Finished Reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Like many others here and around the word, I’ve watched the movie, The Wizard of Oz, many times over. But I’ve not read the book till now.

Like many others here and around the word, I’ve watched the movie, The Wizard of Oz, many times over. But I’ve not read the book till now.

Published in 1900, L. Frank Baum set out to create new fairy tales for children to enjoy. It was a conscious and conspicuous departure from European fables, like those by Aesop and the Brothers Grimm.

Written for children, the simple storytelling is no less enjoyable for this grown-up, enriched by W. W. Denslow‘s original illustrations. We all know the basic story. Kansas farm girl Dorothy, her dog, Toto and their house are whisked away by a cyclone and deposited in Oz and on the Wicked Witch of the East. Now she needs to get back home, but in order to do that, she must visit the Great and Terrible Wizard in the Emerald City. On her journey she befriends the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion. Each seeks something they have had all along. The book has many more characters and dangers than the movie with a bit more satisfying ending. Though no musicals.

Ray Bradbury provides the Introduction for the Modern Library edition I read. At the book’s end there is a list of questions for book clubs to spark discussion. Many of the questions are sensible enough — what do you think makes Oz such a timeless story; how is this fairy tale different than those that came before; what lessons can be drawn from it? But what did strike me was question #2: “What roles do money and capitalism play in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? What is valued in the land of Oz as opposed to what is valued in the real world?”

My question: Does everything have to be deconstructed this way? I’m reading here!

Anyway, have you read the book?

3 thoughts on “Finished Reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

    1. Thank you for your comment, Vinnie. I have heard that allegory before. In fact recently on a radio program. I think Oz was supposed to be William Jennings Bryan and the water that destroys the Wicked Witch represents liquidity. Unless Baum himself stated that the book was written with this intended subtext, I would have to dismiss it all.

  1. In the L. Frank Baum bio, “The Real Wizard of Oz” Rebecca Loncraine does a great job showing the parallels between Baum’s life and his masterpiece. She not only does a good job dismissing the Bryan gold standard meaning, she explains how and why Baum had no such intention.

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