Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Latest Oz Reading

This was a two-for-one deal, as I bought a book set recently. This was just as much an investment as it was something I really wanted to get, and despite some financial issues right now, Laura and I decided to go for it. Cyclone on the Prairies: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Arts & Crafts Publishing in Chicago, 1900 by my friend, Peter E. Hanff, and its companion, A Bookbinder's Analysis of the First Edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by my friend Michael O. Riley was published five years ago in a limited slipcased edition by the Book Club of California. It recently sold out there, so I thought it would be best to get it now before it gets too far out of my reach. And I am quite glad I did, because Cyclone is a gorgeous book, taking a hard, close look at the circumstances that led to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz being published in Chicago, the state of the publishing industry in Chicago at that time, and the actual process of printing the book. I very much doubt I will ever own a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but I've seen enough of them that I can certainly appreciate all that went into it. Hanff also prints many plates, including untrimmed examples of all of the book's color plates, with some variants, as well as original art. The book also goes over the process of turning W. W. Denslow's art into the required printing plates, and the technical issues involved. In short, it is the story behind the publication of one of the most important children's books in American history. And Riley's accompanying volume is equally engrossing (if you are engrossed by this sort of thing), as it is a new bibliographic description of that first edition. There has always been some confusion about many bibliographic points of the first edition, and Riley takes advantage of examining many, many different copies of the book to create the definitive (for now) description, noting where the text change between the two major states. This is all very helpful to many, but all just curiosities to me — for now!

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