The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082215
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 09/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series , #1
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 29,673
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Date of Birth:

May 15, 1856

Date of Death:

May 6, 1919

Place of Birth:

Chittenango, New York

Place of Death:

Hollywood, California

Education:

Attended Peekskill Military Academy and Syracuse Classical School

Read an Excerpt

From J. T. Barbarese’s Introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

For readers who come to the novel after having grown up with the movie, the biggest shock is to find in the novel none of the film’s comforting, gap-filling backstory. Some of the cinematic revisions, such as the snowstorm that wakes the sleepers in the poppy field and that replaces their rescue by the Queen of the Mice in chapter IX, were cost-efficient alternatives to special effects that might have proven impossible or inadequate to the illusion.5 The change from Silver Shoes to Ruby Slippers in the 1939 movie, as most people know, was dictated by technical considerations (red showed up more vividly on the film stock of the period than silver); and American culture would be poorer without some of its memorable dialogue. But the principal changes are in the overall characterization and in retrospect seem less defensible. In the book Uncle Henry and Auntie Em never really emerge from the background and appear together only in chapter I, Auntie Em appearing alone in the very brief closing chapter. The film, however, shows them as loveable (if two-toned) representatives of a loveable Kansas home. Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch turns out to be one more ripple in Dorothy’s concussed subconscious and the Kansas prototype of the Wicked Witch of the West, who even has a name—Almira Gulch. Auntie Em is hardly the “thin and gaunt,” childless old woman whose eyes had lost their sparkle and were as gray as Kansas. She is an all-American original with a tongue and a personality to match. “Almira Gulch,” she says on hearing of Almira’s plan to destroy Toto, “just because you own half the county doesn't mean you have the power to run the rest of us!” Perhaps the biggest change is in Dorothy herself, who is actually a feistier child in the novel than on film. Consider the witch’s death. The film stages the event as an accident—Dorothy aims a bucket of water at the burning Scarecrow and douses the witch instead. But the novel makes it no accident. The witch tricks Dorothy and obtains one of her Silver Shoes. Dorothy gets “so very angry that she picked up the bucket of water that stood near and dashed it over the Witch.” Judy Garland’s Dorothy is tearfully apologetic; Baum’s is outspoken and “angry.”6

The screenwriters (Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf) also expanded the roles of the three companions and turned the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Lion into metamorphosed versions of farmhands named Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke. Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan), the genial fraud who watches Dorothy head off as the tornado prepares to descend, reenters her dream vision as the Wizard (as well as, once in the City of Oz, the doorman of the Emerald City, a cabdriver, and the Wizard’s guard). These were more than touches of simple psychological realism. Like the technical stroke to shift to color from black and white when Dorothy arrives in Munchkin Land and the suddenly indispensable musical score, these permanent contributions to the Oz mythology are also improvisations that may not necessarily constitute improvements.7 They blur the clarity of the original, superimposing a second relational network on a clearer original. Dorothy and her companions each lack something and venture to the Emerald City to request it of the Wizard to find it, but in the novel neither the companions nor their deficiencies have reciprocal counterparts in the “real” world of Kansas. Oz is no Purgatory or compensatory educational experience, and it is definitely no metaphor for unconsciousness. Yet the film persuades the audience of a nearly allegorical symmetry between Kansas and Oz and raises unique questions. Is this Dorothy’s way of disclosing in dream truths too dangerous or painful to bear while awake? Are the three companions, like the three beasts who temporarily block Dante’s entrance to Hell, reflections of flaws in her personality? We don’t really know. The movie supplies teasing closures to questions that only it raises. The screenwriters’ brilliant adaptation—whether you find it welcome or not—turns each character into a symbolic referent, a point on a carefully plotted postcyclonic rainbow that begins and ends in Kansas. As a result, the film displaces emphasis from fantasy to psychology and makes several “unforgivable” changes.8 Whatever its justification in commercial or technical terms, the film forces its audience to measure the distance between Kansas and Oz in psychic, not imaginative, terms; it tidies up certain loose ends, such as the origins of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow, each of whose histories is explained in the book, by eliminating the need for explanations. Everything that occurs in the end occurs in Dorothy’s mind.

This is an essential point: Baum’s Oz, like the Elysian Fields in Greek mythology or the witch’s house in “Hansel and Gretel,” is a place you can get to from here. There is no complicated prospectus, more fit for adults than children, of dream projections of waking originals. The text has a serene confidence in its own imaginative conditions that, along with its disquietingly simple style, are its lasting strengths. For those raised on the movie, what is “missing” is surface complexity, density of characterization, and witty dialogue. Baum’s prose is clear and childlike and represents an uncompromising attention to plot rather than style, to events over character. It’s almost as if children’s literature had found in Baum its own Homer, a writer whose straightforward and occasionally pedestrian style is the determined outcome of the oddness of the story he has to tell. You may miss the character overlays of the film and its calculated verbal ironies, derivative of the more sophisticated children’s books. You may long for the closure you feel when you see Ray Bolger behind the Scarecrow’s outlines or hear the Wizard in Professor Marvel’s voice.9 On the other hand, the novel dispensed with Wonderland-ish exits such as Dorothy’s coming to at the end or the final tableau where the ensemble, including Professor Marvel, gathers around her bed like a Broadway cast taking a second bow. While the last person to consult in matters of intention is the author, it’s noteworthy that Baum’s stated purpose was to “please children of today” with “a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.” Simplicity, in other words, was his goal, not stylistic flash or psychological nuance.

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 390 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, I was completely pleasantly surprised. I have seen the movie more times than I can count and have performed the play more than once so I am extremely familiar with the story. I was very sure there was no way the story of the Wizard of Oz could re-spark my interest but I was wrong. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum's writing is very simple making it accessible to all age groups. After realizing this, I understood how the book became such a classic. The simplistic writing didn't take away from the story at all, though. I found that the plot of Dorothy traveling through Oz, trying to return to Kansas, was far more intricate than in the film adaptation. The story was much more fantasy based, as well. The whimsical details created a story so magical I couldn't help but be pulled in. The story also spoke to a message about personal potential, a theme I had not connected to before while watching the movie. Throughout the novel, there are many instances of the scarecrow, lion, and tin man acting contradictorily to what their supposed problem is. For example, the lion acts against his fear and protects the rest of the characters while in the woods. This courageous act proves that the lion and all of the characters do not need the help of Oz and was capable all along. This is reinforced when Oz gives them gifts that have no real effect at the end of the book. This lesson of personal potential is a great one for kids to learn and in general, is an uplifting message for all. All in all, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a classic for a reason; it tells a wonderful, captivating story that speaks to all ages and people.
Micah Yunker More than 1 year ago
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a classic tale. A very well written piece. This book lies the true deatails of Dorathy's adventures in these odd countries that the movie does not. A MUST READ!!!!!
JoAnn Glisan More than 1 year ago
this book was way better than the movie!
Wompus More than 1 year ago
Although I watched the movie as a child I didn't realize how different the book was! Now, as a 30 year old, I enjoyed the book so much that I now want to go re-watch the movie again! Even though the story differs the twists and turns and different storyline kept me going for two days. I even snuck my nook into work and read because I was so deeply into the story! Maybe it was reading a childhood favorite or maybe it was just to see what would be so different, I don't know, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. And come on, $1.99 ebook? It's a great price. My only gripe is that some words were missing the first letter, but overall it didn't bother me that much. Read it, you'll enjoy it all over again!
DeDeFlowers More than 1 year ago
The Wizard of Oz is a book I call a 'lifetime' book. I call it this because no matter what age you are you can take something from it. It is a great book for children of any age. We all know the story of this book based on the movie, but the book if quite a bit different. I like it more because it is more fantasy based. A lot of people have said the book is violent, but it's really not. Nothing is graphic or more violent than anything in the movie. The Wizard of Oz doesn't need a long review. It has such a legacy for a reason! Pick this up and read it, whatever age you are. Also, it is a very fast read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Wizard of a oz is 1 of my favorite classic books. It was way better than the movie ( no afence to Judy Garland). This was a great book. Even though its long i read it in about a week. Must read this book. NOT A WAIST OF MONEY. BUY IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
mab67 More than 1 year ago
I grew up with hollywood's version on the TV and I love it to this day. SO I wanted to read the book. Usually I feel the book is much better then the movie, but not in this case. Dorothy's journey is alot longer and alot more different people she meets becomes lengthy and the reader becomes disallusioned with the plot. The name on the cover is where the book and hollywood separate. But I am glad I read it after I read about the author and why he wrote the story.
SandSing7 on LibraryThing 23 days ago
So, so, so very different from the movie! And so much better! I feel an affection for the story now that I never had before, and I feel much better now about my dislike of the movie considering how much the original story was butchered!
MadameSynchro on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Until I bought this book I had no idea it was part of a series. I was lucky enough to visit a friend's house and her grandmother had passed down to her all of the series in the world of Oz. I thought some of the books after the Wonderful Wizard were far more entertaining. However, this is a classic and should thus be respected. Fellow bibliophiles who read the book will be sure to note the vast differences from this and the movie.
quaintlittlehead on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Warning: this review may spoil the ending of the book for you. Then again, you've probably already seen the movie, haven't you?"The (Wonderful) Wizard of Oz" is in fact a great deal unlike the 1939 film. There are far more characters in Oz, and far less time is spent on the farm in Kansas. I was not surprised to read in the Puffin edition's supplementary material at the end of the book that it was originally banned because its simplistic writing style did not make it seem like quality children's literature. Cornelia Funke states in her introduction to this edition that readers are luckier if they get to make the journey through the book as a child, and I would concur. As an adult, I found it a hard slog to get interested in the book until halfway through, when the characters depart from the Emerald City to complete their task. The chapters are short, the wording is not very descriptive beyond reference to lots of different colours and the way clothing looks, and the action in much of the book seems not to have much storytelling purpose other than to delay the ending a little bit longer. The book reads like a convoluted series of Grimms' fairy tales where the moral is delayed almost entirely to the end, in spite of a few hints throughout here and there. Reference to this moral is not subtle, either. Baum apparently loved to tell children stories, and his novel reads much like a story that he was spinning off stream-of-consciousness, with back-stories thrown in for additional characters here and there just to keep the audience entertained for a wee bit longer. Overall, I felt that the story lacked the sophisticated emotional arcs of tales like "Charlotte's Web" or the linguistic skill of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." I have to admit, though, that I was won over by the ending, for in the movie, it never satisfied me that Dorothy had the power to go home all along, but "had to find out for herself." In the book, it is more clear that if Dorothy had never come to Oz, the Scarecrow would never have got his brains, the Tin Man would never have got his heart, and the Cowardly Lion would never have got his courage, and thus her trials served a purpose. That's a moral that I can get behind; I just wish it had been as wonderful to get to the end of the literary yellow brick road as it was to reach the end of the celluloid one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dorthty and Scarecrow are my fave character**#Coolcat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
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weary
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Great!!!!
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