4 Pages


When I was a small girl, I was fascinated by The Wizard of Oz-not the celebrated MGM musical, but the original book by L. Frank Baum. What intrigued me was not only its child’s paradise of bright, flat colours, small people, pretty fairies, easy magic and good food, but the way this painted nursery world was always precarious, subject to corruption by a spectacularly dark figure who seemed to have strayed in from another kind of story. To me, the Wicked Witch of the West did not seem to ‘belong’ to the bright and pretty world of Oz; she overwhelmed its illusory harmony; her presence was too strong to be contained within its fictional and discursive borders. She did not make sense taken together with the dainty china milkmaids and cute Munchkins; in some way, she therefore came to stand for the irruption of chilly but exhilarating reality into the artificial security of a comfortably privileged childhood. My identification with such a figure was a secret even from me; I wanted to be her partly so that I would not have to be afraid of her.