Jeremy Preacher's Reviews > The Secret of the Old Clock

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
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Jun 08, 11

bookshelves: mystery, children-s
I own a copy

I found these reprints of the 1930 versions of the Nancy Drew series, and read them side-by-side with the 1950s versions. What a fascinating exercise!

The standout difference, aside from the really appalling portrayal of the one black person in the early edition, was the addition in the 50s of a number of incidents that seem to be intended to heighten the tension, including an orphan child and her elderly caretakers who desperately need a chunk of the inheritance and a dog attack that consists of angry barking and not much more, and a drastically reduced emphasis on the young, independent although poor sisters who support themselves. Plus the oddly apropos-of-nothing insertion of household chores into Nancy's adventures - they'd probably not really stand out on their own, but when read against the original scenes, they seem like bits of Leave it to Beaver spliced into the frame.

I liked Nancy Drew as a kid and I like her now, but I think I'd recommend the 30s editions to any young girl, as long as someone was there to have a serious conversation about the portrayal of minorities in media. The treatment of black people is appalling but obvious as an anvil to the skull - the inserted 1950s values about the place of women are much more subtle and disturbing.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Emilie (new)

Emilie I love this idea of reading two the Nancy Drew series side by side! I loved them all as a kid and didn't know how to distinguish besides some being paperback and some having those nice yellow hardback bindings..


Katrina Roets I didn't realize they had been revamped in the 50s. I just picked up this book for 25c at Goodwill and it's the original version. I'm going to have to look for the 50s version. Thanks for the heads up!


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