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THE WIZARD OF OZ AS A PARABLE.

THE WIZARD OF OZ AS A PARABLE. Steve Adams. GFENC Productions. 222 pp. ISBN 9781514847374. $14.95

ERSTWHILE COMMUNITY COLLEGE GEOLOGY instructor Steve Adams of North Carolina has crafted a study of L. Frank Baum's 1900 fantasy that must leap a high hurdle."I wish to disclose from the outset that I cannot quote from the movie 'The Wizard of Oz'," Adams writes in the first words of his preface. "The license fee is formidable. [...] Nor can I use terms and phrases exclusive to the movie that differ in the book. [...] I must stick to the book's terminology for the 'Tin Woodman' and the 'road of yellow bricks.' In the book, Dorothy's slippers were silver. I will call them the 'red slippers'."

Adams's attempt to find a spiritual paradigm in a work of make-believe is less egregious than the horrid Chicken Soup for the Hobbit Soul but far less lucid than Presbyterian minister Robert L. Short's 1965 best-selling The Gospel According to Peanuts. Adams drops a boggling pantheon of names: Joseph Campbell, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, P.L. Travers, and William Shakespeare. His religious sources include Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Quakers. On the cover, the Tin Woodman is posed as Buddha meditating.

Adams's sources make claims as staggering as his own assertions; he quotes Wayne Purdin, who says "The silver slippers ... represent our direct connection to the white fire of Mother Earth through the base chakra, which is the seat of kundalini energy" (48). Occasionally Adams oversimplifies; for example, when he states that the lion Aslan of C.S. Lewis's Narnia chronicles represents God (120). A more distinguishing view is that Aslan symbolizes the crucified and reborn Christ.

But The Wizard of Oz, like Aesop's elephant felt by blind men, can mean many things to many readers. (1) To this reader, this Procrustean project is less convincing than other interpretations. Oz completists may find some value in Adams' book, which could be called Chicken Soup for the Scarecrow Soul. This reader did not.

Adams's parable is not what Baum ever intended. Some see wizards and gods in the clouds that are simply clouds.

--Mike Foster

(1) For example, the theory espoused by Hugh Rockoff that the tale is an allegory for debates on the Gold Standard in the post-Civil War era. See "The Wizard of Oz as a Monetary Allegory." The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 98, No. 4 (1990), pp. 739-760.

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Author:Foster, Mike
Publication:Mythlore
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2017
Words:409
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