A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 
 

 The things we learnt from children's literature ...

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
Go to page : Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next
AuthorMessage
ferval
Censura


Posts : 2575
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 18 Sep 2013, 17:07

Oooh, I had one of those (but probably an earlier edition) - might it have been a particularly Glaswegian thing? Unlike you, I'm afraid I can remember absolutely nothing that I gleaned from it but no doubt it supplied some of the many snippets of information that I took great pleasure in acquiring and then parading at school at every opportunity - insufferable little so and so that I must have been.
Back to top Go down
Priscilla
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1892
Join date : 2012-01-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 18 Sep 2013, 18:04

  I recall friends with one and saying it must be done by magnets. Then we set about corrupting it so it gave the wrong answers when others had a go...... I was the sort of child who never got a chemistry set that blew up the room and hence very disappointed it was soon discarded. Children's literature gave me 'William; who was a sort of brother to me at the time because I was involved in many similar capers. The difference being that my family never knew - and when other parents brought things to their attention mine  either didn't believe it or couldn't stop laughing about the escapade. I also   learned that it was best never to quite grow up; a wartime childhood had taught me the meaning of what was serious and what was not.
Back to top Go down
Catigern
I Cura Christianos Objicere Bestiis
avatar

Posts : 143
Join date : 2012-01-29

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 20 Sep 2013, 15:45

No account of Anglo-Scottish conflict Fighting  in comics study should omit 'The Jocks and the Geordies', who came out on top on alternate weeks in the 'Dandy'. This is obviously fantasy - if it were based on History then there would have to be half a dozen Geordie victories for every Jockinese one (Scotch folk say 'Remember Bannockburn!' :Fight:fairly regularly, but no Englishman has yet completed the response 'Remember The Standard, and Falkirk, and Hallidon Hill, and Homildon, and Flodden... etc., etc.).

Never heard of 'Red MacGregor' - what were the 'sides' imagined (Scotch and English, Whig and Jacobite, Gaelic- and English-speaking, trouser-wearers and trannies, or what)?
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 20 Sep 2013, 17:28

Red's principal enemies were people who'd done the McGregors wrong and other assorted Scottish traitors, so he was always kept pretty busy. In idle moments he'd have a go at the redcoats, but this was obviously in collusion with the Hanoverian as the bulk of those sent up to take him on were obviously cross-eyed and had never wielded a sword before. None of them thought simply to shoot him as he approached with his claymore - ala Indiana Jones style. I suspect this was all a big plot by the bastards in London. The longer Red was on the go the stupider those skirt-wearing northerners could be shown to be.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 775
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 21 Sep 2013, 11:19

I still have a copy of a dinosaur book - well prehistoric animals - but unlike Triceratops's book mine is in the place where many of my things get filed "the safe place so safe I can't find it".  Mind you I've just been having a late breakfast [slept badly last night] watching the last knockings of a repeat programme about the London Natural History Museum and they were saying that they think Tyrannosaurus Rex may have looked out for carrion to eat [because a certain part of its brain was well developed] rather than being a ruthless killer (and hasn't Brontosaurus's name been changed?), so I may have to rethink some things I learned in childhood.  Somebody alluded to Enid Blyton above.  I must admit she played a part in making me literate.  I had no interest in Dick and Dora in "Happy Venture", the series of books they had in many schools then to teach reading.  My Mum read me the start of an Enid Blyton book (famous five) and then said "You'll have to finish it yourself" and low and behold I made progress in reading and never really looked back.  Later I liked Rosemary Sutcliffe for painless chunks of history (oddly enough the one book of hers that I did not like was "Sword at Sunset" about the Arthurian Legend which I read when I was older - I think because the version she wrote was different to the first version I read [Puffin's "King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table" by Roger Lancelyn-Green]).  I also recall a series of magazines called "Look and Learn" which I read when I was about 11 or 12 which contained information about history and other subjects; it was from an article in that magazine I discovered that the Hollywood version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" was very different to Victor Hugo's "Notre Dame de Paris" - no happy ending in the original novel.
Back to top Go down
Catigern
I Cura Christianos Objicere Bestiis
avatar

