Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 15:06:43 -0500 From: "J. L. Bell" <jnolbell at earthlink.net> Subject: Re: [Regalia] Imar's airplane and other inventions Ruth Berman wrote: <<Thinking about Imar's bird-winged airplane — I suppose airplanes were much in the news when Baum was working on "John Dough" (a website I looked at says the Wright brothers' 1st 3 airplanes were 1903, 1904, 1905, although the first one that made a convincing flight demonstration was the year after "John Dough," 1907).>> The Wrights were so protective of their ideas that they didn't go public for years after that famous first flight. Thus, no one—particularly no one outside the field—could be certain that fixed-wing aircraft were the only way to fly in 1905-06, when Baum wrote JOHN DOUGH. Certainly other inventors were trying to create a working airplane then. But I don't know how much press they were getting, and thus whether Baum would have seen it. Baum seems to depict the inventions on Phreex as scientific, not magical—just a very advanced science. So I suspect he did think that an aircraft built just like a bird made scientific sense. Baum calls Imar the only successful inventor on Phreex, but other men have also succeeded at doing what they set out to do: repel gravity, make diamonds. Those other men are "failures" only because their inventions don't work perfectly or bring bad unintended consequences. Imar's flying machine runs out of power just like Sir Pryse Bok's umbrella-replacement, but no one says that machine failed. Perhaps the others dislike Imar because he's obviously juvenile-lead material, and they aren't. J. L. Bell JnoLBell at earthlink.net Musings about some of my favorite fantasy literature for young readers. http://ozandends.blogspot.com
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2008 22:00:09 -0500 From: "J. L. Bell" <jnolbell at earthlink.net> Subject: Re: [Regalia] gingerbread Nathan DeHoff wrote: > Since John has to drink the magic liquid given to him by the King of > the Fairy Beavers to make his repairs at the end of the book > permanent, it doesn't seem like his parts are quite as easily replaced > as Jack's or the Sawhorse's. This could imply that he won't last as > long as the Ozites of fragile construction. Jack and the Sawhorse are wood, and other artificial people in Oz are made of tin and cloth. Those substances are all more durable to begin with than gingerbread. Jack might fall apart in an accident, but he won't disintegrate like John. The Scarecrow gets soggy in the rain and the tin men rust, but they don't crumble to bits as John would. It seems like the Fairy Beaver King's potion causes John's pieces to stick together, or the new bits to stick to the old bits and become imbued with the Elixir of Life. Again, that's different from how new pieces are added to the cloth, metal, and wood creatures, and the difference seems inherent in the soft, spongy nature of gingerbread. Perhaps a sticky frosting glue could have produced the same result. But it wouldn't look as good—and John wouldn't like that. > Another thing to note about Chick is that his/her speech patterns seem > more slangy than those of a lot of Baum's other characters. Yes, John remarks on Chick's modern mode of speaking. It's another way that Baum drew a contrast between his two heroes: ancient wisdom versus contemporary common sense. On the one hand, the slang underscores how Chick is the most modern of children, raised by the latest technology. But there's also the hint, made explicit by the kinglet, that being reared by an incubator has left Chick a bit rude. J. L. Bell JnoLBell at earthlink.net Musings about some of my favorite fantasy literature for young readers. http://ozandends.blogspot.com
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