Sexual Fables
This article accompanies the fable
Oz is China

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz banned from the nation’s libraries?

L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz used to be one of the Great American Novels, right up there with Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick.  Not among the literati, of course, but among nearly everybody else.  Indeed it was clear-eyed librarians in the Thirties, Fifties and Sixties who recognized the novel for what it was, a dangerous and subversive satire on American imperialism – and they had the Oz books banned from the libraries of America in the 1930s, and then again from 1957 until the mid-1960s.  They were, in the immortal words of one expert, “poorly written, untrue to life, sensational, foolishly sentimental and consequently unwholesome…”  It seems equally likely that the decapitation of wildcats and the portrayal of witches made the librarians uncomfortable, just as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series makes some people uncomfortable today.  The librarians have come around in their thinking, even if the literati haven’t.  One notable exception was Ray Bradbury who always loved the Oz books and celebrated them on several occasions.  His short story “The Exiles” and his subsequent novel about book-burning, Fahrenheit 451, were partially inspired by the fate of Baum’s Oz books.


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