Posts : 143
Join date : 2012-01-29

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 28 Sep 2013, 19:28

Any fan of Rosemary Sutcliff should also check out Ronald Welch (for youngsters' stuff) and Gillian Bradshaw study.
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 775
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 30 Sep 2013, 20:33

I did "slum it" sometimes.  I will admit to a soft spot for those heroines of kiddies' comics, "Minnie the Minx" and "Beryl the Peril" but I did like some of the heroes too - "Dennis the Menace and Gnasher" to mention but two, if a dog can be a hero.  Well being so good I had to vicariously experience bad girls having more fun!  I went through a phase in my early teens of reading "Superman" and "Batman" type magazines too (I had a friend who had spent some time in Canada who introduced me to such fare).
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 30 Sep 2013, 20:42

It's interesting to analyse what one might have learnt from Minnie the Minx and Beryl the Peril. Unlike Pansy Potter The Strongman's Daughter or Minnie Ha-Ha they had few redeeming characteristics, both being essentially rebellious and with little altruistic tendencies. And unlike Keyhole Kate whose antisocial habit of peering through keyholes inevitably led to her come-uppance the other two often came out the better party in the end. While boys had always had a "rascal" anti-hero to cheer on the female equivalents were thin on the ground before the 1960s. As a young female reading the exploits of Minnie and Beryl, modelled so exactly on Dennis et al, the subliminal message must have been that girls behaving badly was at least representative of a truth, if not exactly encouragement to behave so. It also smacked very much of inter-sexual equality, portrayed in a manner that hero/heroine emulations could not have achieved with such directness.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Catigern
I Cura Christianos Objicere Bestiis
avatar

Posts : 143
Join date : 2012-01-29

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 30 Sep 2013, 22:17

Older heroines for youngsters certainly seem to have been ultimately dutiful and submissive, however fiesty Fighting they may have been towards 'bad guys' (we might add Catriona More Drummond, since RLS wrote 'Catriona' for the youths that had enjoyed 'Kidnapped'). But so were most heroines invented for adults (though perhaps Becky Sharp run rocked the boat somewhat)...

I read a report recently of plans to introduce a female accomplice to Dennis and Gnasher, who was to be a mixed-race girl called 'Angel Face'. I don't know what the standard issue feminist reaction was, but the race relations pundits complained that it would be a Bad Thing if a non-white character was depicted misbehaving... Suspect
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 775
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 02 Oct 2013, 10:07

If I recall Amelia Sedley was the "official" heroine of "Vanity Fair" but of course everybody knew that role was really fulfilled by Becky. In relation to what Catigern has said about a possible mix-race companion for Dennis and Gnasher; that is not so bad as there are more mixed-race children it seems than in my childhood.  I have an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude to stories that already work well; I recently saw a dramatisation of an Agatha Christie "Miss Marple" story where the identities of the murderers had been changed from the original to be two gay women rather than a man and woman couple.  (I'm not anti-gay - I am anti-change to try and alter what is in any case a period piece to be more "modern").  I ranted recently on the "myth" thread about how I dislike writers trying to be clever when they change tales so I'd better not get on my soap-box ...............  As regards anti-heroines of times gone by, I suppose - though I can't remember a thing about them - "My Naughty Little Sister" and "The Naughtiest Girl in the School" perhaps deserve an honourable mention. When I was in the top class at primary school  we had to write an essay as though we were living in "days of old when knights were bold" - I wrote about throwing custard pies at the knight who had come to rescue me to make him go away.  My teacher (male) wrote "Well done fair lady".
Back to top Go down
Priscilla
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1892
Join date : 2012-01-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 02 Oct 2013, 10:58

Undedicated annuals and collections were more common and an interesting introduction to some stuff one would not necessarily choose to read. Given a wet day and a slight fever and nothing else handy forced one into delving  into them. Thus it was that as a totally unsuitable tale for the very young among the comic strips I first came across the graphic tale of the loyal dog Beth Gerlent. I recall thinking about it many times and the lesson learned about being too quick to judge etc. Not that I was a child drawn to cautionary tales, I had a cussid antipathy towards most of the virtuous heroes of Aesop's fables; I really hated that smug tortoise.  For all of that, I must admit that I think I was affectd by what I read as a child.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 02 Oct 2013, 11:28

The Naughtiest Girl ended up as a Monitor, though, LiR.

