Nathan (vovat) wrote,

Elf Yourself

With Christmas on its way, I figured an appropriate subject for an Oz post would be elves. Baum used the term a few times, but it was largely just interchangeable with other terms for immortal beings. Queen Zixi of Ix refers to the fairies of Burzee as elves at one point, and Ozma does the same for the Nomes in The Emerald City of Oz. Interestingly, Tolkien initially referred to his Deep Elves as gnomes, although I think he eventually dropped that association. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus has Light Elves, and its Sound Imps are changed to Sound Elves in The Enchanted Island of Yew. Perhaps the most significant elven character in Baum's universe, however, was actually introduced by Ruth Plumly Thompson. In Handy Mandy in Oz, we meet Himself the Elf, who is also sometimes referred to as a dwarf or a gnome (although he's obviously not the same kind of creature as the Nome King, who also shows up in this book). He's under the command of the silver hammer previously owned by Wunchie the Witch, and when summoned, he must do whatever the bearer of the hammer commands. His powers are apparently quite formidable, as the Wizard of Wutz regards the hammer as the second most powerful magic talisman in Oz, after the Magic Belt.

Details on Himself are a bit sketchy. We're told by Thompson that he has a purple beard, and Neill gives him dragonfly wings. The only possible indication I can find in the text for the wings is that he's described as "[f]lying along for a moment beside" Handy Mandy, Nox the Ox, and King Kerry on their trip to the Emerald City; but I think it's really just artistic license. The elf lives in a tree stump, and seems to have a certain degree of autonomy, as shown when he merely knocks Nox (when he was still named Boz) unconscious, rather than killing him as per Wunchie's instructions. Wunchie and Himself both appear in Melody Grandy's The Disenchanted Princess of Oz, and Melody draws the elf quite differently from Neill's depiction.

Himself shows up yet again in Atticus Gannaway's The Silver Sorceress of Oz, which features Sonora, the creator of the silver hammer. I've started writing a story that explains how Himself came to be the slave of the hammer, but I haven't made much progress on it in the past few years. My back burner is overloaded, especially with unfinished Oz stories.
Tags: books, characters, fairies, oz, tolkien, writing

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