Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wicked - The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Unbelievably epic and rich in detail.

I first read Wicked a few years ago and having just seen Wicked - The Musical, decided to re-read it.

I'm amazed at how much I had forgotten.

I remembered my surprise upon reading it the first time at how political Elphaba's life was but so much had escaped me.

As is his wont, Gregory Maguire takes a key but hardly central character from the Wizard of Oz and fleshes out her backstory with stunning imagination. He hones in on and explores the question of the Wicked Witch of the West's essential wickedness.

It's significant that the subtitle of the book is The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and the subtitle of the musical is The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz. The fundamental theme of the musical is friendship and the musical really does not even touch the issue of evil. The fundamental question in the book is the question of the nature of evil and time and again, throughout the book, Maguire returns to this theme.

In the Grimmerie, the keepsake companion book to the musical, Maguire notes that he came away from the Wizard of Oz wondering why the Wicked Witch of the West was wicked and why it was necessary for Dorothy to kill her. Wanting to write a book exploring the nature of evil, Maguire saw Elphaba as an ideal vehicle.

Oftentimes, when I'm reading a book for the first time, I'm reading for plot and much of the detail gets lost. Because Wicked is so rich and so deep, it's amazing to read it a second time and realize how much is really there.

1 comment:

Susan said...

I'm keen on reading Frank L. Baum's original series too. I think there's like a dozen books in the Oz series.