We all give in in the end.

Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 775
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 02 Oct 2013, 11:50

Priscilla, did Disney "nick" the story of Gelert (sp???) for one of the sub-plots of "Lady and the Tramp"? Where the Siamese kitties wreak havoc and Lady gets blamed and sent to the pound (she doesn't get "the chop" like poor old Gelert).  Fortunately Tramp speeds to the rescue - not on a dashing white charger though.  

Temperance, so it was a case of "poacher turned gamekeeper" for the "naughtiest girl"?  I suppose there could be an argument made that having been a naughty girl in her time she knew how the new generation of miscreants might think and function.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 08 Nov 2013, 12:39

Andy Warhol learnt something from children's books - as an illustrator!

In the 1950s, before his soup cans, Velvet Undergrounds and Monroes, Warhol worked making illustrations for various children's books published in the US. Here are some samples of his handiwork;









Ok - the last one didn't come from a kids' book. I admit it.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Priscilla
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1892
Join date : 2012-01-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 11 Nov 2013, 12:48

Well, thanks for the interesting info re AW but the books about games brought back memories of actually reading such stuff as a child and using the ideas - and having a lot of fun and fights doing so. I imagine this is not done now as children's parties seem very expensive and heavily organised - and competitive. I am so grateful for being a partially neglected wartime child who along with friends had a whale of an adult free  childhood in wide ranging escapades - some of which derived from the books and comics we read - including Sunny Stories - which my mother refused to  buy so had to be borrowed.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 11 Nov 2013, 14:01

Your mother might have had a point, P ...



Though to be fair to the author (who I don't think actually was Enid Blyton) the whole point of the story was the golliwog overcoming others' insensitivity and rudeness based on his appearance.

I never have read Sunny Stories, but I do actually remember this same story from an "Enid Blyton's Holiday Book" annual that came into the house via a jumble sale. The annual contained another cautionary tale entitled "She Wouldn't Believe It" which advised against undue cynicism and stressed the need for children to believe everything adults within their immediate family and at school told them. The story, and especially the lead character's collapse into odious obsequiousness at the end, probably played a major role in shaping the hoary old cynic I was to become.

What we learnt from children's literature indeed!
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 11 Nov 2013, 15:11

@nordmann wrote:


I never have read Sunny Stories, but I do actually remember this same story from an "Enid Blyton's Holiday Book" annual that came into the house via a jumble sale. The annual contained another cautionary tale entitled "She Wouldn't Believe It" which advised against undue cynicism and stressed the need for children to believe everything adults within their immediate family and at school tell them. The story, and especially the lead character's collapse into odious obsequiousness at the end, probably played a major role in shaping the hoary old cynic I was to become.

What we learnt from children's literature indeed!

I would dispute this interpretation. "She Wouldn't Believe It" was a cautionary tale against pride. It was a story about a stuck-up doll called Florrie who insisted on all the other toys in the nursery calling her "Madam". Florrie, however, started leaking her sawdust all over the nursery floor and she had to undergo the humiliating experience of being sent away to the toyshop to be re-stuffed. The toys at the toy repair shop gave Florrie a really hard time, laughing at her for being so so old-fashioned and taunting her by referring to her as "Madam Sawdust". God, toys can be cruel! Florrie was actually given a new body by the toy-man and she was very glad to return home:

" I'm so glad to see you all," said Florrie. " I'm sorry I was silly and stuck-up before. I'm half new and half old now, so I feel quite different. I'd like to join in your games and be friends."


The teddy-bear was a nasty piece of work. Obviously thought it was funny when Florrie's innards were spilt all over the nursery floor.

