Wednesday, August 02, 2017

The Latest Oz (and Other Places) Reading

This one has been a long time in coming, because I bought The Dictionary of Imaginary Places nearly eleven years ago! And it's not like I didn't get around to reading this until now; quite the opposite, in fact. At over 750 pages, I knew, if I wanted to read the whole thing, I'd have to take it in chunks. So somehow I came up with the figure of twenty-two pages at a time, and incorporated it into my regular reading cycles. Well, I finally wrapped it up tonight, after over a decade. Whew! It was fun. It includes all kinds of fictional locations, going as far back as Gilgamesh and Odysseus, right up to Hogwart's. (The Harry Potter series had barely started when this came out, however, so there isn't much there.) Just about every fantastic place you can think of is there, including Narnia and Neverland and Wonderland and Ruritania and Lilliput and Pellucidar and Shangri-La and Middle Earth and Xanadu and Baskerville Hall and many, many others. (Surprisingly, however, no Xanth.) It's not just limited to books, as locations from operas and movies (notably Freedonia and Skull Island) also pop up. Since the writers are Italian, there are a lot of locations from European literature that haven't quite made it into English-speaking consciousness, which is actually part of the appeal.

But is Oz in there, too? Of course, otherwise I doubt I'd even give this the time of day. Unfortunately, only Baum's first seven books and Queen Zixi of Ix are covered. Even then, not a lot of the locations in some of those books are included, which is perfectly understandable for space. But there are a few questionable tidbits in the Oz entries that did make it. The big one is that Mr. Pumpkinhead's first name is given as Tim! But overall this has been an enjoyable decade of reading it, and I'm glad I undertook the task.

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