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Reviewed by:
  • Wonderful Wizard Marvelous Land
  • David L. Greene (bio)
Wonderful Wizard Marvelous Land, by Raylyn Moore. Preface by Ray Bradbury. (Bowling Green University Popular Press, $9.95 cloth, $4.50 paper.)

The publication of Wonderful Wizard Marvelous Land is a sign of the increasing attention scholars in children's literature are giving L. Frank Baum and his Oz books. Mrs. Moore's book, despite some serious flaws, is one of the most important Baum studies to appear.

Mrs. Moore analyzes Baum's Oz stories as they relate to the counterculture of the 1960s, as they were influenced by Baum's life, and in terms of their mythic significance. Unfortunately, much of what she says is undercut by frequent factual errors. These errors range from minor (Baum's famous magnified insect, H. M. Wogglebug, T. E., becomes T. E. Wogglebug, H. M., on page 21) to major (the plot of The Lost Princess of Oz is attributed to The Magic of Oz on page 104). Sometimes Mrs. Moore creates doubt when none is called for. For instance, she says on page 170, shortly after she uses Rinkitink in Oz (1916) as an example of Baum's later Oz books, that "some sources say that it was an earlier story pulled into the series with minor rewriting." That Rinkitink was written around 1905 has been known since 1961, when Russell P. MacFall reported it in To Please a Child (p. 198). The book is mentioned as King Rinkitink in a contract of 28 June 1906 between Baum and his publisher (in fairness to Mrs. Moore, I should mention that this contract has not yet been published). Again, Mrs. Moore is the only Baum scholar who remains uncertain that The Royal Book of Oz (1921), which was published under Baum's name and "enlarged and edited" by Baum's successor Ruth Plumly Thompson, is entirely Miss Thompson's work. Another unpublished contract exists stating that Miss Thompson was to write an Oz book to be published under Baum's name, but if Mrs. Moore is unaware of this contract, surely she could have asked Miss Thompson herself. Miss Thompson, who now lives in Malvern, Pennsylvania, has given assurance that she used no Baum notes in writing the book and that crediting it to Baum was a publisher's gimmick to ease the transition between the two authors. Mrs. Moore makes a serious error when she suggests on page 186 that there is "reason to believe much of the final writing" of Baum's post-humous [End Page 192] Glinda of Oz (1920) "was done by Ruth Plumly Thompson." There is no justification at all for this statement, which Mrs. Moore is the first to make (but I fear not the last, since it appears in a major scholarly work). As MacFall states in To Please a Child (p. 236), the original longhand manuscript of Glinda survives in the possession of Baum's granddaughter. Peter E. Hanff of the Bancroft Library has examined the manuscript and informs me that it is entirely in Baum's holograph and is the book as it was published. Though Mrs. Moore frequently cites The Baum Bugle, I suspect that most of the factual problems in her study could have been avoided if she had had access to a complete file of that journal. Most of the errors are minor (there are many I have not mentioned), but readers should check every fact in Wonderful Wizard Marvelous Land by more reliable sources.

Mrs. Moore's interpretations, however, make up for her factual problems. Her interpretation of Baum's life is the most astute and sensitive yet to appear, and her comparisons of Baum's fantasies with myths and mythic devices from several cultures comprise a major contribution to Baum criticism. Her comments are admittedly suggestive rather than conclusive; hopefully, Mrs. Moore and other Baum critics will build on her important suggestions. Occasionally Mrs. Moore does not present adequate evidence for her judgments. She condemns, for example, Baum's magazine stories as generally "little better than [his] adult novels" (p. 72) on the basis of only four of over twenty such stories; she does not discuss at all his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-3374
Print ISSN
0092-8208
Pages
pp. 192-193
Launched on MUSE
2009-01-01
Open Access
No
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