The Oz books vs. the movie
- Although it's written in a dull style, and Baum did not polish his
writing (sometimes I'm not sure he did more than a first draft), the
book is very much better than you describe, and it was already a
major landmark in American fantasy by the time the 1939 movie came
out, with 20-plus sequels by Baum and Thompson. _The Marvelous Land
of Oz_ and some of the later sequels are actually better than the
first book, though all of the books contain dull passages. But it's
not the movie that has sunk into the consciousnessess of many science
fiction and fantasy writers, such as Gene Wolfe ("The Eyeflash
Miracles") or Philip Jose Farmer or children's fantasists like Edward
Eager, and helped shape and inspire their writing. Or see such
critics as Brian Attebery or Roger Sale (his defense of _The Road to
Oz_ in _Fairy Tales & After: From Snow White to E.B. White_ is
interesting). I don't know the book you mentioned, it's not one of
the famous 40 cannonical books, but some recent sequels by Sherwood
Smith and Edward Einhorn (both MythSoc members, I think) are among
the finest written. I'll bet there's another 40 or more books,
written and published by devoted fans of these books, fans who often
dislike the '39 movie (more fools they). These books would not have
been forgotten in the absence of the '39 movie, and the reissues of
the 14 Baum books were much beloved by my daughter in the '90s,
though she also loved the John Bellairs and Sherwood Smith "Wren" books.
To be honest, I never offered my daughter Frank Stockton's marvelous
and beautifully written stories, but frankly, I don't think she would
have appreciated them. And he's much more forgotten today, I'm
afraid, with the exception of a couple of stories. Style may be the
most important aspect of literature, or maybe it makes the difference
between the truly great and the lesser lasting works, but Baum yields
nothing to Stockton in the exploration of fantasy and many ideas he
crammed into his books.
I do think that the ruby slippers were an improvement on the silver
shoes, in terms of their appearance on the technicolor screen, and
unlike the unfortunate transformations about which people have been
complaining in Jackson's films, I think that the '39 Oz movie
sacrificed nothing in the process. I wasn't a bit bothered by the
reuse of them in place of the Magic Belt in the '70s film, _Return to
Oz_, also excellent--if flawed, by the way.
I wish that I could say that I've only once fallen asleep while
reading aloud. I admire your stamina. I don't think I could get
through _Good Night, Moon_ (which is pretty short for any of those
who don't have children) some nights. Fortunately, that was behind
us by the time we began _The Hobbit_ or _The Wonderful Wizard of Oz_.
Oh, and when I first read _Wizard_, in about 3rd grade, I have to
admit that I agreed with your opinion of it. I was so much older then.
On Dec 5, 2006, at 8:47 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Posted by: "John D Rateliff" sacnoth@... sacnoth32
Tue Dec 5, 2006 10:00 am (PST)
On Dec 5, 2006, at 5:44 AM, Beth Russell wrote:
> How many people know the difference between silver
> shoes and
> ruby slippers?
I do: the shoes come from a rather dull book published in 1900 and
the slippers from a wonderful movie made in 1939. Almost every famous
line comes out of the latter, not the former. If it weren't for the
film, the book (& its interminable string of sequels,* authorized and
otherwise) would today be a minor historical footnote, like the (far
superior) work of Frank Stockton. So, not a good parallel for the
case of JRRT's (superlative) book and Jackson's (very good) movie.
2095 Hamline Ave. N.
Roseville, MN 55113
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