Tuesday, 25 March 2008

In The World of Enid Blyton

At age four, I remember a light green hard bound book with dog eared pages and a colourful pciture on the cover, thrust in my hands. I remember Noddy, whose blue cap and red shorts remain etched in my mind even now after twenty years. Noddy and his friends- who fascinated me. I was in another world as words and pictures weaved magic.

I was then introduced to the Magic Faraway Tree – Jo, Bessie, Fanny and their magical friends Moon face, Silky and Saucepan man. A world where children had amazing adventures in the woods where an old enchanted tree stood and spoke an English which was so different from mine. Who would say words like smashing, golly and gosh.

I read about boarding school travails in the Malory Towers series and saw Darryl Rivers grow into a young woman. I drew parallels of my classmates with Gwendoline, Alicia and the rest of the gang. I heard about fascinating sports like lacrosse and mid night feasts of cakes. Even now, Darryl reminds me of my elder sister – short tempered, intelligent and caring. I always identified with her younger sister Felicity.

Then came the Five Find Outers - Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets and Famous Five George, Dick, Julian, Anne and Timmy, followed by Secret Seven. Their mysteries in small English villages, where they travelled on cycles, ate hot scones and jacket potato and drank tea with cream and ginger ale. They found thieves in caravans, lived in cottages, went to fairs, encountered gypsies, and went for camping trips and found adventures in caves, highlands and moors. A world so removed from mine.

Enid Blyton’s books have been such an important part of my early years, memories of hot summer days, my nose buried in reading, visualizing their adventures, living them through those words. I absolutely devoured all the Blyton books I could lay hands on – school library and the local library near home unaware that in Britain these books were in a midst of debate – depicting middle class England and being politically incorrect.

And now Disney has recycled the ‘Famous Five’ and put the characters in a new setting with multi ethnic identities. The characters are now not in idyllic England instead they are in sunny California, they eat pizza, guzzle coke and use laptops and mobile phones. The Enid Blyton loyalists and ardent fans like me will scream blue murder. My favourite books and characters are been given a face lift I don’t want. I wish instead of repackaging the classic and giving a generation leap (à la saas-bahu serials!) they could have started a new series.

I came across some interesting view points in British and Scottish media. The opinion column of Scotsman says-
“In an act of sheer literary vandalism, Disney – who else? – has stripped the very heart out of Enid Blyton's adventures and characters and in their place offered up a pale imitation of Scooby-Doo.”

While Times opinion column says-
“What are we doing to these well-loved characters?... Our longest waiting lists were for the Famous Five books.” Funnily enough, it goes on to add an ‘immigrant’ angle. While the regular news story is more ‘politically correct’.

While everyone has been harping about adding an Anglo-Indian character in the new series no one has analyzed why such a character has been introduced. I believe it shows the cultural influence of India and growth of its soft powers. I also think Chorion and Disney are trying to appeal to a wider audience – a large chunk of which may be South Asian or Indian.

Here’s hoping Jyoti and her gang don’t stray too far from the original! I wouldn’t want Enid Blyton turning in her grave.

22 comments:

Curious said...

I don't quite remember what I read when i was young.. But my mom tells me I used to be a huge tin tin fan...

I kinda lost the reading touch for awhile and then Nancy Drew's hardy boys and Enid Blyton's, famous five and secret seven's reinvoked the passion again! :)

I also remember the fights with my older brothers for Tinkle & Gokulam magazines...

I wish I could remember what I liked reading back then....! :(

But to think of this Book rehashing stuff... If I could go way back then I would surely say "Thanks! No thanks"...

I don't really see the need to Indian-ise everything when India itself wants to reach out to more globalisation...I'm sure the younger gen will learn to love Enid Blyton and rest in it's very original form!

Giving it a Indian form and feel with Indian name only would make me more uncomfortable.

Moreover there have been stories and books which is original and have been hugely popular with the Indian audience - I am thinking where exactly have the publishers felt the need to launch something like this!

Prasad said...

aaahhhhhhhh man this sure turned a lot of stone inside me to fins out the times whn i used to read the famouse five secreat 7 nd all.....i also remember there used to be a TV series on this one too....tho i dont remember which TV channel played it!!!

curious...gokulam,tinkle...tintin nd astrix are some of my all time favs....one day whn i can afford it i will get the full series of both tintin nd astrix :DDD

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Curious
I used to love reading Tinkle, Target, Champak, Chacha Chowdhary and Pinki and to some extent Tintin but somehow I was never an Astrix fan… I never heard of Gokulum.. was it in Tamil?
After my Enid Blyton years I graduated onto Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys and Agatha Chritsie… They seemed so exciting at that time!!

I agree with you…Its really sad… rehashing the old stories… though Disney’s version will be animated but lets see how well it is received…
Blyton books in original form still have the same magical feel.. I don’t want that getting lost :|

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Pras,

You were a famous five and secret seven fan too?? :D I also vaguely remember a TV series but I don’t think it was that popular…

As I said to Curious… I haven’t heard of Gokulam… But I used to love reading Tinkle.. do you remember shambu the shikari? :D

And tintin... I used to read occasionally though I never got around to reading astrix that much…

Curious said...

Zephy: Oh i used to hate astrix as well! I think those cartoons are very unappealing to the smaller audience...

As an artist I would love to do some rehashing on them...! :P

Gokulam - might have been regional or atleast South Indian based... It was another tinkle in a different format!

Pras: I got hooked to Calvin Hobbes sometime in high school - now I have the entire box set collection with me! Chk out E-bay for those collections it's much lower priced then lotsa big book stores!

Prasad said...

hahahahahahahaaha yea shakri shambu and my most fav was suppandi...nd also there was one with a crow as a main character i think...tho i forgot the name.....

gokulam whn i read was both printed in tamil nd english...guess tht was tamilnadu based thingy....i also moved on to the hardy boys after tht...never got readin the nancy drew stuff!!! obvious i guess ;)

curious.....calvin nd hobes is one of my current fav's....strip comes everyday in hindu metroplus so i follow tht every morning....also i want to buy the full set itz on sale in many book stores....the full edition..collectors edition cost arrnd 10 to 15K i guess....but now um ju happy followin it on the paper!

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Curious

I think you hit the nail on the head.. I was probably terrified of axtrix and oblelix.. maybe you could rehas them and make them cuter :D

I don’t think we had Gokulam in North India…

I read the Times of India cartoon strip everyday for Garfield and Dennis the Menace… :)

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Pras

I was forgetting Suppandi’s name… thanks for reminding me :) I don’t remember the crow’s name too!!

As Curious also said… I think Gokulam was famous down south.. We used to have Champak and I loved reading it… it was a different version of Tinkle….

Do you know the writer for Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys was same… that person used to write under a ghost name for both… do you remember there were a few series where the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew came together to solve some mysteries??

Prasad said...

yea i do remember some books havin tht!! but was never a fan of nancy drew!!! i think therez some movie too for nancy drew which relesed recently!!!

i dont understand watz to be treffied abt astrix nd obleix!!! they are gauls for the lov of god!!! they cant be cuter!!!aaaggghhhhhhh!!! :P :DDDD

nd TOI is jus makin itz entry into chennai!!! the Hindu is more famouse here!!

nd i never got to readin the archie stuff!!! i found it rather boring

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Pras

Nancy Drew was too girlie for you?? :P I think last year a movie released with Julia Roberts’ niece playing the role of Nancy Drew…

To me… astrix didn’t look cute… gauls or not :P :P you know it’s a girl thing… Curious would understand :P :D :D

As for TOI.. its been hiring people for its Chennai edition like crazy!! Its going to give some competition to The Hindu…

I still love Archie comics even now!! My Dad keeps buying and we end up fighting who is going to read it first… in fact I wanted to buy a collectors series for my Dad!

Prasad said...

yup nancy drew is way to girlie stuff!!! nd i dont understand abt the 'girls' thing!!! bbbaaaaaaa!!!!

nd yea even with all the offers by givin toi for less than a rupee a day for the first day nd stuff lik tht it will always be the second paper tht ppl mite buy...i was seriously amazed by toi's popularity in the north...never heard of it down here :P :DDDD nd then there are lotsa tamil papers....i think it will be a bit difficult to toi to dislodge hindu as the main paper....we are pretty loyal :P

Curious said...

Pras: Gouls or not... the most important rule of getting attached to a character is appearance... I think tht astrix's nose was too big for my liking..and those awful clothes thy wore...euuuuuu... So surely a rehash...

What is about boys and tagging - I used to read hardy boys too... Jus as nancy drew.. and I was into tagging or anything.. Besides how much girly stuff can you get into mystery fiction???

