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Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum
Long before Judy Garland sang "Over the Rainbow", the denizens of Oz had already captivated the American reading public. The quintessential American fairy tale, L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has had a singular influence on our culture since it first appeared in 1900. Yet, as Michael Riley shows, Baum's achievement went far beyond this one book, or even the thi ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 1st 1997 by University Press of Kansas
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An excellent overview of the Baum's extended fairy tale universe. I'm just starting to read more about Baum and I had no idea that, after writing several different fairy tales with their own lands, he decided to incorporate them into his Oz tales and have these lands border Oz itself. I would have liked the book to have gone into more detail on the rest of the official 40 Oz books, but since the focus was on Baum I'm not going to fault the book for that.
A quick read. Somehow I was expecting something more dense, with impenetrable prose and bristling with footnotes, but this book turns out to be not that academic. It's more of an affectionate summary of the plots of all of Baum's fantasy books (not just the Oz ones). A couple of times the author raises the thesis that Baum's vision of Oz is actually more coherent than is generally thought, but this is so manifestly indefensible that one wonders why he bothers. Riley is most interesting when he w ...more
A surprisingly light read. The focus of the Riley's book is on examining the development of Baum's "American fairyland" over his career; to that end, Riley looks at each of Baum's fantasies, Oz and otherwise, analyzing the themes, elements, and passages of prose that contribute to the somewhat contradictory but always distinctly American vision Baum came to espouse. That line of investigation is extremely interesting, even if it can sometimes come off as rather "bitty," especially when discussin ...more
I guess all I can say is that it was a biography. This book did not get my mind running, and wanting to continue. It was good though. L. Frank Baum's life was pretty interesting. Two thirds of this book was all about the books he wrote. This book explains Baum's life but as you can tell by two thirds of this being about his books, not thoroughly explaining in detail about L. Frank Baum. I do not like expository stuff. Mainly fiction where much detail can be found. If you are that way and only re ...more
Not a bad read, especially if you are interested in the life of the creator of America's first true fairy tale. My only complaint is that the author wrote with perhaps too much of his own opinion for a biographical book. However, still interesting information on an interesting person. Baum was an American treasure with a long-lasting impact that I am not sure even that great dreamer could have imagined!
Sep 11, 2009 Steven rated it really liked it
A good overview and linking together of Baum's OZ and other children's books. The book itself is mostly a synopsis and discussion of Baum's books with recommendations on which books are strongest/weakest and why. The bibliography alone is great for helping find research books on 19th and 20th century children's books or early fantasies.