The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Study Guide

L. Frank Baum

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Author's Note | Summary



In a brief introduction dated to "Chicago, April, 1900," L. Frank Baum describes the fun children derive from "folklore, legends, myths, and fairy tales." Yet he states, "The time has come for a series of newer 'wonder tales' in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated." He deplores the "blood-curdling incidents" that must be included in traditional fairy tales to provide them with morals.


Baum shows in this introduction he is not particularly fond of traditional fairy tales. He believes them to be stale, frightening, and moralistic. With The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, he says he hopes to create an entirely new kind of fairy tale, one meant specifically for American children. Baum had an aversion to the sometimes disturbing fairy tales he read as a child. As a result most of his characters (based on Denslow's original illustration) are pint-sized, witches can be good as well as evil, and other villains—such as wolves, crows, and bees—are familiar to American farm children. He once famously declared his stories would never cause nightmares.

Yet despite his protests Baum's story does contain many typical fairy-tale features, not only orphans and witches but little people (Munchkins), wise fools (like the Scarecrow), and an arduous journey. Right from the start Baum's declaration puts readers on the alert for points of intersection with and departure from traditional fairy tales.

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