Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

From the publisher (HarperCollins):

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

About the Author

from (Wikipedia, free online encyclopedia)

Gregory MaguireGregory Maguire (born June 9, 1954 in Albany, New York) is an American author. He is the author of the novels Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and many other novels for adults and children. Many of Maguire's adult novels are revisionist retellings of classic children's stories: for example, in Wicked he transformed the Wicked Witch of the West from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into the sympathetic protagonist Elphaba. Wicked was turned into a hit Broadway musical of the same name.

He received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children's Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organization has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.


from (www.allreaders.com)

Wicked takes the reader to the land of Oz--only this time from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba. Elphaba, is portrayed bu the author as a sympathetic character despite her ugliness. The Wizard is a corrupt politico and a tyrant. Galinda (later Glinda) is a something of a silly snobbish sorority girl type. Animals can speak and are an oppressed minority. The story begins with Elphaba's childhood where she is largely responsible for her younger sister, who has no arms. She goes off to the University, where she becomes involved in a revolutionary movement against the tyranical wizard and his minions.

This is not a children's book. Maguire uses the events and the characters of the original Baum novel to create a world that is quite the opposite of that.

Jack Goodstein, Resident Scholar

Wicked is the story of Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west in The Wizard of Oz. Her tale begins with an adulterous conception - a travelling stranger gives a strange potion to her mother. Much of her unhappy childhood is skipped. She has green skin and is allergic to water, so of course she's regarded as a freak. Her sister, the wicked witch of the east, was born with no arms, so she too is looked on unfavorably. But the two go off to college, and meet with all manner of beings in this fantasyscape. It is in college that Elphaba develops a desire for political change. She ends up dropping out and living incognito in the city of Oz, where she takes a lover. The next portion of the novel describes her adulthood in yet another land where she evolves into her reputation, biologically engineering monkeys with wings, taking jaunts on her broomstick and hearing about Dorothy and her mission.

Krisha Williams, Resident Scholar

Gregory Maguire reimagines L. Frank Baum's world of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba is born with the dual disabilities of green skin and a severe allergy to water. The daughter of a preacher and a philandering hedonist, little Elphaba is an outcast in Munchkinland. When she leaves home to attend college in Gillikin, the north of Oz, she rooms with her future archnemesis, Glinda, a shallow and pampered socialite. Elphaba discovers in college both an affinity for the life sciences and a political passion for fighting the dictatorial Wizard of Oz, whose edicts have stripped sentient Animals of their basic rights.

When she leaves college, Elphaba becomes a freedom fighter amidst the corruption of the Emerald City. But when her first true love falls victim to a political assassination, she vanishes to western Oz, the land of Winkies, and, disillusioned and embittered, reinvents herself as the Witch of the West. Elphaba finds a sort of peace among the Winkies until the day a tornado lands a foreign little girl and her dog in Oz, accidentally killing Elphaba's sister. When Glinda foolishly send the little girl to the Emerald City, the child may inadvertently play into the oppressive power of the Wizard and Elphaba must take action against the foreigner and protect the land of Oz.

Jennifer Martin-Romme, Resident Scholar

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Page last updated: Thursday, November 1, 2007