Going Nowhere

I’m not sure where the joke of making Nowhere a physical place and/or Nobody a person originated. I guess there was a variety on that sort of joke in the Odyssey, when Odysseus told Polyphemus his name was Nobody. Sir Thomas More’s Utopia is based on the Greek for “no place.” And of course there’s the bit in Through the Looking-Glass with the White King mistaking Nobody for a person. So it isn’t too surprising that this trope would eventually make it into the Oz series. In fact, the oddest part might be that it didn’t show up until the twenty-fifth book, Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Pirates in Oz. Captain Salt and his crew find an dull wooded island, and Nowhere turns out to be a clearing in the woods containing a thatched cottage known as Nobodies’ Home.

It is, in fact, home to the Nobodies, people with heads, legs, and arms, but no bodies.

Their leader is Nobody Much, and the others include Nobody Else, Nobody At All, and Nobody Knows. They rarely say anything but “no,” and hence aren’t people anyone would want to hang around. The rest of the island is mostly uninhabited, but it was where King Ato discovered Breakfast, the Bananny Goat. There’s been no news from the island since then, aside from a brief indication that Sarah Palin wanted to build a bridge to there.

So if there’s a Nowhere in the Nonestic world, there must also be a Somewhere, right? Actually, Thompson used that idea before she took over writing the Oz books, in her Marvelous Travels on a Wish. This tale had several characters attempting to reach Somewhere Else where their wishes would come true, only to find nothing but disappointment once they got there. Somewhere in Oz, which David Perry and Humpty visit in The Enchanted Island of Oz, is a more pleasant location. It’s a glamorous city on the shore of the inland sea in the Gillikin Country. The people are rather haughty, dressing in finery, living in small castles, and spending their time in leisure activities. Oddly enough, their ruler Queen Else is a rather humble and friendly sort, very tall and regal in appearance, but not above gathering eggs laid by china chickens. When David and Humpty meet her, she’s dressed in overalls, hence perhaps being the first woman in the series specifically said to wear pants. The gatekeeper of the city is a dragon named Dismocolese, whom Else put on a diet of raw beef and greens. He still desires to eat people, however, and David had to wade out into the sea to escape him. (Being a fire-breathing dragon, Dismo can’t stand water.) The Queen claims that he’s the last dragon in existence, although this obviously isn’t the case.

So that’s Nowhere and Somewhere. The location of Anywhere remains unknown, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it somewhere in or near Oz.

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6 Responses to Going Nowhere

  1. vilajunkie says:

    Awww. I was going to write about a Nowhere in the Oz stories. But there’s still Here, There, Over There, and Everywhere available, right? And a Hop, a Skip, and a Jump?

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