Never trust teddy-bears was the intended lesson perhaps.



http://www.childrensnursery.org.uk/enid-blyton/enid-blyton-holiday%20-%200112.htm
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 11 Nov 2013, 15:22

You are correct, I am guilty of conflation in my old age. I will now have to pester my sister and find out the name of that which steered me from the artificial light!
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 775
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 12 Nov 2013, 13:14

I used to ready "Sunny Stories" - my Mum was more "into" buying me magazines with reading matter than comics [though I did get to see them on during wet playtime days at school and have already said I liked Miinnie the Minx and Dennis the Menace] though I can't recall any individual stories after this length of time.  When I was just pre-teens and in my early teens I "dumbed down" and read "Bunty" and "Judy" though I did outgrow them.  I don't know if my weakness for detective stories was inspired by borrowing "Mr Twink" books from the library.  Mr Twink was a clever black cat who solved mysteries - seems to have virtually vanished from the planet though I did find this link http://homepage.ntlworld.com/alienor/MrTwink.htm  Is getting a liking for something "learning" as such?  I DID read books other than Mr Twink - some with more gravitas.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 12 Nov 2013, 14:40

One point of the thread when I started it was to examine how, as children, we may have learnt far more than we realised from reading just such apparently innocuous material. Enid Blyton is a perfect example of how this happened given that mere mention of her name is almost guaranteed to send certain people these days into paroxysmal seizure. No one could ever accuse Ms Blyton of "gravitas". However her political and social outlook, the cause of much PC concern, ran deep in the sub-text and as a reader even at the time one was constantly being forced to selectively ignore, reject or simply absorb temporarily certain implicit assertions that just did not apply in one's own case (especially if one was of rather impoverished working class socialist stock in another country entirely, as I was). However the point was to derive entertainment from her work, just as it was with Richmal Crompton, Anthony Buckeridge, W.E. Johns et al.

Yet how much of the subliminal "message" still got through is very hard to know - especially when one takes into account the sheer volume of her and similar output one got through in one's tender years.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 12 Nov 2013, 15:57

Enid Blyton was OK, and the PC mob can go hang themselves.

She saved a lot of children from despair, although not, apparently, her own daughters. Another of life's little ironies.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 10:10

One of the things rarely noted about Enid Blyton's "sub-texts" is the subversive tendencies displayed by many of her children. They are always contemptuous of adult authority seen as stupid or unfair or corrupt.

Children like myself - who at times felt crushed by adult authority - could achieve a vicarious if rather pathetic satisfaction in reading about such opposition/defiance/insolence.

For example, the children from the "Mystery" series - the Five Find-Outers and Dog (not to be confused with the Famous Five) - have a dreadful attitude to the village policeman, the interestingly named Theophilus Goon. Mind you, adults so opposed are either, like Goon, dreadfully stupid and working-class, or simply "rough", obviously criminal, types - or dare I say it - they are black. The black man in The Island of Adventure - Jo-Jo - is a particularly interesting villain: you would expect Blyton to have made him unintelligent and easy to defeat - like the hapless Goon - but on the contrary Jo-Jo is exceptionally cunning, frightening and very dangerous.

I don't think I became a racist after reading about Jo-Jo. But I always loathed Julian from the Famous Five - the epitome of the upper class English public school boy. I remember the Comic Strip's Five Go Mad on Mescalin: when Julian demands a whole ham, home-baked bread, fresh butter, tomatoes, fruitcake and ginger beer from a local farmer's wife she tells him to get lost in no uncertain terms: "What do you think this is - bleedin' Harrods?"
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 10:27

Patrick, the "Oirish" member of the Six Terrors in Blyton's "Six Bad Boys", is a particularly nasty piece of work indeed. When all six boys end up in front of the magistrates at the end it is only Patrick who they deem to be rotten to the core and therefore irredeemable - the English kids, no matter how rotten they might have behaved too, at least have their innate English character to which, with encouragement, they will revert. Patrick, being Irish, is "wild", "cunning", "amusing" and "vicious" by nature. He's the one sent to prison. The others get off with lesser punishments, even though they all basically committed the crime together.

As a ten year old sitting in Dublin I learnt a lot from that one alright ...
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 10:56

Not entirely fair, nordmann. I just happen to have my very ancient copy of The Six Bad Boys in front of me. Fred (who is English and the nastiest piece of work) gets sent away too:

Then the other four boys were dealt with too. Patrick had a very bad school report and had been in trouble before. So had Fred. The magistrate was very stern with them indeed.

"You will both be sent away to schools for three years," he said. "And you will stop there the whole of that time if you don't behave yourselves. You were given a chance before and you didn't take it. Now you must learn your lesson the hard way."


