[DWJ]Enid Blyton? (was Writing for the young)

Jenny Schwartzberg schwartzbergj at newberry.org
Wed May 16 13:58:40 EDT 2007

Dear Farah et al,

Your comments made me dig out an article in a book I'm reading:
Rudd, David, "Blytons, Noddies, and Denoddification Centers: The 
Changing Constructions of a Cultural Icon," /Change and Renewal in 
Children's Literature/, ed. Thomas van der Walt (Westport, CT: Praeger 
Publishers, 2004), chapter 11, pp. 111-118.

What I remembered was that Rudd wrote about how Blyton wrote in an oral 
style, like an oral storyteller and that he criticized how modern 
rewritten editions take out that oral style and their efforts degrade 
the stories and make them less successful.

Now you say she actually dictated her stories.  Aha!  No wonder they 
read so orally.  Speaking as someone who is training to be a 
storyteller, and who loves books that are great to read aloud, I have to 
wonder why that's so bad.  As an American child, I had a 6-volume set of 
the Famous Five and some other paperback Blytons and one banged-up copy 
of a Noddy comic-format book that I liked for the illustrations.

I may go look in my university library for old Blytons and see what I 
think of her appeal now.  But I don't think prolificacy is to be 
despised as long as the stories are fun to read....

Yes I read Barbara Cartlands along with Georgette Heyer and tons of 
Regency romances when I was a teen.  Barbara Cartland is very 
stereotyped but I have to say that some of her earliest stories weren't 
that bad.  It was the late ones that were so repetitive and boring and 
pretty awful in their assumptions.  Once an author gets locked into a 
series or style of writing it seems like all too often they go formulaic 
and get worse and worse as the series goes along....

There are a lot of authors whose first books remain special to me, but 
whose later books just do not appeal to me.  They lack the spark of the 
first book.  It's very sad.  And then there are authors who just keep 
getting better and better.  I think DWJ is in the latter category though 
some books seem hit or miss.  I bought The Game the moment it came out 
but I'm still wondering why it's so short and it just doesn't strike me 
as that special.  I've been putting off reading The Pinhoe Egg.  I'm not 
sure why, except maybe because it's about Cat who tends to irritate the 
heck out of me.  I never got into Charmed Life because of that.  Yes I 
know he's very much an abused child and his behavior patterns are due to 
that, but what's the name of the later book he's also in?  He doesn't 
seem to have grown up that much.  It's a sign of how much I didn't get 
into that one that I can't remember the title!  And yet I liked The 
Lives of Christopher Chant, Witch Week and other Chrestomanci stories....

But some of my favorite DWJ stories are Eight Days of Luke, The 
Magicians of Caprona, and Hexwood, and the Dalemark books....

Enough of a ramble for now....

Jenny Schwartzberg
Chicago, IL

Farah Mendlesohn wrote:
> Hi Minnow,
> I discovered recently that Blyton dictated a lot of her work. It was
> mentioned on a radio 4 programme.
> Farah
> On 15/05/07, Colin Fine <colin at kindness.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>> Minnow wrote:
>> >
>> > One thing has to be said for Enid Blyton: she had at least been taught
>> the
>> > use of punctuation at some point.  Her stuff doesn't demand a re-write
>> > every couple of sentences, and I don't find that I have got out a red
>> biro
>> > and started absent-mindedly to proof-read it as I go along.  
>> Formulaic,
>> > yes, maybe, but not horribly constructed word-by-word as well as
>> > plot-by-plot.
>> >
>> >
>> When I was around 20 I came upon a copy of what had been my fav'rite
>> Enid Blyton book, that I had read again and again - Mr Galliano's
>> Circus, in fact.
>> I found it pretty well unreadable - specifically because far too many of
>> her sentences ended with exclamation marks.
>> Colin
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