's literature; however, it has repeatedly come under fire over the years. Some religious commentators, for example, have objected to Baum's portrayal of "good witches".[7] On a more secular note, feminist author Margery Hourihan has described the book as a "banal and mechanistic story which is written in flat, impoverished prose" and dismissed the central character from the movie adaptation of the book as "the girl-woman of Hollywood".[12]

[edit] Adaptations

The Wizard of Oz has been adapted to other media numerous times, most famously in the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. Several less well-known stage and screen adaptations preceded this classic, as well as subsequent stage adaptations and sequels for theatrical release, television broadcast, and home video taking advantage of its enduring popularity. The story has also been translated into other languages (at least once without permission), and adapted into comics several times. Following the lapse of the original copyright, the characters have been adapted and reused in spin-offs, unofficial sequels, and reinterpretations, some of which have been controversial in their treatment of Baum's characters.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ On May 17, 1900 the first copy of the book came off the press; Baum assembled it by hand and presented it to his sister, Mary Louise Baum Brewster. The public saw the book for the first time at a book fair at the Palmer House in Chicago, July 5–20. The book's copyright was registered on Aug. 1; full distribution followed in September. Katharine M. Rogers, L. Frank Baum, pp. 73–94.
  2. ^ Oz Reference Home Page
  3. ^ a b Baum, L. Frank; Hearn, Michael Patrick (1973). The Annotated Wizard of Oz. New York: C.N. Potter. pp. 38. ISBN 0-517-500868. OCLC 800451. 
  4. ^ The Writer's Muse: L. Frank Baum and the Hotel del Coronado
  5. ^ - The Oz Files
  6. ^ Responses to Littlefield - The Wizard of Oz - Turn Me On, Dead Man
  7. ^ a b Gjovaag, Eric (2006). "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Frequently Asked Questions: The Books". The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Website. Retrieved on 2007-06-09. 
  8. ^ Rutter, Richard. Speech Indiana Memorial Union, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana (July 2000).
  9. ^ Friends of the Emerald City (Volkov's)
  10. ^ To See The Wizard:Oz on Stage and Film. Library of Congress, 2003.
  11. ^ "Books and Authors" (PDF). The New York Times: pp. BR12–13. 1900-09-08. Retrieved on 2008-10-29. 
  12. ^ Houihan, Margaret. Deconstructing the Hero. pp. 209. ISBN 0-415-14186-9. OCLC 36582073. 

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Wikisource has the complete text of:

The Oz books
Previous book:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Next book:
The Marvelous Land of Oz

Personal tools