Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Way to go, Enid!

How about that! Enid Blyton voted best loved author in an adult poll – and if I’d had a say, that’s where my vote would have gone, much as I love Roald Dahl and Stephen King and Bill Bryson too. (Beatrix Potter, on the other hand, would not have been considered for a spot in the Top Ten.)

Enid Blyton was one of my favourite authors as a kid – hell, I’m only minimally embarrassed to say that I read her fairy stories and all her school stories even now. St Clare’s, Malory Towers, The Naughtiest Girl series… all still firm favourites with me. For some reason, I outgrew the Famous Five a long while back (basically when I began to find Julian an annoying too-big-for-his-boots teenager rather than an ideal older brother!) and I never did like The Secret Seven at all, not even as a young ‘un.

I’ve always thought it a shame that recent reprints of her books are “cleaned up” for her modern, supposedly more politically correct readership. It’s stupid to call her racist and old-fashioned and sexist because she was only reflecting her times. Are they going to sanitise ALL books from previous, less politically-correct eras? It would not only be impossible, it would be impossibly stupid to even try. All you would need, if you were an anal policy implementer who follows the letter of the law and not its spirit, is a foreword to explain that certain terms/attitudes that appear in the books are not polite or tolerated usage now, but are left in for authenticity!

Anyway, three cheers for Enid Blyton. Long may her stories live!


brinda said...

lovely! and are you serious? there are PC versions of enid blyton? gawd! are people mad? what next? a PC version of jane eyre? hah!

Teesu said...

Hear hear! Absolutely with you:) She is the ultimate for a child...and for the children in us!

Kamini said...

Oh goody! And I thought I was the only adult (secretly) reading Enid Blytons (I will NEVER tire of the Mallory Towers series) at bedtime! The Faraway Tree books were fun too, especially all that yummy food.

WA said...

Hi Shyam
Totally agree with you on the PC stuff, but saying that I do remember feeling uncomfortable whilst reading Noddy to the lad who was then just over a year old. I clearly remember the discomfort when I read out gollywog and then put that book away and never did I read that book out to him again.

I know kids pick up words and he now knows words which are a hell of lot worse than Gollywog but did I want my toddler to repeat it at the nursery. Nope. So to a certain extent I can see the reasoning behind it i guess

Pollux aka Paps said...

Agree completely, Shyam. We were a generation that grew up on Enid's work. But my kids don't. Dana's reading tastes are quite eclectic and include some of Blyton's works only...

Anu said...

OMG (shriek), are you kidding?!! To this day, one of my guiltiest pleasures remains sitting down with one of the Wishing Chair books and some munchies...!
So glad Enid got the position she deserves!
I too loved all the St. Clare's, Malory Towers and Five Find-Outers series-what a joy and treasure they all were!

umm oviya said...

i looooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvveeeeee her. and reliving every moment through my 6 year old who is at present into Noddy and Faraway Tree and the likes. And we had so much fun with Moonface, Twinky and Saucepan Man.
Seriously are they re-writing stuff. Maybe time to scout around second hand stores and grab the older editions.

shyam said...

Brin: yes! It's true! The most ostentatiously PC reprints being of Noddy (didnt like the Noddy series that much, so didnt mind) :)

Teesu: So true!

Kamini: Yes yes yes! :) The food was always such an attraction :D Although I never did twig on to the fact that things like "tongue" sandwiches were literally that - made of animal tongues! (ugh)

WA: Yeah... I guess I see your point. Although I might have just shortened the name to "Golly" :)

Paps: C'mon, we read a whole lot of other authors too. But perhaps today's kids are more grown-up than we were, right from the start.

Anu: :D I shrieked at your "and some munchies" addition :) That's one of my guilty pleasures too!

Umm Oviya: Yep :) The Magic Faraway Tree was soooo much fun. Still is.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in India, it was always fascinating to read about what kids my age in England were up to. I used to be positively jealous of the picnics the famous five would take....and the delicious food they would take along (they almost always had cucumber sandwiches, and to this day i am obsessed with them.)

About changing the language, i am with you on that. It reflects the times she wrote all her stories in. I remember how upset I was when I learnt that 'Tintin in Congo' was out of print in English because of the racist overtones in the story. Of course there are racist overtones! Congo was a Belgium colony for many years and references to 'black people' and slaves existed in those days and will continue to remain in history books howmuchever we try to erase them. I would rather not sanitize the writing.

shyam said...

Globalindyan: I lurve cucumber sandwiches too... although my lurve derives from "The Importance of Being Earnest" :)