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Thoughts on Enid Blyton

(97 Posts)
Lizita Thu 11-Aug-05 15:10:06

My and my sister were huge fans when we were young, but my mum always hated them, they are very un pc.

I have got a couple from the library for nostalgia's sake and it's so weird to read them again now! I always remember them as being pretty innocent stories, but I had forgotten how dramatic some of the adventures are (eg the Famous Five stuck in a cave with a man with a gun) and also how ridiculous some scenarios are (though I know it's partly cos they're so out of date now). Famous Five again - in the cave one of the boys went off to get the police and HE was leading the police (who were weilding guns too) back through the cave!! Made me chuckle.

I can sort of tolerate the sexism in them because it was the time Enid Blyton was living in. The classism is appalling though, and racism in a few, and all the stereotypes ! I hate to say I'm sure I was influenced a lot by her books (particularly the school ones) and I MUST have had a very odd view of what the world outside was like!
I must say I am so grateful to my mum for being so vehemently anti-Enid Blyton as i would've grown up completely unaware of the truth of it!

My favourites were the Famous Five, The Faraway Tree books, and The Wishing Chair. I also had a fondness for Malory Towers and St. Clare's - and the Naughtiest Girl in the School which I had completely forgotten about till I saw it in the library!

Charlee Thu 11-Aug-05 15:12:51

I loved Enid Blyton as a kid, i have read all her books, i havent read any now im older but i think there really good, when your a child you dont analise books your reading, i think in the famous five George being so addiment shes as good as the boys kind of says something about sexism, and yes the many of her storys are unrealistic but there fiction books! there for the imagination, i would love ds to read her storys when hes older.

lilibet Thu 11-Aug-05 15:14:05

I really looked forward to reading them to ds, but found that I was having to edit them as I went along, because of poor Anne.

she always did all the cleaning!

bundle Thu 11-Aug-05 15:16:33

she's obviously not a brilliant writer, but they're v entertaining, have just bought dd1 a Faraway Tree one.

Charlee Thu 11-Aug-05 15:17:42

I think she was a brilliant writer in her day why else would so many people buy her books even today?

northerner Thu 11-Aug-05 15:18:10

I loved her books too, still have the whole famous five collection at my parents. Yes, poor Anne, she always had to stay behind and make camp, putting the ginger beer in a cave to keep it cool.

And hands up if you admit to having a little snigger at 'Aunt Fanny' as a child!

Charlee Thu 11-Aug-05 15:19:09

<Charlee raises her hand high! >

Distel Thu 11-Aug-05 15:19:48

I used to love the wishing chair, Malory towers and the naughtiest girl in the school. Actually, most Enid Blyton really.

northerner Thu 11-Aug-05 15:20:31

Did she write the secret seven ?

WigWamBam Thu 11-Aug-05 15:21:57

The JK Rowling of her age - not particularly well-written, not particularly original, but entertaining adventure stories and fantasies that were popular with their target audience because secretly every child wanted to be able to ditch their parents and have adventures.

Even as a child, though, I hated the inherent sexism -the boys do all the exciting stuff, George only gets to do what she does because she behaves like a boy and is always ever so slightly disapproved of, and Anne is the helpless little lady.

bundle Thu 11-Aug-05 15:24:16

charlee, i meant in a literary sense (there's lot of repetition, not much creative use of language etc)

northerner Thu 11-Aug-05 15:27:04

The sexism never crossed my mind as a kid. In fact I wanted to be Anne.

Lizita Thu 11-Aug-05 15:27:15

Charlee, read them again, you'll be shocked.
In the Famous Five book I just read, George was very proud to be told by a boy they met that she was "as good as a boy any day". Anne doing all the cleaning... at the beginning of the book she says "If I don't make the bunks and wash the crockery, they would never be made or washed, I know that!" Just reinforcing the role of woman as long suffering housewife, no point being assertive because that's what she's supposed to do!
And the circus boy they met was unwashed with no manners and oh so grateful to be invited to their caravans and he even says "I haven't got your manners, I know, and I'm a bit dirty, and not your sort at all."

Me and my sis read them at quite an old age really, over ten at least, and yes we did analyse them. I remember arguing with my mum about how you learn a lot about morals from them! ! We were very naive.

WigWamBam Thu 11-Aug-05 15:28:09

I always wanted to be one of the boys, because they did the exciting stuff and Anne was just always there in the background, looking pretty and girlie but not doing very much!

Lizita Thu 11-Aug-05 15:28:34

don't compare her to JK Rowling!!

WigWamBam Thu 11-Aug-05 15:36:01

Why not compare her to J K Rowling? Enid Blyton is probably the only other children's novelist who has done what Rowling has done - make children interested in reading by writing exciting adventure stories in which the children are the heroes. Whether or not you feel the writing styles are similar, there's no doubt that both have had a huge impact on children's literature.

starlover Thu 11-Aug-05 15:38:31

i LOVED LOVED LOVED enid blyton books!
our school banned them! but i read them at home.
i never even noticed the "sexism" or "racism" in them. as you say a lot of it is just a sign of the times they were written in

bundle Thu 11-Aug-05 15:38:46

rowling not that good a writer either imo, but agree with wwb if they get children to read more, they are a Good Thing

Lizita Thu 11-Aug-05 15:39:47

OK, agreed WWB but there is a million times more to Harry Potter than to any of Enid Blyton's stories. Enid Blyton was shallow & repetitive. that's how she managed to churn out so many. JK Rowling's have a lot more depth and adult content. Like I said, no comparison, no point comparing.

harpsichordcarrier Thu 11-Aug-05 15:40:12

I loved Enid Blyton too and read pretty much everything - all the FF, SS, the mystery ones, Malory Towers, St Clares etc etc, between the ages of about seven and ten. It was a million miles away from my own life - escapism really. I think she is a great story writer and it is a bit unfair to judge her on modern standards BUT I would really hesitate before I let my dd read them... the sexism, racism (the dark skinned people were always the baddies, if I remember rightly) and the common people always sniffing and wiping their noses on their sleeves because they didn't have a handkerchief... and everyone always getting spanked aswell...
however, none of this prevented me from becoming a card carrying lefty pinko feminist Guardian reader, so maybe we should trust our children to make their own minds up??
why not to be compared with JKR btw? I think there are many similarities actually.

WigWamBam Thu 11-Aug-05 15:41:30

I don't happen to agree, Lizita, but this is not the thread for that.

starlover Thu 11-Aug-05 15:41:48

i don't think the dark skinned people were always the baddies
there were always good gypsies in it who helped the famous 5 and stuff

starlover Thu 11-Aug-05 15:42:30

and fwiw i think harry potter is a pile of w&%k but as WWB says... not the thread for that!

TwinSetAndPearls Thu 11-Aug-05 15:43:10

I loved Enid Blyton as a child, I think I must have read everything she has written.

I have thought about buying some to read to dd , have read the newer versions in Smiths but they do sound a bit twee when you read them now.

starlover Thu 11-Aug-05 15:43:40

but don't you think our parents probably thought they were twee too?
that's what kids like!

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