The New York Review of Books review of Daniel Mendelsohn’s Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture (New York Review Collections) , the reviewer summarizes Mendelsohn’s comparison of Avatar and Wizard of Oz . Dorothy awakens at the end, Mendelsohn writes, “with all that she has learned from her remarkable odyssey, not the least of which is a strong new awareness of her own human abilities - she wakes to the realities, and the responsibilities, of the human world she’d temporarily escaped from.”

Avatar’s message is “like the message of so much else in mass culture,” which is “that ‘reality’ is dispensable altogether; or, at the very least, is whatever you care to make of it . . . . In this fantasy of a lusciously colorful trip over the rainbow, you don’t have to wake up. ‘There’s no place like home’ has become ‘there’s no need for home.’”

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Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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