Friday, October 22, 2010

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

A photograph of a cloth book cover. The text reads "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz By Frank L. Baum Pictures by W. W. Denslow" in red and green. The backdrop is beige and shows a bespectacled cartoon lion with a small bow in its mane, also in red and green.
One of the most well known American stories, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Chicago; New York: G. M. Hill Co., 1900) was first published in 1900 and has spawned many companion books and adaptations, including the classic 1939 film.  It chronicles the adventures of Dorothy and her famous companions - the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion - through the land of Oz where they encounter Munchkins, witches, flying monkeys, and other bizarre creatures.

According to the introduction, Baum intended the book to be a departure from the "historical" tales of old.  He wrote "the time has come for a series of newer 'wonder tales' in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf, and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incident," adding "It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out."

An illustration mostly in blue on a green backdrop, of a girl perched on a fence and looking at a scarecrow. A small dog also leans against the fence and there is a basket on the ground.
Dorthy Meets the Scarecrow
More recently, author Gregory Maguire has revisited the land of Oz in his book Wicked (New York: ReganBooks, 1995).  This revisionist adaptation returns to a darker, more Grimm-like context, where the morality of the characters and their actions is explored and certainly contrasts with Baum's attempt to "dispense with all disagreeable incident."  To learn more, come hear a talk by Maguire this Sunday, October 24, in Alumni Hall in the Hopkins Center at 3:00 PM, co-sponsored by the Friends of the Dartmouth College Library.

Ask for Rare Book PS 3503 .A923 W59 1900 to see the first edition from 1900.

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