Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Unbeatable Enid Blyton

I don't know about you, but I need massive contrast in my life. This blog pretty much reflects that, I think. Like in life, in which I need to follow one activity with one that is the opposite or not too similar to the one that preceded it, I try to do the same with this blog.

Although I know (from lack of response) that these Enid Blyton posts are not terribly popular or relevant to most readers, I keep putting them out there because Blyton had a powerful effect on me as a kid. In particular, her books encouraged my love of nature and exploring. Hers were also the first mysteries I ever read.

I get the sense that she wasn't big with American kids of the 50's, 60's, and 70's. I'm not sure how many Blyton books were published in the US. If anybody knows, please illuminate me.

I don't think she's a brilliant writer, but I do think she had an incredibly rich, expansive, infinite imagination. Her books forged incredible connections with children at a time when entertainment options for the young were extremely limited. There WAS radio, of course.

Blyton is easily the most prolific children's author of all time, and it's unlikely her body of work will ever be eclipsed.

If you have never read her, I can't possibly predict what reading her now, as an adult, would be like. She is so tied to my childhood, extrication from that connection is impossible.

Recommended reads for the uninitiated would be The Magic Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair, Mr. Meddle Muddles (arguably a precursor to Mr. Bean), Five Go To Smugger's Top, The Adventure of the Secret Necklace, The Wishing Chair, and Mr. Galiano's Circus.

Once you're done with those, there are approximately 745 more to enjoy.

Blyton is the sixth most translated author in the world, equal to Shakespeare in that respect. She has sold over 400 million books.

It has been announced (but not confirmed) that Helena Bonham Carter will portray Blyton in a new BBC TV movie about her complex, fascinating life.

9 comments:

  1. You may need massive contrast in your life but the uninitiated Enid Blyton fan that finds your posts by way of Google may be in for some serious shock when they see some of your other posts, LOL.

    I used to read the Five books as a kid too. I still have all my books in the basement but haven't read them since I was a kid, and I have no idea of what I'd think of them now.

    Unfortunately, recently I read somewhere that Enid Blyton is ill. A documentary would be very welcome.

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  2. Jack J -- perhaps some serious shock. They should heed the "Adult Content" warning perhaps.

    I hate to break the news to you, but Enid died in 1968.

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  3. Really?! :-O

    How embarrassing. Haha. I swear I read a piece in some newspaper about famous people who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. She was on that list and it was written in the present tense as if these people still suffer from it. Oh, well. Thanks for setting me straight.

    Oh yeah! The "adult contents" warning! :/ I usually never read it but just go: "how annoying". LOL.

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  4. I was reading a lot of Enid Blyton-books when I was a kid, sometimes a couple a day! I'm sure I would have a hard time to read them again, but they formed by interest in mysteries, thrillers and adventure. And I loved them.

    Something else I read was a lot of books about three teenage detektives who where friends of Alfred Hitchcock or something... In Sweden they where called "Tre Deckare..." but I have now idea about english title.

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  5. NJ -- you and me both. I was a voracious reader of Blyton. And there were a lot of books to read, too!

    She also got me into thrillers and mysteries.

    The Alfred Hitchcock books you are referring to were probably 'Alfred Hitchock and the Three Investigators'. I was into those, too.

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  6. You can count me in as well! I wanted to become a private eye because of those books! I honest to God thought Hitchcock was friends with those kids. Did he even know they were being written. :D

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  7. Jack J -- Private Eye was such an exotic job to aspire to in childhood.
    I'm sure Hitch had a manager who lent his name (and profile) to lots of stuff.
    I doubt he read them.
    Then again, maybe he had a secret life as the matriarch of an investigation agency.

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  8. The best things about the Hitchcock-books where the hidden image of Hitchcock on the cover. Sometimes that was better than the whole book :)

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  9. ND -- Agreed! Sometimes I stressed out trying to find that image. If I couldn't find it, would Hitch still let me investigate for him? It never occurred to me that he was too busy making movies to be bothered with snot-nosed kids.

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