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The Oz Books as Allegory

L. Frank Baum created a magical place in his book The Wizard of Oz and in the many subsequent books he wrote about this fantastic land to which the Kansas farm girl, Dorothy, was transported by a tornado. Baum wrote 13 Oz books, and the books were carried on after his death by others so that another 19 books were added in the 19 years after Baum's death (Harmetz 292).

Lyman Frank Baum was 43 years old when he wrote the first Oz book. In 1899 he wrote a book then titled The Emerald City, and he took it to the George M. Hill Publishing Co. in Chicago, Illinois. The book was indeed an instant success and sold out its first edition of 10,000 copies in two weeks. Some 90,000 copies were sold during 1900 and 1901. The book has never been out of print, and by 1956, when the copyright was extended, 4,195,667 copies had been sold: "Baum had managed to do successfully what he had set out to do: write a modern fairy tale. And without intending it or knowing it, he had written a psychological fairy tale" (Harmetz 294). The seductive theme of the story is embodied in the Wizard who turns out to be powerless. Also important to the success of the story are the clever Scarecrow, the kind Woodman, and the brave Lion who search diligently for things they already possess (Harmetz 294-295).

The continuing popularity of the Oz books has also been maintained in spite of certain inconsistencies and paradoxes in the writing. It has done so because Baum knew his audience and always put forth the essential theme of youthful entertainment: "Yet once discovered, the author's allegorical intent seems clear, and it gives depth and lasting interest even to children who only sense something else beneath the surface of the story" (Littlefield 58). This allegorical content includes a populist message related to countering the gold standard, with Washington as the Emerald City:

According to Littlefield, Baum, a reformminded Democrat who supported...

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The Oz Books as Allegory. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:02, July 04, 2022, from