Have you guys read animorphus - seems lotsa children find that a much interesting read then hardy boys and nancy drew's.. maybe one of these days I'll pick one up!

And yea i used to love suppandi too! the Crow was called Kalia i guess... Tantri the mantri was a good one too!

Somewhere after tinkle i think late teen years i switched loyalty towards Archie's... I used to be obsessed about betty ... and used to love jughead's doggie!


Oh man those good ol days of loafing around!!! How I miss summer vacations!!! :(

Prasad said...

watttttttttttt!!!!!! they r gauls and they are supposed to look lik tht in tht clothes!!! if u change their appearance ur takin out the primary stuff tht makes up the comic!!!! jeez man i really dont understand this!!!! nd dont u ever think i'll let u change them even if u get a chance...i'll stop u!!!

guess u could say i was in tht mode of thinkin where i thought girls solving mystries was jus too much non-reality for me those years!!!

animorphus-----this is the first time i see tht word!!! nd i dont even kno how to pronounce tht!!!!

but thn um hooked on to the potter series...got all the books nd i dont mind readin them again nd again!!! too sad the series is over with jus 7!!

Curious said...

Well now since u've put an idea in my head.. I am actually gonna seriously do some re-wardrobing for Astrix and oblix and yadda yadda yadda.. I take this a challenge with Zephy as the witness...

"HUH" "girls solving mystries was jus too much non-reality for me those years!!!" - now now were ya a MCP way back then?? :P :P

Potter yea.. I loved the last book.. Was horrible to see it on screen though!!! In a way thank goodness it's ended else we'd had had a mega serial shoved up on us!!!

n aka zephyr said...

Pras
There was nothing girlie abt nancy drew… she could kick ass as much as the hardy boys :P

TOI is famous for its aggressive marketing… it mite not dislodge Hindu from the first position but it will eat up some market share of other papers as well as Hindu…

An I would love to see Curious’s version of astrix.. would be fun… c’mon be a sport….

n aka zephyr said...

Hey Curious,

Bring it on sistah.. make the gauls cuter :D :D *smiles with a conspiracy expression on face while imagining Pras tearing his hair out*

And I dunno why anyone wud think nancy drew was girlie… she was as good as the hardy boys when it came to solving mysteries…

I found another Archie comics fan in you :) I love Betty too… And poor Archie… getting stuck between Veronica and Betty… :D

Do you remember the science section in tinkle.. where they showed simple experiments? They seemed so interesting… God I am so geeky for remembering that…. :D

Never heard of animorphus though…

Somehow I never became a potter fan… so I don’t understand the potter mania… :P

Prasad said...

OMG!!! cuter gauls!!! wat next a intelligent suppandi!!!! aaagggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

yea u could use the mcp if u wanted to put a term to it!!! but u kno the school days where girls were evil for the eyes of boys!!! *sigh* i do feel for it now!!! all the school gals tht i missed!!!

LOL @ the geeky stuff!!! guess i never went thru tht secion :P :DDD remember the hodja character.....

boho :) said...

hi zeph ...so you are here now...great

enid blyton was our staple, wasn't it

a few years ago i discovered Dr Seuss with my kids and i love it (there looking forward to the Horton movie)

also fortunately there was always a very sumptutious platter for us on the kid's bong literature

so i read more than i actually do now...ah those lovely days!!

Kabhi Sweet Kabhi Sour said...

me boho :) again...thought i link my blogspot fledgling here

n.aka.zephyr said...

pras
cuter gauls...intelligent suppandi...why not? :P :P :D

poor you.. missing all the school girls... i think you can make up for it now ;)

nope... i don't remember hodja.. :|

n.aka.zephyr said...

hey boho
welcome here :)
i've have beem here since the last few months...

Enid blyton was like.. totally.. our staple!!

I have heard of Dr Seuss.. but havn't got a chance to read.. maybe when i have kids...... :D

I didnt have any regional lit except for hindi.. but i read a few good hindi books and magazines..

will check out your space on blogspot.. do keep dropping in here :)

cheers!!

Tarun Durga said...

I remember Bimbo and Topsy. Enid B's series on a kitten and pup. Yeah and a whole racism controversy surrounding the evil Gollywogs :)

Retrospecting on old memories... I remember my collection of Hardy Boys. I always thought they were cooler than the Famous 5. Till recently I saw a South Park episode spoofing them... I've changed my mind.