What is interesting about my edition is the unusual foreword written by Basil Henriques C.B.E. J.P. - Henriques was Chairman of the East London Juvenile Court in 1951 when the book was first published.  Blyton dedicated The Six Bad Boys  "with respect and affection" to him. Henriques has this to say in paragraph two of his Foreword (not that many kids would have read it - but no doubt parents buying the book did):

"It is generally admitted that the 'broken home' is one of the main causes of children getting into trouble. It is the unhappy children rather than the 'bad' ones who come before the courts and it is the broken home which so often causes unhappiness in children, especially when the phrase is interpreted to include the home in which the parents quarrel in front of the children and from which the mother goes out to work at times when she is needed by them.

Interesting that Henriques - and Blyton -  could get it so right and so wrong. Bob Kent's mum has to go out to work - she is a widow: her desperately unhappy son gets into trouble not beause she has a job, but because she rejects him. Bob is a nuisance to his mother and he knows it. When told his mother won't support him he says: "I knew she wouldn't...I think she'll be glad to be rid of me really. I do want her very badly, but not if she doesn't want me." The boy had earlier said of his relationship with his mother: "She thinks I'm a nuisance now, you know. Nobody really wants me; I knew that, so it just seemed as though it didn't matter what I did!"

But Blyton then has Bob add: "I'll never in my life behave like this again...I know I wouldn't have if my father had been alive. I wouldn't have done it either if my mother hadn't gone out to work. Things got different then somehow. I know lots of mothers go out to work and aren't at home, like you are, when their children get home to welcome their children and get them their tea - but I bet all those kids hate it as much as I did! I did hate coming home to that cold, dark, empty house. I never, never want to go there again."

I suppose Blyton couldn't add that some homes are cold and empty even with mothers in them - it was her own daughters who passed that judgement.

The Six Bad Boys was serious stuff for our Enid all right - but it was a book I've always remembered - and kept.

EDIT: Blyton does show a certain sympathy for her wild Irish lad - not much though, I admit. She tells us that Patrick's father regularly beats his son. Mr O'Shea - unfortunately that is his name - boasts of this strict discipline to the Probation Officer.


Last edited by Temperance on Wed 13 Nov 2013, 12:04; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 11:00

Found a picture of Jo-Jo:

Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 12:13

I am far from my own copy - in every sense - so will thank you for the correction to my very old impression of the book. Actually as Blyton books go this was probably the closest she came to a realistic story line. Most of the characters act like real people and the writing was more adult too.

According to her daughter Gillian, Enid reckoned her gift for story-telling came from her Irish ancestry on her mother's side. Given the acrid relationship that developed between herself and her mother this might also explain her extreme antipathy towards all things Irish as evidenced in her stories. They were always portrayed in a negative light in her books. She herself never visited Ireland, once sending a "thanks, but no thanks" letter in response to an invitation to speak at a function organised by the Trinity College Student Literature Society in which she referred to "Irish education" as an oxymoron. Needless to say they framed it and it can still be seen on the wall of the Student Union's fellows room.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 13:40

I should add that it was only one of her daughters - Imogen - who was so critical of Blyton as a parent: Gillian remembered her mother with warmth and affection.

I had no idea she had Irish connections, but I know from my own family experience that the mix of English and Irish blood can be an unhappy one. Her remark about Irish education was extremely rude - especially in reply to an invitation to speak at the University Lit. Soc. Had the students been slyly rude to her, I wonder, in the wording of the invitation? Did she suspect they were setting her up for mockery?

The Independent asked back in 2008 whether Blyton - despite her faults, which are legion - should nevertheless be hailed as the best children's writer ever:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-big-question-should-enid-blyton-be-hailed-as-the-best-writer-for-children-904007.html

Blyton's own life had not been easy, especially her childhood, but the recent television biopic starring Helena Bonham Carter, was unforgiving. This Mail article on the programme, despite its lurid headline, is interesting. Bonham Carter was in consultation with Imogen as she prepared for the role, and her comments on the woman whose books we all devoured - and which no doubt did influence us for better or for worse -  are devastating.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1227422/New-TV-drama-reveals-Enid-Blyton-barking-mad-adulterous-bully.html


'Enid's self-awareness was brilliant and she was incredibly controlling, too,' explains Bonham Carter. 'I was attracted to the role because she was bonkers. She was an emotional mess and quite barking mad.

