"We're going to the Emerald City by a difficult road..."
November 25, 2005 12:17 PM   Subscribe

We all know the story: little Elli, a girl living in the steppes of Kanzas with her dog Totoshka, is blown by a hurricane (stirred up by the wicked witch Gingema) all the way to Magic Land, where she meets the Cowardly Lion, the Iron Woodman, and the scarecrow Strashila and has to make her way to the Emerald City to find the magician Gudvin so she can get back home... What, you don't remember it that way? Didn't you read The Wizard of the Emerald City and its much-loved sequels Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers, The Seven Underground Kings, The Fiery God of the Marrans, The Yellow Fog, and The Mystery of the Deserted Castle? Ah, you're not Russian! Listen [RealAudio] to a five-minute description (on Studio 360) of Alexander Volkov's Russified versions of Baum (with illustrations by Leonid Vladimirsky) and how they captivated children and adults in the Soviet Union (you even get a bit of the famous song Мы в город Изумрудный/ Идем дорогой трудной ["We're going to the Emerald City by a difficult road..."]); visit the Emerald City website (Russian version, where all the links work); and see the wonderful illustrations at this site, which links to the texts of all six novels (click on Читать...)—in Russian, but the images need no explanation. (Fun fact: the word "Oz" doesn't occur anywhere in the Russian versions.) And if you're interested in other alternate versions, go to Oz Outside the Famous Forty. (Via P. Kerim Friedman.)
posted by languagehat (21 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Super cool post. I wish I could read russian to read these. I can't figure out from that 'famous forty' site, is this one of those 'turkish star wars' deals where copyright just didn't come into the picture? Or was this an actual adaptation?
posted by lumpenprole at 12:49 PM on November 25, 2005

Well this is interesting! _Love_ the artwork. I've forwarded your entire post to a friend of mine taking her doctorate in Russian studies, so I'm sure she'll have a little freakout* over your excellent post, languagehat. Thanks!

* good freakout, not bad
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:52 PM on November 25, 2005

is this one of those 'turkish star wars' deals where copyright just didn't come into the picture?this:
In 1939, a new book by Aleksandr Volkov was published in Moscow, Volshebnik Izumrudnovo Goroda—The Wizard of the City of Emeralds. While purporting to be an original tale, the story of Elli and her dog Totoshka, Strasheela the Scarecrow, the Iron Woodchopper, and the Cowardly Lion was easily recognizable as The Wizard of Oz... In 1959, a revised edition, illustrated by L. Vladimirski, appeared. (Both editions acknowledge Baum and The Wizard of Oz as inspiring the story, but the 1959 edition gave Baum more credit and emphasis.)
In any case, the original Baum books (the first came out in 1900) have long been out of copyright everywhere.
posted by languagehat at 1:20 PM on November 25, 2005

How did that happen? That should read:

is this one of those 'turkish star wars' deals where copyright just didn't come into the picture?

According to this:
posted by languagehat at 1:22 PM on November 25, 2005

Excellent post. My favorite part was just clicking on links that I had no idea about. I think I started a bank panic in the Urals, but that's nothing new.
posted by OmieWise at 1:43 PM on November 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

Great post! The sort of informative and comprehensive FPP about an unexplored corner of the web that got me hooked on MeFi to begin with.
posted by ipe at 1:53 PM on November 25, 2005

Oh, this is fun.
posted by caddis at 2:54 PM on November 25, 2005

My friend's Czech girlfriend will often hear an '80s tune and recognise it from the eastern bloc version she grew up with - i.e. an unattributed cover version with the same tune but no decadent capitalist undertones to corrupt impressionable youth. It took her a while when she got here (the UK) to realise east had ripped off west, rather than vice versa.
posted by simcd at 3:25 PM on November 25, 2005

I'm with you ipe -- this is definately best of the web.
posted by Faze at 3:26 PM on November 25, 2005

Languagehat, you've written one of my all-time favorite posts here. Thanks so much!
posted by melissa may at 3:36 PM on November 25, 2005

I managed to see some of the wizard of oz, or perhaps "international oz", or whatever its known as, in turkish once. Rather frightening, yet enjoyable.
posted by taursir at 4:40 PM on November 25, 2005

This was just featured on my NPR and now I get to see it on MeFi.

The world is good!
posted by stirfry at 4:56 PM on November 25, 2005

Hat, you've outdone yourself. I lift my magic vodka glass.... now where were those zakuski?
posted by zaelic at 5:02 PM on November 25, 2005

Bonus: today's Democracy Now! has a full hour on Yip Harburg, the man behind the musical curtain of Oz.
posted by wheelieman at 5:11 PM on November 25, 2005

A more recent example of literary "hommage":
Harry Potter, meet Таня Гроттер*
*Tanya Grotter
posted by rob511 at 5:31 PM on November 25, 2005

There is also, incidentally, a ripped-off Turkish movie version of the Wizard of Oz almost as bizarre as the ripped-off Turkish Star Wars. Don't know if that was what taursir was referring to or not.
posted by kyrademon at 11:31 PM on November 25, 2005

Holy moly, languagehat. Thank you.

I'm already happily lost in the links. There's one picture of a peg-legged sailor talking to two children (that look like the classic "Dick and Jane"), that made me laugh out loud.
posted by reflecked at 2:24 AM on November 26, 2005

Lovely post, languagehat.

I watched a Turkish film version of the Wizard of Oz (Aysecik ve Sihirlib Cucler Ruyalar Ulkesinde) last year that was, well, rather free in its adaptation. It didn't have subtitles, either, so the best part came after the screening when it turned out everyone in the audience had been supplying their own adaptation of the adaptation depending on their memories of the original. (Depending on who you believe, it's the worst film ever made, a camp classic, or an 'enchiridion of cinematic insanity'. I'd agree with the latter if I knew what enchiridion means.)
posted by jack_mo at 4:42 AM on November 26, 2005

Thanks languagehat that was great. I love getting an 'insider' entrance to the undernet -- the huge slab of the world whose written script one can't even guess about -- there is such a wealth of digital goodness out there and for most of us it virtually impenetrable to any great or logical degree.
posted by peacay at 10:48 AM on November 26, 2005

Thank you languagehat!

I remember reading all the books in that series in my community library right around third grade. They were some of the best children's books that I actually read as a child.
posted by azazello at 3:02 PM on November 27, 2005

L. Frank Baum actually directed silent film versions of his own OZ books in the early 1900s. They absolutely stink to high heaven. Worst effect: some big bruiser dressed as the Patchwork Girl, doing back flips.
posted by Faze at 3:35 PM on November 27, 2005

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