Sunday, December 04, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

The reading of A New Wonderland continues with Duchess Bredenbutta and "A Visit to Turveyland", where a boating accident causes her to visit that land where everything is backwards. The Turveylanders are kind and hospitable enough, but Bredenbutta is so put off by their walking on their hands, using their feet to handle objects, laughing when they are sad and upset or crying when they are happy that she is quite happy when they find a way to send her home. As fun as this is (it's all reminiscent of Bizarro World in old Superman comics), the logic of Turveyland breaks down pretty quickly if you start thinking about it too hard. We are not told what Bredenbutta eats with Upsydoun and his family during her dinner with them, but let's hope it wasn't rocks and sand! (Perhaps it was the opposite of dinner, which would make it breakfast. That sounds much nicer!) The really weird part is how the Turveylanders look out their noses, talk though their ears, smelled with his eyes, and heard with his mouth. That would just look weird! (Then again, the Turveylanders were completely confused by how the Duchess did everything, so I guess it all depends on your perspective.) I think Baum was probably trying to invoke Alice's encounter with the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass, but Baum probably needed a longer story and Bredenbutta more time it Turveyland to really establish how things work there. (Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself that these are some of the very first stories Baum ever wrote, andit often shows.) Finally, I suspect the only reason the protagonist of this story is Duchess Bredenbutta is that Baum came up with the name and liked it. She has almost no personality or character, and really exists only as a vehicle to encounter Turveyland. There's no reasn this couldn't have been one of the Princesses we've already met (I think Truella, with her perseverance, quick wits, and adaptability, would have been an excellent choice.) To sum things up, this is a harmless little story, and certainly amusing, but as Bredenbutta does little more than visit, have dinner, and leave again, then doesn't appear in the book again, it's possibly one of the weakest and least consequential stories in the entire book.

No comments: