19 March 2009

“Slender green towers, great domed buildings”

This post is a follow-up to my last, about the untenable but popular thesis that L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a parable on the American Populist movement of the 1890s.

First, though that posting mentioned how The Emerald City of Oz described Oz's economic system, I neglected to link to my quotation of that passage two years ago.

Second, Ms. Bird at Fuse #8 turned out to be one of those high-school students who were told about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz's secret message--and no doubt she understands hard-money policy so much better now.

The comments to her comments included this from Gwenda Bond:

One of my favorite John Kessel stories is "The Baum Plan for Financial Independence," which plays with that side of Oz theory. I think it's still online free linked from the Small Beer site for the collection of the same name.
And indeed on tax day last year that press released a free download of John Kessel's collection of the same name. There's an audio version of the story with the text to read along to. And of course folks can buy printed copies of Kessel's book as well.

I'm not sure I see the Populism/silver standard side of the parable in "The Baum Plan...," but perhaps it refers to Ozma's economic system instead. There are clearly Ozzy moments:
The window looked down from a great height on a city unlike any I had ever seen. It was like a picture out of a kid’s book, something Persian about it, and something Japanese. Slender green towers, great domed buildings, long, low structures like warehouses made of jade. The sun beat down pitilessly on citizens who went from street to street between the fine buildings with bowed heads and plodding steps. I saw a team of four men in purple shirts pulling a cart; I saw other men with sticks herd children down to a park; I saw vehicles rumble past tired street workers, kicking up clouds of yellow dust so thick that I could taste it.
The narrator is too noir to be comfortable in such a colorful city.

No comments: