Oz in Perspective

Magic and Myth in the L. Frank Baum Books

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About the Book

When moviegoers accompany Dorothy through the gates of the Emerald City, they may think they have discovered all there is to see of Oz—but as real friends of the Wizard know, more lies behind the curtain. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, on which the 1939 film was based, was only the first of 14 Oz books. Together these works constitute a series rich in allusions to a broad range of literary traditions, including fairy tale, myth, epic, the picaresque novel, and visions of utopia.
Reflecting on L. Frank Baum’s entire series of full-length Oz books, this study introduces readers to the great folklorist who created not only Dorothy and friends, but countless wonderful characters who still await discovery. Close analysis of each book invites readers to search Baum’s fascinating stories for meaning and mythical quality. Progressing chronologically through the canon, the author discusses literary devices and important thematic implications in each book, arguing that Baum wrote for the pleasure of both children and adults, both to provide entertainment and to teach moral lessons. Of particular significance is the argument, sustained over several chapters, that Baum modeled his Oz books on classic mythical patterns, rewriting Oz history in nearly every book to produce a different set of backgrounds and a different conception of utopia for his imaginary kingdom. This variety of backgrounds and archetypes gives Baum’s books a truly universal appeal. Examinations of his non-Oz books and his other Oz works, such as Little Wizard Stories of Oz and The Woggle-Bug Book, illuminate the discussion of the Oz novels.

About the Author(s)

Richard Tuerk is a professor of Literature and Languages at Texas A&M University–Commerce. Formerly a president of the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), the American Studies Association of Texas and the Southwest Regional Popular Culture Asociation, he has written numerous journal articles on literature.

Bibliographic Details

Richard Tuerk
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 241
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2899-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8291-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

L. Frank Baum’s Fourteen Full-Length Oz Books      xi

Preface      1

Introduction      5

1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

DOROTHY’S TIMELESS ADVENTURE      21

2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

THE WIZARD HIMSELF      35

3. The Marvelous Land of Oz

TIP’S PROGRESS      45

4. Ozma of Oz

THE FIRST UNDERGROUND JOURNEY      59

5. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

BAUM’S INFERNO      76

6. The Road to Oz

BAUM’S PICARESQUE      91

7. The Emerald City of Oz

GOODBYE TO KANSAS, GOODBYE TO OZ      101

8. The Patchwork Girl of Oz

SAVING UNC NUNKIE      113

9. Tik-Tok of Oz, The Scarecrow of Oz, Rinkitink in Oz

“EXCITING ADVENTURES,” “UNEXPECTED

DIFFICULTIES,” “MARVELOUS ESCAPES”      121

10. The Lost Princess of Oz

RESCUING PERSEPHONE      137

11. The Tin Woodman of Oz

BAUM’S ODYSSEY      147

12. The Magic of Oz

MAGIC AND POLITICS IN OZ      156

13. Glinda of Oz

BAUM’S TALE OF DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE      171

14. Boundaries

OZ AS SACRED SPACE      179

15. Baum’s Oz

(DYS)(EU)(U)TOPIA?      191

Conclusion      204

Notes      209

Bibliography      219

Index      227

Book Reviews

Finalist, Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies—The Mythopoeic Society
“useful”—Journal of American Culture.