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From: William Ansley <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Free Live Free
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2001 01:11:49 

At 11:12 AM -0500 4/18/01, James Jordan wrote:
>	Second, the characters: I suspect that many of the minor 
>characters come from later Oz books, since Wolfe is familiar with 
>them. I'm not interested in reading these to see if this might be 
>the case, however.

I have seen this idea that there are strong parallels to _The 
Wonderful Wizard of Oz_ (aka _The Wizard of Oz_ in later printings) 
in _Free Live Free_ batted around in this list over and over, but 
have never found it very convincing. (Didn't this idea originate in a 
review by John Clute?)

But you make a better case than I've seen before. However, I still 
think that the Oz associations are much looser than you do; I really 
don't think Wolfe took any of the minor characters from later Oz 
books. I think I am qualified to make this statement. I have re-read 
all 14 of Baum's original books fairly recently when I wrote my long 
series of essays (well, really, rough drafts of essays) about the Oz 
references in Wolfe's novella, "The Eyeflash Miacles." This is 
presumably how you know that he is familiar with the books.

And don't forget the movie! It is different from the book in many 
ways, but it is explicitly referred to in FLF and the Oz books 
aren't. Wolfe's Oz references in TEM are almost all from the books, 
or could be, but there is one reference that can only come from the 
movie. The character/hallucination Little Tib perceives as Dorothy 
towards the end of TEM wears ruby slippers; in the book they were 
silver shoes.

TEM seems to have another link with FLF, it, along with _Peace_ and 
some of Wolfe's other short stories including _The Hero as Werewolf_ 
and _Forlesen_ have characters who mourn a "lost American past" and 
feel that they or their ancestors were somehow banished from their 
rightful place in the American present.

But you make a good case and if I have time I will re-read FLF and 
keep a very sharp eye out for Oz stuff, especially from the later 

On a more or less unrelated note, you say:

>	Thus, in a very broad sense, Ben Free is partly a kind of 
>Christ figure, providing an opportunity to have a "new birth."

I think Wolfe makes an extended joke about this in FLF, as I wrote 
quite a while ago (May 6, 1998). I have made a few minor edits, but I 
am quoting in full because nobody commented on this message when I 
originally posted it, so possibly no one remembers it:

>I re-read FLF a while ago and noticed something that hasn't been discussed
>in this group. Since all (most?) of Wolfe's major works have a Christ
>figure in them, one would expect FLF to have one, too. Ben Free seems to be
>the closest thing to one. He does offer the four protagonists a "new life"
>at the end of the book, just before the epilogue, and just before this he
>says that he arranged that they all get their greatest desires "because
>I've learned that we all have to get them before we can have better ones."
>But, in FLF, it is (more or less) directly implied that Ben Free is the Son
>of God. Dr Makee "is" God. This comes from Ch. 11, P. 69 of the Tor pb. ed.:
>"Do I look like God?" the old doctor said. "I don't know." As a matter of
>fact he did look like God. He was a small, elderly man who sported a little
>white beard and an even whiter mustache; the collar of a tattersall
>shirt--an almost infallible sign of the presense of deity--peeped above the
>collar of his overcoat.
>and Ben Free is his son, from ch. 31, p. 206:
>The old doctor began to pump the blood pressure cuff. "He was my son, you
>know." Barnes stared at him, and he chuckled again. "Not my actual
>son--Tommy died a long while ago, and I think Ben was really a few years
>older than I am. But we used to pretend that way and we had a lot of fun.
>and finally this from ch. 36, p. 241-242:
>Barnes shook his head.
>   "She said, 'God, you gotta take care of Baby Phil because he won't never
>take care of himself.' I wasn't there, but Bubba was, and he told me. God
>has to get me out, and you're his chosen instrument."
>   "Instrument, hell. I never even met Him!"
>   Dr. Makee chuckled and nudged Barnes with an elbow. "Don't be too sure."
>Now all of this is done in a playful, not to mention peculiar, way and
>probably isn't meant to be taken seriously.
>But then FLF is a playful, not to mention peculiar, novel. Moreover, I am
>not at all sure it isn't meant to be taken seriously.

William Ansley

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

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