Top positive review
Can be read on two levels
on 15 July 2013
This edition is from the Penguin Threads series, which is an extension of the Penguin Deluxe Classics series. As I’ve said in previous reviews, these are sumptuous editions which greatly enhance the reading experience. The cover for this edition is essentially a piece of embroidery, first drawn, then hand-stitched and finally ‘sculpt embossed’. The result is stunning.
The Wizard of Oz (or ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ as it was originally titled) is one of those books, like Frankenstein or Dracula, which is integral to our cultural experience, transformed through film interpretation and misinterpretation so that our understanding bears little resemblance to the original, and of which few people have actually read the original. The need to ‘see for myself’ was therefore my main motivation for reading it. The narrative is heavily influenced by oral myth, fable, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the work of the likes of Hans Christian Andersen. It is essentially a simple story of a young American girl, Dorothy, who is swept off to a strange and unsettling land, where she faces trials of character and tests of perception before confronting the not-so mystical Wizard of Oz before returning to her own land. Oz, as is explained in the Introduction, is the embodiment of Baum’s vision for a socialist Utopian society where there is little or no war or hunger, avarice or greed and no need for money. Much like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it can be read on two levels; either as an entertaining children’s story filled with an almost inexhaustible cast of incredible and fantastical characters, or it can be read for its sub-textual commentary and indictment of American and capitalist society.
Little did I know before reading The Wizard of Oz, that Baum in fact wrote 14 Oz novels over the course of 20 years. So, if you love Oz and all that it represents, there are plenty more Oz stories to get your teeth into.