'What I found extraordinary, bordering on insane, was the way that Enid reinvented her own life. She was allergic to reality - if there was something she didn't like then she either ignored it or re-wrote her life.

'She didn't like her mother, so let her colleagues assume she was dead. When her mother died, she refused to attend the funeral. Then the first husband didn't work out, so she scrubbed him out.

'There's also a scene in the film where her dog dies, but she carries on pretending he's still alive because she can't bear the truth.'

Emotionally, Blyton remained a little girl, stuck in a world of picnics, secret-society codes and midnight feasts. It acted as a huge comfort blanket.


Many of Blyton's obsessions can be traced to her father, who left her mother when Enid was 12. She then seized up emotionally and physically.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 13:47

Temp wrote:
Then the first husband didn't work out, so she scrubbed him out.
And how. Blyton was the one having affairs. Then she blackmailed the poor Major into pleading guilty to infidelities he hadn't committed so that her own reputation could remain pristine in the public eye, on pain of never seeing his daughters again. She got the divorce she wanted, her reputation intact under false pretences, and then got a court order against him seeing the girls anyway. Not content with that she then actively ensured he could never get work again in the publishing business. The man ended up an alcoholic bankrupt. Bloody vindictive and egoistic little bitch, she was.

And no - there was no "sly rudeness" on the part of the Irish students when they invited her (even though being Irish they would of course have been "cunning", "wild" and "vicious" by nature, I suppose). However Trinity in the 1950s was most definitely not your average "Irish" institution at all. In many ways it was perhaps more English establishment than a lot of its English counterparts at the time!
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 14:00

@nordmann wrote:

Bloody vindictive and egoistic little bitch, she was.

EDIT: "idiotic" and "psychotic" should be added to above description.
Oh heck.

@nordmann wrote:
And no - there was no sly rudeness on the part of the Irish students when they invited her (even though being Irish they would of course have been "cunning", "wild" and "vicious" by nature, I suppose). However Trinity in the 1950s was most definitely not your average "Irish" institution at all. In many ways it was perhaps more English establishment than a lot of its English counterparts at the time!
Oh heck again.

No offence intended - I'm sure had the Oxford Union invited her to speak they would have been really cunning, wild and vicious.


Last edited by Temperance on Wed 13 Nov 2013, 14:30; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 14:08

As far as I recall it was a symposium about children's literature at which she would have been a guest speaker with, amongst others, CS Lewis. Her letter also makes reference to sharing a platform with people whose "timbre" (her word) is objectionable. Whatever she meant by this I don't know - though to call her reply "rude" is rather understating the case, I think. Whatever one might think about Lewis he hardly merited being attacked for his vocal qualities.

PS - You'll notice I've expanded "Bloody little bitch" in my earlier comment to include "vindictive" and "egoistic". You can lump "idiotic" and "psychotic" in with them too.

I liked the Secret Seven stories though.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 14:26

@nordmann wrote:


I liked the Secret Seven stories though.

They were crap.

The Magic Faraway Tree was the best - with the big slide down the middle. I remember suffering dreadful anxiety when the roots of the MFT were attacked by goblins (probably Irish) and the whole thing started to wilt and shed its leaves. It was awful.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2935
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 14:28

I can confidently say that I have never read any of Enid Blyton’s copious outpourings ..... And now that I learn that she was a vindictive, egoistic, bloody little bitch, I can smugly claim that I was right to have shunned her all along. Her books were a staple of our Sunday School Book Club which aimed to present us young parishoners with a couple of suitably ‘uplifting’ books every Christmas. Accordingly in my pre-teen anti-religious rebellion, any copies of Ms Blyton’s works I received were always eventually binned unread. I did however keep my Sunday School presentation King James Bible, equally unread but at least unbinned. But I was never much into fiction as a young child.

