Sunday, December 18, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

The next tale in A New Wonderland is "The Civilized Monkeys", and it is definitely a satirical story. Prince Zingle, it turns out, is an avid kite flyer, so he makes a huge kite that carries him out of Phunnyland entirely. He finally lands in a country of civilized monkeys, that dress up in clothes and put on airs and put Zingle in a zoo. There, he is studied by scientists who declare him to be the missing link, a member of the mysterious species Homo Peculiaris. Escape looks impossible, until a new baby hippopotamus at the zoo draws everyone's attention away, and Zingle finds that he is able to slip through the bars, having not been properly fed for several days. The winds being in his favor, the kite takes him back to Phunnyland, and he decides he's had enough of both kites and travel for many, many years.

This is clearly a spoof of Darwin and evolution, but I'm not certain if Baum agrees with him or not! Even more stark is his skewering of academia (a theme he would later visit in the Oz books with Professor Wogglebug). Sadly, we don't see much of the Monkey's civilization, as Zingle only sees the zoo, nor is he there long enough for the Monkey's to learn his language (nor he learn theirs).

Only two more tales to go, and they're connected!

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