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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Free Live Free
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 23:32:07 

Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net> wrote:
>Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu> wrote:
>>On Wed, 26 Jan 2000, Jim Jordan wrote:
>>> 	The four  main characters are from the Wizard. Ben Free is the Wizard.
>>> Glinda (note spelling) is also the name of one of the good witches. It's
>>> been years since I read it, but I do recall that the father and son (Barnes
>>> and Kip?) are Dorothy and Toto. The others can be seen as needing courage,
>>> brains, and heart.
>>From all the mentions of the movie, Wolfe obviously had it in mind.  I can
>>see Free as the wizard, but I can't make the other characters fit.  None
>>of the charcters seem particularly lacking in courage, brains, or heart.
>>Their faults seem more moral: Stubb is vain, worried about his height,
>>proud, always trying to prove himself.  Candy lacks self-control regarding
>>food (she acts bravely, cleverly, and has a heart (of gold?)).  You might
>>say the witch needs more heart, but it seems her real turning point is
>>where she realizes that her pursuit of power has been misguided.
>	I recall being struck by and convinced of this paradigm when I read the
>book, but I just can't recall enough at the moment to argue the point. If
>my aging longterm memory is serving me, I think I was thinking that each
>character has a kind of perverted form of the virtue that is "lacking."
>I.e., that Stubbs (maybe) has a courage of the wrong sort; Candy has a
>heart of the wrong sort; the witch has a mind of the wrong sort. They are
>each out of balance in a certain direction. (Recall how Wolfe uses the
>mind, emotion, will paradigm in "The God and His Man.")  They don't
>perceive that they lack the better form of these virtues -- that's for the
>reader to perceive -- thus providing a more sophisticated variant on the Oz
>scenario. That's off the top of my head and based on memories that have
>mostly flown away. Maybe it'll be of help to those currently reading the book.

I have fairly recently (re)read the first 14 Oz books (as all regular
long-term readers of this list know only too well) and I have read FLF at
least three times although not very recently (partly because I just plain
enjoy it and partly to try to pin down the time travel stuff). I have read
several times in this list and elsewhere that FLF is a "retelling" of the
story of the Wizard of Oz but I have always felt that this was wrong
(unless you are going to define retelling in such a vague way as to allow
FLF to be a retelling of virtually every other book you care to name as
well -- Free is Captain Ahab, Free is the Mad Hatter, etc.).

I am still far from convinced that there is much merit to this theory, but
Jim Jordan's explanation of the version of the FLF=WOZ theory that he is
familiar with (I don't know if this is THE theory or if there are different
versions) is the first time I don't feel I can dismiss it out of hand.
Since I am the self-proclaimed Oz expert on this list (although there are
others on this list at least as knowledgeable as I--you know who you are,
alga), I'll have to try to re-read FLF with this in mind.

You know, if Jim Jordan is right, then Ozzie Barnes somehow embodies both
Dorothy Gale and Popeye the Sailor simultaneously. It does seem like
something Wolfe might do, doesn't it?

William Ansley

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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