Oz in the News 3.15.13

hidden-valley-ozA Literary History Of Oz  As an inspirational aside to struggling writers who don’t happen to be 22-year-old wunderkind: Note that Baum—who ultimately gave us one of the most beloved stories of all time—wrote his first book (let’s not count the instructional volume on chicken rearing he put out when he was 30), at the age of forty-one. This after years spent raising fancy chickens, starting a poultry journal, running a variety store, selling fireworks, and editing a magazine about department store window displays. The first of his fourteen Oz books was published when he was 44. Baum wrote a total of fifty-five novels (fourteen Oz-related and the rest less-successful fantasy and fairy tales), more than eighty short stories (including six Little Wizard Stories Of Oz for younger readers), and an untold number of stage plays, poems, and odd tomes about stamp dealing, poultry, and decorating windows. It’s never too late to chase the dream.

What ‘Oz’ Owes To Early Radical Feminism  Frank Baum was unusually well-connected to one of the more radical figures in early American feminism. He’d married a woman named Maud Gage, whose mother, Matilda Joslyn Gage, was a feminist who worked alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But Matilda Gage was more than a simple suffragette or birth control activist; she was a philosopher and a theosophist as well as a historian. She believed in reincarnation, and developed an entire theory that “man” had suppressed traces of an earlier history of matriarchy, particularly among First Nations people.

James Franco: The Cynical Wizard of Oz  Will pop culture ever tire of this trope? It’s a rehash of the end of The Dark Knight, and like the similarly eye-popping Life of Pi, it’s an attempt to illustrate the practical use of religion. Lies are like witches, and a good one yields salvation. This is the note we end on (while keeping things entirely open for a sequel, which is apparently already happening) and it’s just like when Dorothy Gale realized she needn’t look any further than her back yard to find her heart’s desire. This idea was already waiting for us in the multiplex. That we already knew all of it underscores how unneeded this mildly enjoyable revenue generator of a prequel really is.

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