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Discussion in 'Book club' started by LossieLaxton, Jan 19, 2014.
Agree. Agree and agree some more.
Me too. It was in the 80's when one was expected to decry the books of Enid Blyton, the pop songs of ABBA and the ideals of societal responsibility, as opposed to obscene personal wealth accumulation, that I first realised I was not a crowd follower or very much influenced by popular opinion. It was very liberating.
I really wanted to be part of Mr Galliano's Circus, travelling in an old wooden gypsy caravan. I loved the famous Five but Anne's attitude about what a girl should be like really annoyed me. Maybe we should give the readers the benefit of the doubt and realise that they know these ideas are out of date and a thing of the past. We don't change Dickens or Austen's work because it doesn't hold with current ideas, we accept them as something from the past. Maybe we should think of Blyton's books in the same way?
Everyone praises Little Women as "proto-feminist" (it isn't. it's the book in which "Father" is treated as some sort of God-like figure). Everyone praises Jane Austen and ignores that she was have shared many of her era's horrible views on race and non-Christian religions (almost no one back then believed that Jews were as a group, morally equal to Christians),
I loved Enid Blyton. Famous Five, Mallory Towers, Mr Pink whistle, Betsy May, Mr Twiddle and Mr Galliano's Circus were my favourites. My brother liked Noddy and later the Enchanted Wood. Had to read them at home though as we weren't allowed to take them into school!
There was very little (if any) Enid Blyton in our school library. I wondered why, when I had loved them so much, and they were so exciting they taught me to read quickly and accurately. Anyway, I asked around school what books the teachers read and loved as children. With only one exception in a two form entry primary, every single teacher over 40 said Enid Blyton. At which point I decided that it certainly didn't do any harm to teacher's learning, and bought some for the school. The most read in our school were the Faraway Tree and the schools series. I read every one I coud get my hands on, owning some and the rest from the library. My personal favourites were the Adventure series. George was my heroine.
So much criticism of her work comes from misunderstanding it and so much revision to make it ‘palatable’ just undermines the entire point of what she’s saying.
You can’t remove reference to George’s short hair making her look like a boy because girls don’t need long hair to be feminine when the entire point of her character is that she likes being mistaken for a boy and would prefer to be one.
You can’t take away Dame Slap’s corporal punishment because she was supposed to show that it is wrong and abhorrent.
You can’t say that she’s too focused on the middle and upper classes because of her boarding school novels and then ignore the multiple books where the parents are clearly not well off - witness in The Faraway Tree series that they had to walk through the village to a house on the outskirts where their mother took a job as a washerwoman. When multiple plots in the boarding school books revolve around how bad it is to judge people for their wealth or lack of it.
You can’t call her sexist because some characters express sexist views - I’m looking at you Julian and Anne - but ignore how well-rounded, diverse, loud, soft, pushy, bossy, cruel, kind, serious, and silly her women are. Sure George and Anne might hold that belief of women, but watch Darrell fly into a towering rage at the mere thought.
Her attitudes towards race are twisted to make her look bad. In Enid Blyton's Magazine, she welcomes Letters from all over the British Commonwealth and talks about White and Black children "playing together just like the United Nations"/
Things were bad enough in the forties and fifties without modern dim-bulbs making stuff up.
Magic Faraway Tree, every time.
Oh yes, I loved her books as a child, especially Famous Five and Malory Towers
Magic faraway tree for me too. All those amazing moments with Dick and Fanny.
I loved her books, too, and as another poster also said, they helped me improve my reading. I think that's because I wanted to read them, and got a lot of enjoyment from them.
I wonder if the Bowdlerisers have fixed the plot hole about that governess of Gwendoline's! Gwen's nearly twenty and at school for ten months of the year, so why in the name of the dead gods of Krypton is she still employed by the Laceys?
Ummm...not sure which version you read ( or imagined) but it was Joe, Bessie and Fanny!
Not read the whole thread so apologies if I repeat anything...dismayed to find that they have turned into Joe, Beth and Franny in updated versions...and daddy now returns from doing the shopping for mummy, instead of just from the office!
Dick was in the Famous Five.
Why were Jill and Mary re-named? Yeah there aren't many Jill's anymore but Mary won't go out of fashion, It just won't.
Loved the Famous Five, but disliked the Secret Seven
It should be noted that it's a big deal that Jo Jones steals five pounds from the School Matron (think school nurse in America and Canada). As one pound at the time Malory Towers was written is worth about sixty pounds in 2019, you can understand why in the book, stealing FIVE pounds is a big reason Jo is expelled.
Yes I had many Famous Five and Secret Seven books as a child in the early sixties and agree that the modernisation attempts really are not very clever at all.
There's nothing like the British Bulldog spirit as Enid shows - "Tom was glad neither Jill nor Mary cried. That would show the enemy how brave British children could be!"
Secret Seven fan here.
Noddy used to scare me witless (as a child!!) - some weird stuff going on there.
I still love Enid Blyton. I still have the hard back copies of several Famous Five books, plus Secret Seven and The Mystery of ........ which were passed on to me by a cousin in the early 60s. Also some less well known books of hers - Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm.
I passed this love onto my daughter, now a doctor. I remember when we were looking at unis for her ... on a visit to Bath, which was then a fairly small campus university, she said, 'I love it here, it's just like a modern Malory Towers.'
During this lockdown, I've read the five new Malory Towers books. I quite enjoyed them!
Does anyone else remember the Enid Blyton monthly magazine ... I think it might have been called 'A Story Party at Green Hedges?'