Why read a book about a children's author whose only adult novel was rejected by publishers?
Others who have written children's books have also writteWhy read a book about a children's author whose only adult novel was rejected by publishers?
Others who have written children's books have also written for adults, or their children's books also appeal to adults. But Enid Blyton's books only really appeal to children. Adults might read them as part of a research project to analyse their appeal, or to criticise their shortcomings. It is very rare for adults to read them purely for enjoyment.
I read some of Enid Blyton's books as a child, and enjoyed them. I suppose, as this book points out, that they gave me a taste for reading. But as an adult one quickly becomes aware of their limitations.
book[The Enid Blyton Story[ is in part a biography of Enid Blyton, but it is rather annoying in that rerspect, as [author:Bob Mullan] tries to psychoanalyse her as he goes along, speculating about motives, conscious and unconscious, for her behaviour at various points.
It also gives an account of her works, with copious illustrations of the covers and internal illustrations of her books. There is little comment on these, but that might have been more interesting than the attempts to analyse Enid Blyton's guilt feelings about members of her family. The styles of clothing worn by the children in the illustrations changes over the years, but there are no comments on this.
There are plenty of criticisms of her works as well, which are included in the book, but, as Bob Mullan points out, Enid Blyton did not write for critics, she wrote for children.
I was also quite surprised by the wide range of books she wrote. I never read any of her school stories, and was hardly aware of them. I'd seen some of the titles, and no doubt had seen Enid Blyton's name on the cover of some of them in bookshops, but it had never really sunk in that she was the author. I never read the Noddy books either, and the "Famous Five" didn't appeal to me.
The first Enid Blyton book I read was The Secret of Kilimooin, which I borrowed from an older friend, and the first one I owned was The Mountain of Adventure. I went on to read several other books in those series, but none of them seemed as good as the first two. Perhaps, as the critics say, it is because Enid Blyton is limited in her range of plots. She does write to a formula, and in reviewing The Shack the most apposite description I could think of for its beginning was that it was Enid Blytonish.
So what makes a book "Enid Blytonish"? Perhaps it's the kind of irrelevant detail of preparations for going on holiday, and the descriptions of food, which neither move the plot forward nor set the scene. Perhaps nowadays it would be called food porn. So if the plots are a bit thin and the dialogue is stilted, what is it about Enid Blyton's books that appeals to children?
And I think Mullan concludes that the main appeal is story telling. Children aren't great literary critics. It doesn't matter so much how well or how badly the story is told, as long as it is told. It is adults who get hung up on style and vocabulary. I doubt whether any child, ever, spoke like Enid Blyton's characters, but children tend to overlook that, unless, perhaps, very dated or outlandish slang is used.
And I think one can even learn something from Enid Blyton's books. In The Mountain of Adventure she undoubtedly caricatures Welsh people, but from it I learned that there were Welsh people, and that there was a force of gravity that kept us on the earth. In The Secret of Kilimooin I learned that there were people of very different cultures in the world, and some of the difficulties of communication between them. So even Enid Blyton can widen children's horizons....more
This one, his first published novel, is not his best. It starts off well enough, but towards the end there are too many long monologues explaining ConThis one, his first published novel, is not his best. It starts off well enough, but towards the end there are too many long monologues explaining Considine's philosophy. ...more
An above-average whodunit, which also gives a lot of information about stories that are in the news these days -- about refugees, asylum seekers, andAn above-average whodunit, which also gives a lot of information about stories that are in the news these days -- about refugees, asylum seekers, and the people who prey on them. ...more
I've read Prince Caspian at least 5 times, and when I found this book in the Alkantrant library I wasn't expecting much. Prince Caspian is a fairly stI've read Prince Caspian at least 5 times, and when I found this book in the Alkantrant library I wasn't expecting much. Prince Caspian is a fairly straightforward children's story based on a theme common to many fairy tales -- an evil usurping king who suppresses the true heir to the throne, is eventually deposed and the rightful ruler is restored. How much can you say about that that isn't said in the story itself?
