Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Martin Gardner

Noted author and scholar Martin Gardner passed away this past week at the age of 95. I first came across him when I was about 10 years old, as the author of The Annotated Alice (which was originally published in 1960 - the year I was born). I later learned of his Oz scholarship, including the fact that he was a founding member of The International Wizard of Oz Club, as well as the author of a variety of articles and essays on Oz topics.

In 1955 he wrote a two-part article on L. Frank Baum, published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which helped bring national attention to Oz at a time when the books were being banned in many libraries across the country. He worked with Russell B. Nye to produce the first book length academic study of Oz, The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was. He even published his own Oz book, Visitors From Oz, in 1998.

Michael Hearn sent me this tribute, which was written for the Scientific American website. I'm posting it here with his permission:


(1914 - 2010)

Martin Gardner was my literary godfather. He was the most generous man I have ever known. I owe him everything. When I was only 20, he convinced Clarkson N. Potter to contract my book The Annotated Wizard of Oz as a successor to his own superb and now classic The Annotated Alice. He was always recommending me to editors he knew even up to last year. We often exchanged articles before publication to get the other's thoughts on the subject. Mine benefited inestimably from his input. While he could so adroitly explain the most complex concepts to layman and expert alike, he retained the curiosity and the heart of a child. His integrity was impeccable, his prose lucid and profound.
His influence was vast. Few realize that an article he wrote on L. Frank Baum and the Oz Books in The New York Times Book Review inspired the Broadway musical The Wiz. Who else was quoted by John Fowles in The French Lieutenant's Woman and named by Nabokov a character in Ada or Ardor? Of course it was his sister Judy, not Martin, who told me that. He was the gentlest and most modest of men. A true gentleman. Like everyone who had the honor of knowing him, I feel blessed to have been his friend and he mine. I will miss him terribly.--Michael Patrick Hearn

1 comment:

Glenn Ingersoll said...

My childhood copy of Wizard was the Dover reprint. It held up amazingly; I carried it everywhere. And the Martin Gardner essay that appeared in the back of that book fascinated me as it talked about so much Baum that wasn't available. When I found out about the Oz books by subsequent authors I wrote all the titles in at the end of the Gardner essay. Later I was appalled by my defacing of the book (& by my poor penmanship?) and tried to erase what I'd written. Ha. As if!