FIND in
<--prev V205 next-->
Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 13:30:09 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: Re: (urth) FLF

--- Robert Borski  wrote:
> A few random notes from my weekend reread of _Free Live Free_ that may
> still
> be pertinent, the vast majority of what I would have said having already
> been duly noted, primarily by Mssrs. Nutria and Ansley back in V.30.
> First the characters, Nutria casting them thusly:
> "Now, in WWOz the three Oz characters are animal, vegetable, and
> mineral. I
> don't know how Wolfe might be playing with this. But they are also mind,
> emotion, and will. Stubb - very smart; mind (Scarecrow; vegetable?)
> Candy -
> very loving; emotion (Tin Woodman; mineral?) Serpentina - very
> determined;
> will (Lion; animal?) Which leaves Barnes as Dorothy, and Little Ozzie as
> Toto.

Well, I like Little Ozzie as Toto.

> And of course Ben Free as the Wizard. Free is not a humbug, but I
> think he is trapped in 'Oz', and only escapes through death. Free does
> move
> upwards (compare the wizard's balloon)."
> I'd like to propose a somewhat different mapping. (My apologies if this
> has
> been suggested before, but I couldn't find it anywhere in the archives.)
> Candy Garth is the very obvious Dorothy; she sings like the Dorothy of
> cinematic Oz and Garth seems like one of those nested names Wolfe uses
> so
> frequently (GAil, doRoTHy). Osgood Barnes, a.k.a. "Ozzy," is the wizard
> manqué, the seller of cheap tricks and novelties. Madam Serpentina is
> the
> witch. (Duh.)

Which witch?  Both (or all three)?

> And little Stubbs, who's described as jockey size, is a
> munchkin. This leaves only Ben Free, the true wizard--and someone whose
> "magic" may also include changing water into wine and raising the dead
> (see William Ansley's post).

This makes as much sense to me as anything, but to me the resemblance
to _The Wizard of Oz_ is mostly that it's four characters having
adventures on a quest and ending up conferring with someone who can
tell them some answers and grant wishes.  As Nutria implied, I doubt
there are good correspondences between characters in the two works.
> One, of course, may also impose, as the author himself does, a Popeye
> schema. Osgood = Popeye; M. Snake = Olive; Little Ozzy = Sweepea; Stubbs
> =
> Wimpy; and Candy = Brutus???
> In addition, several of the characters have M's associated with their
> names.
> Madam Serpentina a.k.a. Marie; Osgood M. Barnes; Catharine M. Garth. But
> what does the M stand for? An upside down W? A very oblique tip of the
> hat
> to L. Frank Baum? (M being the next letter after L and this being
> Wolfe's
> topsy-turvy version of  "The Wizard of Oz." Someone, somewhere, does say
> something about being in the wrong movie.)

Now that M is an interesting one.

> Then there's the "house" of Ben Free--Garth also meaning yard, Stubb
> (from
> the German Stube, as Wolfe tells us) meaning room, and Barnes being
> where
> you put the cows and horses.

I hadn't noticed that!  Then Madame S. would be the wild snake that
slithers in now and then, or the ancient Greek "house snake" (which
I know about from a highly reliable historical source: _The King
Must Die_.)

> Shared optical difficulties also prevent quite a few of the characters
> from
> seeing properly. Osgood has a glass eye, Madam Serpentina wears
> contacts,
> Stubbs has bottle-bottom glasses, and Free is described as poor sighted
> but
> yet is able to detect someone's irises contracting in basement murk.
> Perhaps
> the latter plays off the notion as God-as-clear-sighted and the rest of
> us as His myopic underlings stumbling around in the dark.

A good one, but how does Candy fit in?  She sees clearly, but can't
control the appetites of the flesh?

> Considering that FLF was written by Wolfe while on break from _Urth of
> the
> New Sun_, might we describe the High Country shadow government of Ben
> Free
> as a bunch of "High-rodules"?
> And lastly, considering that the overall tone of the book is that of a
> light
> Frank Capra movie, does anyone find it strange that this is the only
> Wolfe
> work to contains the words f*ck, sh*t, motherf*cker and bullsh*t?

Heh heh.  I guess people don't swear in the future, the past, or
alternate timelines.

Jerry Friedman

Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup


<--prev V205 next-->