Sunday, 25 July 2010
Infamous Five: it's all very strange
Here is the link to the Guardian's coverage and Zoe Williams' comment:
My question is: why bother?
There are so many better writers for children who have been at work in the last sixty years that to faff about changing "fellow" to "old man" and "it's all very peculiar" to "it's all very strange" seems like a perverse rearranging of the literary deck chairs on a recession- hit publishing Titanic heading towards a very big iceberg with "e-books" written on it.
As a child I read everything by Enid Blyton that I could get hold of; in fact I probably learned to read IN ORDER to read her. (After the age of seven I had the added incentive that my appendix had been taken out by her husband and he had given me her autograph).
Ah, that autograph! (see above). Probably one of the first, along with Captain W.E.Johns) examples in publishing of brand recognition. And she is still one of the top ten children's writers being borrowed from libraries - at least partly on the strength of it.
But what did she mean to me once I had left childhood behind? I felt no guilty affection as I did for J.R.R.Tolkien or happy nostalgia as I did for Gwyneth Rae (author of my favourite Mary Plain books about the little bear from Bern). Nothing but boredom and embarrassment.
I don't want to ban her and of course it's wonderful that lots of children (including me) have in the past been turned on to reading by her books. But I think it's time quietly to let Enid Blyton die a natural death. No amount of tinkering will make her read like a writer writing today and she just isn't that good.
Let them read Holes, I say, and the wealth of other excellent writers that awaits them. As for Enid, it's time the Famous Five Went on a Very Long Holiday.