Saturday, October 30, 2004

Wizard of Oz p1

30 Oct 04 Wiz of Oz 1

For kids everywhere, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with its pumpkin-headed scarecrow represents escape from dull reality and the doldrums of pragmatic living with its bleak black and white views on humanity. Controversial, L Frank Baum's books lend themselves to new literary commentary, examining them within their historical frame and in light of political nd philosophical movements of their day. For those who are unread, the title recalls the 1939 film with Judy Garland as Dorothy, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Frank Morgan as Wizard and Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch and the lyrics of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" reflecting the evanescent American Dream of success.

Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919) was born in New York to a successful oilman, Benjamin Ward Baum and the ardent feminist, Cynthia Stanton Baum. He was home tutored until twelve when he was shipped off unmercifully to Peterskill Military Academy where he learn to hate military discipline. A precocious writer, he was writing stories, dramas and musicals even in his teens, producing the Rose Lawn Journal when he was fifteen from the estate in Chittenango. Seeing his propensity towards theater, his father provided support and houses for Baum to establish his own troupe. However, the stock market crash in the eighties, brought with it financial disaster for the Baum family. Adopting his father's pragmatism, Baum tried nearly aspect of commercial business without success, including a general store in Aberdeen, Dakota Territory and establishing the National Association of Window Trimmers and becoming the editor-publisher of Show Windows from 1897-1902.

In 1873, he tried was a journalist for the New York World, which was also the origin of another famous children's writer, Thornton Burgess and his long-standing partnership with Harrison Cady and the Mother West Wind books. In 1875, Baum was in Pennsylvania raising chickens and editing the Poultry Record. In 1882, his life changed as he formed a lifetime partnership with Maud Gage, his wife and business manager, keeping him on a safer road of domestic stability and success. With Maud, he had four sons; but his works are dominated by heroines. His wife, too was an ardent feminist, influencing Baum in the presentation of his novels and political involvement. In 1888, they moved to Aberdeen, Dakota territory where he tried to apply himself in business by opening a general store which failed.This period becomes the background for Dorothy's bleak Kansas with its drab, worn-out atmosphere. They remained there for two eyars befoer returning to Chicago where they were involved in the Populist Movement, taking part in the torchlight parades of William Jennings Bryan. The Wizard of Oz is interpreted as both a political and mystical allegory, with parallels alluding to Democratic Populism or Theosophy. In his essay, The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism, Henry M Littlefield argues persuasively of Baum's political involvement reflected in the symbolism of the main characters and their attributes. Other literary critics recognize the hidden symbolism of Theosophy as the Tin Man is in search of a heart, the Cowardly Lion, courage and the Scarecrow, a mind. The argument of heart versus mind is ancient, traced back to Plato's Charmides. The pumpkin-headed figure is also relatively ancient, possibly traced back to the Pumpkinification of Claudius by Seneca. The symbols lend themselves easily of either political or mystical interpretations with fundamental Christian moralists eschewing Baum as morally corrupt and an adherrent to New Age mentality. They perceive his ability to translate mystical symbolism into children's literature as dangerous as he divides divides the world into four essences following the medieval alchemists with the Masonic/ Theosophical search for Light.

The Tin Man represents the heart—the feminine nature of mankind
The Scarecrow represents the mind—the masculine nature of mankind
while the Lion represents courage or the application of both to one's environment.

The fairy world is divided into four domains:

Air: sylphs or winged fairies (Lulea in Queen Zixie of Oz; Lurline in The Tin Woodman of Oz)

Water: nymphs or undines (Aquareine in The Sea Fairies and the waterfairies in The Scarecrow of Oz)

Earth: gnomes (King Nome and the nomes in The Kidnapping of Santa Claus and The life and Adventures of Santa Claus)

Fire: salamanders (Demon of Electiricty in The Master Key and the Lovely Lady of Light in Tik-Tok of Oz)

Furthermore, Baum destroys the monochrome image of black and white completely by rejecting the concept of absolute evil versus absolute good. There are two sides to everything, and no evil is completely bad; all of his characters have a weakness that contribute to their undoing. A mystic, he understands that the tree of knowledge of good and evil was planted in the garden before the creation of man; therefore good and evil always co-existed, but man through taking a bite learned of its bitterness.

Kirjasto: L Frank Baum
short bio listing some of his 69 works
chief pseudonyms: Hugh Fitzgerald, Edith Van Dyne, Schuyler Stanton, Suzanne Metcalf, John Estes Cook, Floyd Akers, Louis F Gottschalk (two musicals) and Byron Gay

Theosophical Society:
Five Essays on the Wizard of Oz

L Frank Baum Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Baum, L. Frank (Lyman Frank), 1856-1919 . The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Text Center, University of Virginia Library

Baum and the not-So Wonderful Oz
a peculiar look at Baum through Christian fundamentalism, revealing the reasons why Baum is frequently boycotted and banned by puritanical moralists

For Text
University of Virginia Young Reader's Collection The Marvellous Land of Oz
scroll to Baum Palm or MS Reader

Gutenberg index L Frank Baum works

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Teaching materials

Baum: Teacher's Resource Page
has files for teaching and reading L Frank Baum

LOC Exhibit, The Wizard of Oz: An American Fairytale

Richard Brown: Oz FAQs
a list of questions generally asked obout the book

Other Places

International Wizard of Oz Club
memberhsip, books, conventions, publications, reference, Oz resources
The International Wizard of Oz Club
P.O. Box 26249
San Francisco, CA 94126-6249

UC San Diego History of the Wizard of Oz
with book jacket illustrations

Tech Association
Wizard of Oz

Teach-Nology: Baum
resources and links for teaching Baum's Wizard of Oz

Oz Central

Suite101 Janet Kay Blaycock


Kidnapped Santa Claus


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