Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Leave Enid Blyton Alone!

No, no, no, no, no!

Isn't it bad enough that poor Enid Blyton has been criticized for years, accused of bigotry, racism and poor writing but now her publishers, Hodder, with the consent of her granddaughter, Sophie Smallwood, have rewritten the adventures of The Famous Five.

That's right - rewritten The Famous Five! The whole series has been dissected line by line and words deemed "old fashioned" have been substituted by the modern equivalent. For example, "mother" and "father" are now "mum" and "dad" and "tinkers" are "travellers." Characters have been tampered with to be made to appear more equal and less gender specific; Anne no longer has dolls; she has teddy bears!

If you've read my article A Childhood in Fiction, you'll remember how significant The Famous Five series was in my development as a reader and how I loved those stories. I was reading those books in the early 1970s when I was around 8 years old and it didn't matter to me that those books were dated even back then. Fiction is a land of escapism, a place to let your imagination run free, to experience other times and dimensions. It doesn't have to bang up to date and politically correct. Children need to recognize and disseminate information for themselves. I just wish those who pursue these politically correct avenues would just for once sit back and think about how much is being lost for sometimes very little gain. Although, in this case, I imagine they believe it will a very big financial gain.....

I've ranted in depth about political correctness in literature before in my article In Defence of Thomas (that's Thomas the Tank Engine) yet I'm not someone who is resistant to change; generally I embrace it. But changing our past? Nope, sorry. That's tampering with history. Even Dr Who will tell you that's not a good idea.

The Famous Five is period literature which has lasted the test of time. Let it remain that way. There's enough talented writers around to write new and modern adventure series if that's what publishers want. This politically correct movement to modify literature really concerns me. Where does such progression become regression and, ultimately, censorship?

To read my article A Childhood in Fiction click here
To read my article In Defense of Thomas click here
To read an in depth article on the changes made to The Famous Five, read this article at The Daily Telegraph.

6 comments:

  1. Hmmm. I'm not quite sure where I stand on this.
    As you know I am not desperately politically correct, but I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing that some of the gender stereotyping gets the heave-ho. I'm not sure we are at the point yet where Enid Blyton can all be regarded as interesting historical documentation of past attitudes. Or maybe we are, but an 8 yr old would probably not realise, and end up being reinforced in the girls (and women) are soppy vibe.

    On the other hand maybe the school stories like Malory Towers and St Clare's are somehow more like period pieces which could stand as they are?

    Shoot me down Mrs T!

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  2. Outrageous, outrageous comment Miss F! George is a soppy vibe?! She is a covert lesbian!!!!!!

    Okay, I've got to dash out with Master Sam for some sterotypical shopping... Will be back anon:))

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  3. As long as they keep the older ones in print too I suppose I don't mind. I guess they want to make the books readable to the new gen. But as far as I know, Enid Blyton is still quite popular in India, as is--all her different genres of books. My kids were all fans and now my grandson has begun his foray into Enid Blyton world.

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  4. Sue - that's a good point. There must be millions of Blyton's books in circulation but so long as the publishers make it clear these are revised works at least that will give parents the choice over which edition they buy:)

    I'm pleased to hear your children and grandson enjoyed Enid too - what better way to get started in the world of Make Believe:)

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  5. Alright Ms F - Ms F it is!

    (I'm thinking up a water-tight argument - expect a reply in about 2 months!)

    Okay I've changed my mind.... I disagree with you! Leave Enid and The Famous Five alone! She's a national treasure! Rewrite Noddy instead - he's a scheming little greedy sixpence hoarding puppet and shouldn't be driving without a seatbelt!!!

    (I've not convinced you have I?!)

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