A Different Oz

To our shock, we discovered that there are 22 books in the Wizard of Oz series. In the USSR, we only had two. They were exactly the same but Dorothy was called Ellie and the slippers were a different color. Oh, and the wicked witch of the East was called Gingham. The most ridiculous part is that the books were published under a Soviet writer’s name and L. Frank Baum wasn’t credited anywhere in them. That’s probably the most blatant case of Soviet plagiarism I’ve ever seen.

The 22 books translate into 90 hours of listening pleasure, so my daughter is MIA, lost in the imaginary world of Ozma (who even knew there was an Ozma in Oz?) and Glinda.

12 thoughts on “A Different Oz

    1. I was always sure that the Soviet author created his own story using the motifs of the original. Like a literary retelling of sorts. When I read the original, I was stunned to find out that it’s identical to the Soviet version. It’s blatant plagiarism.

      This was more common with music. I was shocked to find out how many of the famous Soviet tunes came from US movies.

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  1. // I have fond memories of those books – I had the plagiarized original and all the 5 sequels.

    Yes, there were more than 2 novels in Russian.

    My favorites were ‘Urfin Jus and His Wooden Soldiers’ and «О́гненный бог Марра́нов». According to wiki, those two are original works, not retellings / translations from English. I guessed as much since those two books had more criticism of society and human nature than I would expect from American children literature. It is not communist propaganda style of criticism, but just clear-eyed look at darker sides of human nature. Quite mature books.

    Wiki says:

    “In Russia, a translation by Alexander Melentyevich Volkov produced six books, The Wizard of the Emerald City series, which became progressively distanced from the Baum version, as Ellie and her dog Totoshka travel throughout the Magic Land.”

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    1. I vaguely recall something about ‘Urfin Jus and His Wooden Soldiers’ – I think it was the very first sequel. Other than the obvious wooden soldiers, I remember that Urfin taught himself to stop munching.

      I liked the book about the 7 kings with their courts living underground, each of them sleeping for 6 years and waking up for 1 to rule. Have you read that one?

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      1. // I liked the book about the 7 kings with their courts living underground, each of them sleeping for 6 years and waking up for 1 to rule. Have you read that one?

        I think I did, but it was long ago, so don’t remember any details.

        Clarissa, regarding ‘God of Fire’ part, one of the themes of the novel is how gratitude for real past help in hour of dire need can be exploited by the former helper to use the other party for his own selfish ends which seriously harm others. A corrupt man saves a great eagle (think of LoTR huge eagles) from death after grevious injury and then proceeds to manipulate the noble bird, persuading it for a while that enslaving a race of savage people in the mountains is for their own good.

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        1. A better exploration of this theme is a sci-fi novel Трудно быть богом by Стругацкие. It’s all about how far you can go to improve the lives of people you see as being inferior to you. It’s a manifesto of wokeness that I detested even back in the 1980s when I read it.

          The topic of “the right side of history” clearly preoccupied Soviet writers a lot.

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  2. Once Baum wrote THE WIZARD OF OZ he apparently got “carried away” and wrote numerous follow-up novels on the theme.
    My parents had original hard-bind copies of a few of them when I was growing up, but I don’t know whatever happened to them.
    For whatever reason only the original first story still continues to be the only one that gets recognition anymore.

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    1. I dunno. I recall “Return to Oz” (loosely based on books 2 and 3 of oz) was made into one of the scariest kid movies of all time. Or at any rate it scared the socks off of me when I was…. 6? Probably initiated a lot of edgy little kids into what later became the 90s punk/goth scene.

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