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Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

It isn't often a book grabs me so fully that I have to read it right to the end without pause. Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris is one of those though. It is curious More »

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – A few months on.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – A few months on.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about joining the beta test for Square Enix‘s new MMO: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. In the subsequent months it has been launched and I find More »

The world of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Ozian cannon

The world of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Ozian cannon

There are few households that haven’t heard of the Wizard of OZ, and the franchise has gone in a multitude of directions, most recently the major Hollywood film: Oz the great and More »

Literature Discussion: Will Self’s Dorian, an imitation

Literature Discussion: Will Self’s Dorian, an imitation

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Literature discussion: Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Literature discussion: Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray

For many years, I have wanted to read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.  It has intrigued me mostly because I cannot remember when I learnt of its story. I knew I More »

Book Review: Going Out by Scarlett Thomas.

Book Review: Going Out by Scarlett Thomas.

Going Out by Scarlet Thomas, is a strange novel, one that will enthral, confuse entertain and frustrate. Based around the exploits of Luke and Julie(t) and a mishmash circle of friends. The More »

After A Memory of Light: The end of The Wheel of Time

After A Memory of Light: The end of The Wheel of Time

Twelve years ago, on a dusty shelf in the back of a library I found a novel called The Eye of the world. It was a lofty volume but I thought i More »

After Six years of playing World of Warcraft has the end finally come?

After Six years of playing World of Warcraft has the end finally come?

Back in January 2007 an old friend of mine introduced me to World of Warcraft. I recall with relish, his excitement over the release of the first Expansion: the Burning Crusade. More »

Book Review: The Age of Five Trilogy

Book Review: The Age of Five Trilogy

The Age of the Five Trilogy by Trudi Canavan is the second series written by the Australian fantasy author.  While set as a trilogy of three volumes; Priestess Of The White, Last More »

 

The world of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Ozian cannon

There are few households that haven’t heard of the Wizard of OZ, and the franchise has gone in a multitude of directions, most recently the major Hollywood film: Oz the great and powerful. There has also been the highly successful spin off book series, Wicked  by Gregory Maguire which has also been reworked into the highly acclaimed west-end musical. We’ve had two films, The Wizard of Oz and Return to Oz and the mini series aired on the Syfy channel Tin Man. All of these have bred a treasure trove of topes and imagery that can all be traced back to L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Each of these have contributed to the large Ozian cannon that we have been exposed to, but in truth, they are but the tip of an iceberg of Ozian literature that can be found right across our entertainment spheres.  It was this that first inspired me to go back to the source and question how has one story, transmigrated into so many different forms? What is it about the novel that gives us the need, or rather the inspiration to transform it into something new?

Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,  is a novel that is at its best interesting and at its worst, dull. The story is reasonable at first glance; a simple quest from a lost girl to get home. But read between the lines of Baum’s overly simplistic prose and you find a wealth of story and imagination Oz-the-Great-and-Powerful-oz-the-great-and-powerful-33988086-1735-1301that seems to have never got onto the page. The truth is, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is ultimately about friendship and supporting each other in gaining their goals,(something modern man seems to have forgot, it seems.) but the problem with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is that Baum has made his prose so simplistic it borders on the imbecilic. The jewels of imagination and creativity are given a complete whitewash of mundane and aside from the pretty and rather colourful descriptions, we are left with a lot of good ideas that require effort to be seen. The story itself is very linear, and is utterly told. There is nothing for the reader to work at, nothing to grasp, no sense of wonder, all a mere plod in the park, and a slow one at that. It is almost inconceivable that the story has become the sensational hit that it is. But then, the story itself is not at fault, merely the rendering. One thing that is abundantly clear is that the subsequent film versions stuck relatively close to the concepts offered by the novel. It would seem that despite Baum’s absolute atrocious writing style, the novel still manages to encapsulate a sense of worth, accorded, one could say, by the depth of his creativity.

the-wizard-of-oz-dvd-cover-63The Wizard of Oz, strangely has become a success, not because of the novel, but rather because in 1939, that novel was turned into a film. Of course it can be argued that without the book, the film would not exist, but when many of the recognisable tropes of the cannon are derived directly from the 1939 film; for instance, Dorothy’s mystical Ruby slippers are a central trope of the cannon, and yet, in the novel they were silver. The concept of “over the rainbow” comes entirely from Gloria Gaynor’s song, which in later years has given rise to the colloquial phrase, “Are you a friend of Dorothy?” a subtle way for the  LGB&T community to ask “are you gay” when persecution was rife amongst society.  Perhaps it is also the origin of the rainbow LGB&T flag that controversially seems to hound the lives of religious heterosexuals? Indeed, it is not hard to see that The Wizard of Oz is successful not because of the book, but rather, the film and that is but merely, scraping the tip of a very large, very flamboyant, pink iceberg.

Essentially, reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been a deflating and sad experience, one that I do not wish to repeat ever, but it is also heartening to find, at least, one novel that wasn’t destroyed by the ravenous gaze of the film industry.

 

Write Soon

Steven

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Wicked can be purchased from Waterstones by clicking below.

9781843913900

wickednovel cover

To see where Wicked the Musical is currently showing, click the image below.

After The Sunset

What are your thoughts?