Monday, June 23, 2014

The Latest Oz Reading

My wife spotted this special one-shot The Wizard of Oz magazine at our local newsstand. I went back and got a copy last week, and finished reading it this morning. Although this is commemorating seventy-five years of The Movie, it covers a lot more, and actually makes for a pretty good introduction to Oz. There are articles on L. Frank Baum and other stage and film versions of Oz. The actor profiles cover a lot more than just Oz in their careers, and there's even an article on the TV hosts of the '50s and '60s. I think they felt they had to cover the whole "Oz as Political Allegory" angle, but fortunately they picked Ranjit Dighe to write it. He's the author of The Historian's Wizard of Oz, and like in that book, he pretty much debunks the whole idea of Baum actually meaning all of the historical allusions that most people attribute to Baum, merely by looking at what Baum himself wrote and did at the time.

Sadly, however, the magazine is let down by another contributor, Rebecca Loncraine, the author of The Real Wizard of Oz, and many of the biases that plague that book show up here as well. She seems obsessed with how wars influenced Oz. She also makes a few factual mistakes, such as calling the Good Witch of the North in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Glinda, not even bothering to mention that Glinda is a different character, the Good Witch of the South, in the book. Her overview of the rest of Baum's Oz books has a few clunkers as well, such as mentioning the 1906 San Francisco earthquake in conjunction with The Scarecrow of Oz, but not the extremely obvious example in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. She also doesn't seem to realize that Tik-Tok of Oz and The Scarecrow of Oz were novelizations of earlier dramas. Still, overall, I think this was a success, and a good way of introducing the wider world of Oz to much of the world who may only know about it through watching The Movie. And in a few years, it will make for a nice souvenir of this year's milestone birthday.

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