Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Inspiring Power of Oz

Of all the fantasy series ever written, it is hard to imagine one that has proved so influential as the Oz books.

First off, the Oz books have something few other books have. C. Warren Hollister described it as a "3-dimensionality." Despite the more modern criticisms of little character development, the characters seem to come to life right off the page because they are so well defined. When Baum finally adopts the title of "Royal Historian of Oz," you don't think twice, you know he deserves it. Many Oz fans cannot bring themselves to truly think Oz does not exist, and the few who do wish it did.

Another exciting element in the Oz books is how the world of Oz develops. In the Oz books, Oz is part of a fantasy world that is explored more and more throughout the series unfolding with new lands, characters, and adventures. When fans of the books discover the existence of Baum's other fantasies that take place in the world of Oz, they often seek them out to see other parts of this world unfold.

Unlike today's fantasies (Harry Potter, I'm looking at you) back stories are not set up in earlier Oz books, instead you're told what you need to know in each book. This isn't something that is done now, as book series are often designed to be developed into multimedia franchises. But back in the early part of the 20th century, it was too pretentious for an author or publisher to expect every reader to have read every book in a series and then keep track of these bits of continuity. The Oz books were designed as standalone stories that were also a series.

To be sure, there are continuity errors in the Oz books, but fans don't mind. It makes them think, and in some cases, it feels like historical documents that contradict each other in small ways.

It is, in fact, the engaging nature of the Oz books which is why they have been adapted so many times and why so many additional Oz books have been written by fans. When one reads the Oz books, they can picture the story in their imagination, and sometimes these depictions are so vivid, the reader cannot help but bring them out in their own way.

Characters, places, and other items stick out from the history of the world of Oz and creative readers will often pick up on these and develop new stories based on them, unfolding the world of Oz even further. Some who read the Oz books notice these and are inspired to redevelop them in ways completely independent of established history with mixed results.

That is why the Oz books are one of the most endearing and longest-lasting series of books ever. The world of Oz and its people appeal to our imaginations so much that they are welcomed eagerly in their many forms.

1 comment:

Mark R Hunter said...

Well, of course Oz really exists. Duh. Otherwise, I'd have to deal with .... otherwise.