25 August 2009

Oz and “Bad Karma”?

As long as I’m noting New York Times reviews of books about L. Frank Baum, Tara McKelvey wasn’t impressed with Evan I. Schwartz’s Finding Oz in the Book Review earlier this month:

Schwartz, formerly an editor at BusinessWeek, tells Baum’s story in a peculiar fashion, claiming (with scant evidence) that Baum felt guilty about his genocidal editorials. The analysis seems more YogaLifethan literary: Baum needed to “make up for the bad karma” he had created with his editorials, which led him to write about Oz; and the quests of the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy “are reflections of the Four Yogas of Swami Vivekananda.”
I suspect it’s the “scant evidence” that matters to McKelvey’s judgment rather than this particular claim. I’ve already noted how Finding Oz finds too much significance in some details of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. When one tosses the infinite muddle of mystic philosophy on top of that, one can find hints of anything.

For Schwartz speaking on behalf of his book--without a single mention of Theosophy as a major theme--try the podcast of his appearance on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show.

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