Author Topic: The Enid Blyton Thread  (Read 1528 times)

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Offline The Test Card Girl

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The Enid Blyton Thread
« on: April 28, 2017, 08:30:24 AM »
You *never* have to grow out of reading Enid Blyton books.

This thread is for those who grew up reading Enid Blyton books, such as school stories like Malory Towers and St. Clares; adventure stories like Famous Five, Secret Seven and the Five Find-Outers (and dog); magic stories such as Faraway Tree and the Wishing Chair and children's books such as Noddy.

We can discuss a variety of subjects all relating back to Blyton books, from the light (which character did you most want to be to which food sounded the tastiest) to the heavier (dissecting racism and name changes in Blyton books).

Blyton was a prolific British children's author, who wrote during the 1920s through 1960s. Her most popular books mainly centered on young children, who all had wonderful adventures, whether it was foiling a smugglers' plot or visiting a fairyland via a magical treetop.

== personal thoughts ==

Some of the Bowdleriser's choices are bizarre; there's no need to hide the fact that the characters use pre-decimal currency.

Zerelda Brass in Malory Towers has lost her Victory Rolls* hairstyle and now has some unspecified "elaborate hairstyle".

From the Famous Five, Anne Kirrin stating that boys cannot wear pretty dresses or like dolls has been removed.

(* - for younger readers: During World War II, many things were give the sobriquet Victory or Liberty).

Online DNAgenie

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2017, 05:13:29 PM »
I grew up reading the Enid Blyton books and I thirsted for more issues of the various Adventure series and Mallory Towers. I did read the Magic Faraway Tree but thought it was pretty silly. Noddy was not on my radar.

I identified with characters like George in the Four Goes Adventuring books, and Bill in Mallory Towers, as many girls did who did not accept the female stereotype of the times, even in those days. I naturally assumed I could do all the things boys did, and I followed a traditionally male-oriented career path as a scientist.

Viva Enid Blyton.

Offline Превед

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2017, 07:50:43 AM »
I remember reading several of those short Five series books by Enid Blyton (as a Norwegian kid in pre-Internet days I assumed the author was a man) in Norwegian translation when I was 10-12, I suppose. What I most remember was the sexual tension in them, perhaps due to the focus on excitement, adventure, gender roles, transgressions, getting locked up in dark dungeons, kidnappings etc. by a mixed group of boys and girls coupled with a puritanical and prudish restraint typical of Britain in that age. And if I don't remember too wrong there were rather detailled descriptions of the looks of these kids and the adults they encountered.

To sum it up it was like: Here we have a group of beautiful blond children frolicking wildly (nude?) on a deserted beach when suddenly one of them falls into a dark dungeon dug by evil, predatory, swarthy robbers. Will he or she be saved or will he / she be left to the dark desires of the robbers who will have their way with him / her before his / her brave and beautiful friends can rescue her?

Entertaining, but gave young pre-pubescent me some strange ideas.....

I think the sexual aspect came off so strongly because these books had no other theme, like other children's books which were about friendship, family, imagination, good vs. evil, finding yourself, knowledge, moral dillemmas, love, life, death etc. These books were only about transgressive adventures, with a cast of children that made no impression on the reader except their physical presence and agility. In short these books were like a children's version of the works of Marquis de Sade's!
« Last Edit: April 29, 2017, 08:17:23 AM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Kimberly

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2017, 04:24:31 AM »
Seriously!!!! Don't forget the ever so slightly sadistic " LASHINGS of ginger beer " in the picnic basket :-)
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Offline Превед

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2017, 08:18:01 AM »
Seriously!!!! Don't forget the ever so slightly sadistic " LASHINGS of ginger beer " in the picnic basket :-)

Haha, great, thanks for leading me to this apparantly famous parody of the series emphasizing exactly the features I noticed as a kid!
Five go mad in Dorset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_KfQ0pD2gw

But then I'm Norwegian and we are a strange lot: A well-known Norwegian children's author, Gro Dahle, is now writing a book about pornography for children! https://www.nrk.no/kultur/xl/_-det-er-ikke-sa-farlig-at-barn-ser-pa-porno-1.13491801

Norwegian children's books that had to be censured in the US: https://www.nrk.no/kultur/bok/dette-er-for-droyt-for-amerikanske-barn-1.13377055 (Swipe bar in the pictures to see differences between Norwegian and American covers, mostly issues with nudity, peeing and a knife!)
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 08:20:01 AM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline TimM

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2018, 12:03:52 PM »
Truth be told, I'd never heard of this person until now.
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Offline PAGE

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2018, 03:44:32 PM »
I know for the "Club des 5". Not fan, but essential in children's literature.

