Book – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Author – L. Frank Baum
Year – 1900
Genre – Classic Childrens Fantasy
First, a plug. The reason that I read this particular book is that at the moment I am rehearsing to perform as the Scarecrow in a production of The Wizard of Oz. Come and see me in it, because having read the book that the show is based on I am all the more excited about it.
I struggle a lot with ‘classic literature’. Offer me a Dickens or an Austen and you find that I cannot connect with the way of writing, or the general style of most of these books. This was not an issue at all with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The story is wonderful (and much more involved than that of the film), the characters adorable, and the writing quite brilliant. Everyone knows the characters and their plights already – be in the brainless Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman with no heart, the big cowardly Lion, or poor lost little Dorothy – but the subtle and not so subtle nods to these problems in even the most innocuous of lines makes you feel as though you are learning about the characters all over again.
I must admit that I was not expecting much from this book, which I assumed must surely have dated terribly, but I am very glad that I was proven wrong, and intend to try and get myt hands on some of the later Oz books now.
Some interesting(ish) Oz facts. Baum kept trying to move away from writing books set in Oz, but due to poor sales of his other books, and a strong public support for the series, he wrote a total of 13. After his death, dozens more were written by several different authors putting the final total of cannonical Oz books at forty, with plenty more surrounding it even then. My favourite thing I have found recently though, is that the name Elphaba to refer to the Wicked Witch was created by the musicals writer as a tribute to L. Frank Baum – it is a phonetic pronounciation of his initials!
DAODS Website for details of my show! – http://www.daods.co.uk/