Leave the Real World Far Behind


If you’ve watched the DiC Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoons, you’ll know that the inhabitants of the Mushroom World are always referring to the Earth we know as “the real world.” Wouldn’t their own world be more real to them?

It makes no sense, but I don’t know that anyone would really expect better from such a show. Besides, I’ve given my own tongue-in-cheek explanation for it. What bugs me more is that a few of Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Oz books use the same designation, as seen in Pirates in Oz when King Ato says, “We’re halfway over the Munchkin country now and if we keep this up we’ll shoot straight out of this Imagi-Nation and land in some real country where no one will believe in us at all.” Waddy the Wizard also refers to the “realms of Reality” in Speedy.

This seems to me to show the same general prejudice as when Prince Tatters says Dorothy discovered Oz. So what’s a better name for the non-magical world? L. Frank Baum generally used “Great Outside World,” although this sometimes referred to non-fairylands and other times to everything outside Oz proper. I also kind of like the term “unfairyland,” as it reflects both the non-fairy nature and the general unfairness of life in our world, as opposed to the lands of fairy tales where good always triumphs over evil. I don’t recall this term actually being used in the books, but Princess Gureeda of Umbrella Island does read books of Unfairy Tales.

Other fantasy series have their own ways of differentiating magical lands from ordinary ones. Piers Anthony uses “Mundania” in his Xanth books, although I don’t believe he invented it. Bill Willingham’s Fables comics have the Fables using the similar “Mundy.” In Harry Potter’s wizarding world, non-magical folk are called Muggles. There’s often a sense of insult inherent in these terms, as when generic space aliens call us “Earthlings.” Incidentally, the word “Earthling” was apparently first used in this sense by Robert Heinlein in 1949, but it previously existed as a way to refer to mortals as opposed to the inhabitants of Heaven. At least, that’s what Wikipedia tells me. Ozites sometimes use “Earth person” to refer to people from the Outside World, as seen when Ugu the Shoemaker calls Dorothy an “Earth girl.” This designation is a bit odd, however, as Baum usually presented Oz as part of our Earth. A magical part, yes, but the idea that it’s in some other universe or dimension is a considerably more recent one. Jared Davis addresses this subject in his post on Oz as other-world. I think this might reflect the time in which Baum wrote more than anything else, as an unexplored part of our globe would have been easier to accept in the early twentieth century than it is today. Also, if you’re considering the Thompson books, she introduces another whole continent in Captain Salt. Wherever its physical location, however, Oz is definitely a fairyland, both in the sense of being magical and of having been enchanted by fairies.

This entry was posted in Authors, Harry Potter, L. Frank Baum, Mario, Oz, Oz Authors, Piers Anthony, Ruth Plumly Thompson, Television, Xanth and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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