Wednesday, 02 June 2010

Enid Blyton: The Biography

This book is exceedingly difficult to find. I have seen references to it all over the place. I have seen an actual copy of it in the UCT Special Collections, though you aren't allowed to take it out (they also have Childhood at Green Hedges, written by her younger daughter, which is also an elusive book). Finally, for a fair amount of money, I found a copy at Quagga in Kalk Bay. The Kalk Bay book/antique shops aren't on my usual rounds because (a) they're annoyingly far away and (b) they're mostly antique shops and so tend to be expensive. At least Kalk Bay has decent shops of this sort, unlike the horrific excuse for a bookshop in Simon's Town.

Anyway, this is a biography of one of my favourite authors, Enid Blyton. I don't like all the stuff she's written (not that I've read it all) and quite agree with some of the criticism she's received (racist, classist, etc), though I'm quite willing to accept that she and her work are products of their time. Much the same way I'm quite willing to accept similar attitudes in Agatha Christie's work or historical fiction. I don't really understand why it should be sanitised simply because it's for children. Perhaps I just think children are smarter than we give them credit for. On the other hand, I still enjoy reading my Blytons, so what do I know? Well, I know how to enjoy myself for an afternoon of light reading ... well, an hour or so at least. I'd need a few Blytons to last a whole afternoon. Also, there are no better books for bathtime reading. This is not because most of my favourites have already been dropped in the bath multiple times. Really.

Enid Blyton did not live a particularly interesting life and from all I can tell was not a particularly nice person if you weren't a child. Or at least adoring. She was, as all I've read about her agrees, extremely childlike. She needed attention and adulation. She did not want any sort of responsibility that was unrelated to her writing. All relationships were conducted on her terms. The family history is interesting and I'm really glad I wasn't born at the end of the 19th century.

I don't think I'd have been friends with her, but she wrote some fantastic books. And that's all I have to say on the matter.

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