When I hear about a book that I should avoid, I will often seek it out. In college, I asked my Chaucer professor if there were any other good works from that time period. He told me to try Gower, but stay away from Lydgate. Of course I ran right out and read Lydgate's "Troy Book."
Within the universe of Oz, there are some books that are *ahem* less esteemed than others. John R. Neill's 3 or 4 contributions seem to fall into this category, so I just had to read them. Ah! I can say that I found them wonders of surreal and psychological phantasmagoria! Well, I do have odd taste, so I won't ask anyone else to like them. Just give them a chance.
Today I want to look at some aspects of "Lucky Bucky in Oz," published in 1942. Neill uses a type of character that I find exciting and numinous---the sentient enclosed space. The living houses of "Wonder City," and the scalawagons exemplify this to a degree, but Davy Jones, the wooden whale, is the best of them. And, Davy is the vehicle for Bucky Jones' rebirth as a citizen of Oz.
Here I must pause to thank the spirit of Erich Neumann (1905-1960), pupil of Carl Jung and author of "The Origins and History of Consciousness." I discovered this work at college some 30 years ago, and whenever I encounter a story that resonates with my soul (Xenogears and Evangelion spring to mind), I get out my Neumann. Joseph Campbell is all right, Julian Jaynes is a bit loopy, so I will stick with...Lacan! No....well....*cough*
Anyway, Bucky Jones arrives inworld when he lands on a dough volcano, a "Doughminion," as it were. This mountain is an unending source of nourishment, indeed the cupboards in the back of the wooden whale are filled with its products. Such is the power of the mountain that even invading pirates are turned into bakers. Hmmm...a metaphor for....well, I'm not using Neumann's "The Great Mother: An Analysis of an Archetype" today, so we'll give that a miss.
Bucky is cast off into the sea where he meets Davy Jones. The wooden whale is monstrous and fascinating to Bucky. It overpowers and befriends him by its swift, strong actions. Davy is older than Bucky, and they share a last name. The wooden whale protects, shelters, and nourishes Bucky, as well as providing him a map to his new life in Oz and the means to follow that map. Traveling inside Davy Jones, Bucky is carried through air and water to the Emerald City. There the boy is symbolicaly reborn as the hero, in that his actions are the catalyst for the transportation of the "Doughminion" to a place where its gifts can be shared by all.
I am wading in deep here, I realize. If Davy is the Good Mother archetype, then imago-Mombi may be the Terrible Mother.... I don't want to say that this is a true interpretation of Neill's work, but Neumann-interpretation has always added a dimension to my reading.