Blyton updated
Posted: 24 July 2010 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Here.

“And certain words such as ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ obviously have different meanings nowadays and it’s fair enough to change them. But changes for the sake of them, I disapprove of.”

Summerfield had heard Hodder would change the name of the circus boy, Nobby, in Five Go Off in a Caravan, to Ned, which struck him “as very strange”. “How can you change Nobby to Ned and yet leave Dick and Fanny? It doesn’t make sense.

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Posted: 24 July 2010 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Ugh!

I’m not familiar with Blyton’s books, but I recall The Railway Children and others like it with great fondness. What I loved about those books when I was a kid was the fact that they were of a different era. The language, both the fact that it was British and old, was fascinating and the references to outdated products and devices caused me to ask questions about what life was like back then.

And if there is a problem with the books, is changing the wording going to be enough? I recently reread C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books and I was appalled by the deep and blatant sexism and racism that is present throughout. The books really promulgate some awful ideas about women and Arabs. Updating the language would not fix problems like this. (I’m not saying Blyton’s books have this problem; I don’t know. But an awful lot of older books do.)

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Posted: 24 July 2010 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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What a terrible idea.  Changing “it’s all very peculiar” to “it’s all very strange”?  That’s just dumbing-down, plain and simple.

Also, I agree with Dave about C.S. Lewis.

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Posted: 24 July 2010 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I had wondered if her books were ever popular overseas. Caravan in the book title above would have had to have been changed for an American readership to trailer, though? I never read Blyton either. I preferred the more anarchic William, and Jennings and Derbyshire novels.
When I was about 12 the children in my class were all issued with novels to encourage us to read and I got The Phantom Tollbooth which I refused to read because it looked like a kids’ book (I was well into SF and Alistair MacLean by this time) and because a tollbooth sounded like a ridiculous monster to a Brit. We don’t have tollbooths so the reference was meaningless to me.
I remember enjoying the Narnia novels but any racism, sexism or Christian/anti-pagan allegory completely passed me by back then. Hollywood too, evidently. The best you can say is that Lewis was a product of his time and religion. You can’t polish a thematic turd.
I agree that a lot of the charm of old books lies in their quaint language and kids love this - ‘accost’ was a popular word adopted by my schoolfriends, and ironically invoking ‘youthful high spirits’ to excuse boisterous behaviour to a clueless teacher. We even got one to say angrily “I don’t care if it’s time for din-dins, you must finish this!”
I read that when Babbit was originally published in the UK it had a glossary of American terms and slang later dropped as the world shrank.

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Posted: 24 July 2010 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oh, Blyton’s books are full of outdated ideas but then it would be astonishing if they weren’t. But does it matter? Not a jot. My boys loved the Famous Five books but did they set their moral compass by them? Of course not. They had the wit to realize that these were old books and they ordered things differently in those days. I suppose that I could have looked for a modern version, scrubbed clean of the age they were written in. (This was the 70s/80s when the book police had just begun setting up their stalls). I didn’t and I’d trust my present 13 year old daughter to read the same books (were she to show the slightest interest in anything other than Hannah Montana).

[ Edited: 24 July 2010 07:59 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 24 July 2010 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’m really not certain what Andy Briggs means by saying Sherlock Holmes “needs to be updated”, either. How? And why? Part of the attraction of reading Conan Doyle today, as Dave pointed out with regard to The Railway Children, is the feeling that one is visiting a foreign country, and learning about a time when, for example, there may have been no internet, but you could post a letter in the morning and expect to get a reply by the evening.

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Posted: 24 July 2010 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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"(I’m not saying Blyton’s books have this problem; I don’t know. But an awful lot of older books do.) “

You’re likely to have a few “Oh dear” moments when reading Blyton today. I flicked through her Stories from the Old Testament in a doctor’s waiting room recently.

The Ishmaelites to whom Joseph was sold were described as fearsome and dark-skinned. Now, there’s no reason at all to think the Ishmaelites were intended to be any darker than Joseph and his family, they were all recent descendents of Abraham in the time the tale is set. It’s something Enid has made up, and the only reason to add this is to heighten the sense of Joseph’s fear, because dark-skinned people are so scary.

Oh dear.

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Posted: 25 July 2010 12:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Enid Blyton’s The Golliwog Who Smoked:

http://books.google.com/books?id=aNECAAAAMAAJ&q=golliwog+who+smoked#search_anchor

(edited to give naked url as embedding won’t apparently work)

[ Edited: 25 July 2010 03:25 AM by Zythophile ]
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Posted: 25 July 2010 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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For me your link opens a Google start page. Copyright issues, I presume.

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Posted: 25 July 2010 03:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’ve made it a naked url and it seems to work now …

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Posted: 25 July 2010 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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What I loved about those books when I was a kid was the fact that they were of a different era.

I read them while Blyton was still writing her stories and I loved them because they transported me to a safer, more ordered and more prosperous world, more reminiscent of my parents’ generation than my own.  Her books were as popular in South Africa as they were in England and continued to be so with English-speaking South Africans, even after South Africa had become an apartheid-driven republic.  But I have mixed feelings about rewording - if the alteration of only the odd word here or there makes them more readable to modern children’s ears, and introduces them to a safer, gentler world, then I’m in favour.  If, on the other hand, the alteration dumbs down the reading experience, then I’m not.  Careful editing is the key, if it’s to be done at all.

Enid Blyton in her present form is the author who sparked off my children’s love of books.

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