But Devin Brown has quite a lot to say about it, and a lot of what he says is quite illuminating. It makes me want to read his earlier book, about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, if I can find a copy anywhere. At the time I first read it, in September 1965, I was struck by the parallels between the White Witch's rule in Narnia, and the Vorster regime in South Africa (though Verwoerd was Prime Minister, Vorster was Minister of Justice, and was turning South Africa into a police state). The raid of Maugrim the wolf, head of the Witch's secret police, on the home of Tumnus the faun had many parallels with the Security Police raids of those days, and the statues in the witch's castle represented for us the banning and detention without trial of opponents of the National Party regime.
Those themes, while not absent from Prince Caspian, do not appear quite so strongly. What had always struck me most strongly about Prince Caspian was Lewis's attitude towards pagan myths and deities. In Prince Caspian they are not the enemy, but are part of the army of liberation.
What Devin Brown brings out most strongly, however, is Lewis's anti-racism, and the parallels between the policies of the usurper Miraz and the apartheid ideology. Miraz's policy is based on Telmarine supremacy, with all others being banished to the woods (read "homelands").
Brown draws parallels between the anti-colonialism of Prince Caspian and that of the Oyarsa of Malacandra's comments to Weston in Out of the Silent Planet. He also notes many other literary allusions, to Shakespeare, Tolkien, and other authors, .
The themes that Brown brings out most strongly are Lewis's emphasis on diversity and environmentalism before they became popular causes....more
Frank Clark, an Australian soldier, wounded in the First World War, marries Ada, an English orphan, and takes her back to Australia with him. They tryFrank Clark, an Australian soldier, wounded in the First World War, marries Ada, an English orphan, and takes her back to Australia with him. They try farming in south-western Australia, but life is hard, and their two daughters grow up, one helping on the farm, and the other working as a maid in a nearby hotel. A visit from an English cousin and his friend leaves the younger daughter, Edith, pregnant, and she sets out to find the father of her child in Armenia, just before the Second World War breaks out.
It is a book about travel, about friendship and loss, and about the way in which peoples lives connect for a while, and are then parted and they never see each other again, or sometimes met again in unexpected ways. In that way it seems similar to real life, where the twists and turns of the story are not driven by plot, but often by chance, or spur-of-the-moment decisions. G.K. Chesterton once wrote that truth is always stranger than fiction, because fiction is a product of the human mind and therefore congenial to it. And so this story has a ring of truth, and seems close to real life.
Yet it also has a dream-like quality. I don't know about other people but many of my dreams involve preparing and planning for things that never seem to happen, because something else intervenes and turns things aside at the last minute.
It is this combination of realism and dream that made the book interesting to me, wanting to see what happens in the end, because one never knows what to expect....more
I found it on our bookshelves, and couldn't remember if I'd read it, so picked it up and realised that I had, but had forgotten most of the plot, so iI found it on our bookshelves, and couldn't remember if I'd read it, so picked it up and realised that I had, but had forgotten most of the plot, so it was like reading it afresh. The blurb and the beginning show more promise than the book actually delivers, and it ends in a rather humdrum "shoot-em-up" manner. ...more
I'm not sure that I'm going to finish this book. I suppose it is the same genre as The Poisonwood Bible -- do-gooding American in Africa encounters peI'm not sure that I'm going to finish this book. I suppose it is the same genre as The Poisonwood Bible -- do-gooding American in Africa encounters people of different cultures and is not sure how to relate to them. It lacks the depth of The Poisonwood Bible however.
I couldn't be bothered to finish it, took it back to the library half-read. ...more
Seventeen stories, mostly of the horror genre, though most not sufficiently memorable or horrific to give one nightmares. Some are rather dreamlike inSeventeen stories, mostly of the horror genre, though most not sufficiently memorable or horrific to give one nightmares. Some are rather dreamlike in their unreality switching from scene to scene as dreams sometimes do. Good bedtime reading, since they won't give you nightmares. I fell asleep three times on the last page of the last story, and each time woke up and realised I didn't know how it ended, and started reading the last couple of paragraphs again....more