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The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism by Henry M. Littlefield - On the deserts of North Africa in 1941 two tough Australian brigades went into battle singing:
Have you heard of the wonderful wizard,
The wonderful Wizard of Oz,
And he is a wonderful wizard,
If ever a wizard there was.
It was a song they had brought with them from Australia and would soon spread to England. Forever afterward it reminded Winston Churchill of those "buoyant days." Churchill's nostalgia is only one symptom of the world-wide delight found in an American fairy tale about a little girl and her odyssey in the strange land of Oz. The song he reflects upon came from a classic 1939 Hollywood production of the story, which introduced millions of people not only to the land of Oz, but to a talented young lady named Judy Garland as well.
Ever since its publication in 1900 Lyman Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been immensely popular, providing the basis for a profitable musical comedy, three movies, and a number of plays. It is an indigenous creation, curiously warm and touching, although no one really knows why. For despite wholehearted acceptance by generations of readers, Baum's tale has been accorded neither critical acclaim, nor extended critical examination. Interested scholars, such as Russel B. Nye and Martin Gardiner, look upon The Wizard of Oz as the first in a long and delightful series of Oz stories, and understandably base their appreciation of Baum's talent on the totality of his works.
The Wizard of Oz is an entity unto itself, however, and was not originally written with a sequel in mind. Baum informed his readers in 1904 that he has produced The Marvelous Land of Oz reluctantly and only in answer to well over a thousand letters demanding that he creation another Oz tale. His original effort remains unique and to some degree separate from the books which follow. But its uniqueness does not rest alone on its peculiar and transcendent popularity. (Henry M. Littlefield)