I really enjoyed reading the comments that have poured in, in response to the Enid Blyton post (In the Land of Do-As-You-Please) on Guardian Unlimited‘sCulture Vulture blog.
The post discusses Blyton’s lack of political correctness, asks whether any offensive terms and questionable names in the books should be edited out and changed/updated; and whether Blyton’s work is literature for children or adults.
Readers who have responded range from those who believe that no child should be exposed to the evil that is Blyton to sensible people who, like me (oh, yes, I am very sensible, truly), think that if you censor Blyton, it’s just a matter of time before everything (Shakespeare, Nesbit, Austen, Dickens) has to undergo the same treatment.You can “protect” your child from the racism, sexism and whatnot that’s in a book by Blyton, but you can’t shield him from the real wickedness that’s in the world. At least, if he is exposed to prejudice in a book, it would offer an oppurtunity to discuss it with him.
I’m not sure if children actually notice the sexism, classicm etc. I know I thought it was very unfair that Anne (in the Famous Five) was never allowed to do anything exciting, and I was also very annoyed by how she always volunteered to do the cooking and cleaning.
I think it’s possible that Malaysian children wouldn’t notice the class difference between the Five Find Outers and PC Goon’s nephew Ern (or, indeed, Goon himself). The Five are so condescending towards Ern and the policeman, but it never occurred to me that it was a class thing until I was an adult.
I wonder if it would make more sense to a Hindu child, in India, growing up with the caste system!
Dick: It says here that Julian’s a male chauvinist pig!
Anne: What’s a chauvinist?
Julian: Never you mind, young lady. Now, don’t you have some dishes to do?
George: Can I play with your truncheon, Dick?
Dick: Only if you promise not to chew on it!