Offline Greenowl

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2018, 05:12:38 PM »
I loved the mystery and adventure books as a child, especially "The Five Find outers" series. I was less impressed with the better known "Famous Five" and "Secret Seven".
Cheers,
GREENOWL

Offline Diotima

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2018, 03:42:43 AM »
In Germany, Enid Blyton is HUGE, and they continued some of her series with German writers. I always loved Malory Towers, the Adventure series, and some of her stand-alone books about families - Five Bad Boys, Those Dreadful Children and the Mistletoe books. I still re-read my old Enid Blytons, there is nothing better for those escapist evenings... ;-)

She was also a great nature writer. Her books about animals, insects and plants are wonderful. She was an interesting, complex woman, and I also read her biography and saw the mini series with Helena Bonham Carter.

Her books may be formulaic and full of prejudice against anyone not belonging to the "core group" but they turned many children into life-long readers.

Offline TimM

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2018, 12:01:14 PM »
Had to go to Wikipedia for this. 

Poor woman, a victim of Alzheimer's Disease.
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Offline Greenowl

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2018, 04:15:00 PM »
In Germany, Enid Blyton is HUGE, and they continued some of her series with German writers. I always loved Malory Towers, the Adventure series, and some of her stand-alone books about families - Five Bad Boys, Those Dreadful Children and the Mistletoe books. I still re-read my old Enid Blytons, there is nothing better for those escapist evenings... ;-)

She was also a great nature writer. Her books about animals, insects and plants are wonderful. She was an interesting, complex woman, and I also read her biography and saw the mini series with Helena Bonham Carter.

Her books may be formulaic and full of prejudice against anyone not belonging to the "core group" but they turned many children into life-long readers.

I totally agree about the stand-alone books as "The six cousins at Mistletoe farm" is my very favourite Enid Blyton book and I actually still read it from time to time. Her books bring me back to the simpler days of my childhood when I first read them. Although there are no televisions, computer games or mobile phones in them my son also enjoyed them when he was younger. Enid Blyton was a very complex person and I think that for her, writing the books and "inventing" an ideal world was a means of escaping from the more unpleasant realities of life. By coincidence, 28th. November marked the 50th. anniversary of her death.
Cheers,
GREENOWL

Offline TimM

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2018, 12:06:24 AM »
Looks like she has a lot of fans here.
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Offline Превед

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2018, 10:53:32 AM »
In Germany, Enid Blyton is HUGE, and they continued some of her series with German writers.

I find it interesting to compare her work (which I'm only familiar with through the Famous Five series) with Ehm Welk's contemporary "Die Heiden von Kummerow", which I only know from the BRD-DDR co-production movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwELAZff7rs Even though Welk's novel and the movie focuses on a whole community (seen through children's eyes) and Blyton only on a group of children, both seem strangely exotic today: The children's world as sharply divided from the adults' world, an adventurous, unsupervized free-range outdoors world (where expensive toys count for very little), violent and proto-fascist but also staunchly oppositional and unculturedly barbaric - most poignantly expressed in how die Heiden, the heathens (i.e. children) of the Pomeranian village recreate the traditional spring bath whereby the original Slavic inhabitants of the village resisted Christianisation.

Before 1968, perhaps "childhood" was that "strange land" / other place which youth / teens later became and still is.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 11:03:19 AM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline TimM

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2018, 11:18:53 AM »
Quote
In Germany, Enid Blyton is HUGE, and they continued some of her series with German writers.

Which is ironic, considering that Ms. Blyton was British.
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Offline Превед

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Re: The Enid Blyton Thread
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2018, 06:07:09 AM »
Quote
In Germany, Enid Blyton is HUGE, and they continued some of her series with German writers.

Which is ironic, considering that Ms. Blyton was British.

British culture is in its basics a unique blend of German (Germanic) and French (Romance) culture, just like the English language. Besides, there is in Blyton's work, as I've noted earlier in this thread, a perverse whiff of proto-fascism, the Übermensch and a rigid caste system. I'm not saying that Germans were deliberately seeking this out, rather that they in the postwar years came upon a popular writer of children's literature whom they trusted, as a Briton, to have "sound and democratic" values. But the reason why she appealed to them, besides writing a children's equivalent of mass-produced orgy porn, might have been her decidedly right-wing perspectives. Something she, as a writer on the victorious Allied side could be allowed to, but German writers couldn't, so their books were boring. (Read Siegfried Lenz's Deutschstunde, The German Lesson, for an entertaining discussion of this pedagogic issue.)

Do note I write this as someone whose political ideas some people would brand right-wing and right-radical. Besides not wanting to kill people and abolish democracy it's one of the ways I know I'm not a fascist: That I love many of the books the fascists burned. But it takes a better writer than Enid Blyton to write things that are good, true and beautiful. Thomas Mann is a great German example, but the Germans have had very few such writers of children's literature after the Brothers Grimm. (Whereas the British have had so many: Lewis Carrol, Charles Dickens, A.E. Milne, C.S. Lewis, Rudyard Kipling, Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl etc.)

I'm more amazed she was popular in France. But there are a lot of hidden, unexpected strains in French society, among them a very rigid class system which parallells British society as featured in Blyton's books very well.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 06:24:43 AM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)