At school we were exhorted to read, and I did read a lot, but nearly always non-fiction. And I always felt slightly aggrieved that this didn’t seem to count the same as 'stories'. But I do remember enjoying RM Ballatyne’s ‘Coral Island’, which I thought all the more exciting since I had discovered it myself, literally, since it was a battered old copy that I’d found it in the attic in a box of my father’s old books. I devoured it and can still recall the adventures of Ralph Rover, and his chums: Perterkin Gay, and the older boy Jack, "… a fine strapping lad who stood almost a full six feet tall in his stockings …"Shocked 

This was all much more exciting stuff and probably much more morally uplifting than any of Blyton's nauseating guff, but I can’t say if it ever had any underlying influence on my own subsequent attitude and behaviour. Wink
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 775
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 15:00

I never analysed the social settings of Enid Blyton's books when I was young.  One thing I will say for her (may have mentioned it earlier in the thread) is she did make me WANT to read which Dick and Dora in "Happy Ventures" never did [I liked the "Wide Range" school books though].  I grew out of them eventually - with some 'pushing' from my mother.  Of course I never knew what she was like as a person and I never read the "Six Bad Boys". I wasn't from a dirt poor background but I wasn't in the going to posh boarding school bracket either. Mum and Dad had been born into working class homes but had parents who obtained something of an education.  I have to plead guilty to having liked much of her "copious outpourings" though (when I was an appropriate age to find them of interest).  It sounds like Meles meles may have NEVER been at an age to like them .....  She was a learning gateway for me though maybe not for others having read some of the other posts.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 15:09

MM wrote:
 But I do remember enjoying RM Ballatyne’s ‘Coral Island’, which I thought all the more exciting since I had discovered it myself, literally, since it was a battered old copy that I’d found it in the attic in a box of my father’s old books. I devoured it and can still recall the adventures of Ralph Rover, and his chums: Perterkin Gay, and the older boy Jack, "… a fine strapping lad who stood almost a full six feet tall in his stockings …". Shocked   


This was all much more exciting stuff and probably much more morally uplifting than any of Blyton's nauseating guff, but I can’t say if it ever had any underlying influence on my own subsequent attitude and behaviour.  
Ralph, Peterkin (as Simon) and Jack all reappeared in Lord of the Flies of course. Their adventures weren't quite such spiffing fun the second time around.

I'm very hurt Sad  you think I read nauseating guff as a little girl. I loved all Enid Blyton stories (except for the stupid Secret Seven) - much better than reading about fine strapping lads in stockings Smile . And I really did my best not to be morally uplifted by any of it - honest. (Kiki the Parrot, whom I loved, wasn't in the least bit morally uplifting - an extremely bad and vicious bird.)

And who on earth calls a character Peterkin Gay? What an utterly ridiculous name -  sounds like another idiot pretending to be Richard, Duke of York.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2935
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 16:11

Well yes who indeed, today, would want to be called Peterkin Gay ... but Coral Island was first published in 1858 and the world and the word has changed somewhat since then.

But even at ten years of age I think I accepted that the language, as well as the cruel, sadistic, indeed cannibalistic, portrayal of the black men in 'Coral Island' , was not a reflection of the real world in 1970, but that it reflected the prejudices of a victorian author of over 100 years earlier. Nevertheless I do still remember being somewhat annoyed/disappointed by the arrogant attitudes exhibited by the same three heroes when they reappeared in 'The Gorilla Hunters'.


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 13 Nov 2013, 16:25; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 775
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 16:23

Temperance, I wouldn't DREAM of saying you read rubbish as a child.  I read Enid Blyton books myself. From what I remember lots of children liked her in the fifties (says she showing her age).  Her work probably seems dated now but like I said, in all  honesty I never thought of the Famous Five being posh boys and girls back then - I did think their lives in that they had adventures were more exiting than mine.  As I said she was the conduit that got me reading - or at least reading for pleasure rather than considering reading a chore.  Some of the things that have come to light - if they are true - about her character don't depict her very favourably but it was her books I liked, not EB as a person.  Obviously many of the posters had a very different view of her writing even in childhood though.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 16:54

Oh, but I did, LiR! I went on from EB to read all the Shirley Flight (Air Hostess) and Sue Barton (Nurse) books, then, as an older teenager, progressed to the Angelique (sex with Louis XIV and various others) novels. Not for children of course and not all morally uplifting. I remember the utter horror on my father's face when he caught me reading Angelique and the Sultan.



I tried to pretend it was to help with my O-level French, but he wasn't fooled. I think the words "and the Sultan" in big letters in English on the cover gave it away. I did learn some history from Angelique though.



Love the pilot's moustache.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2935
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 17:08

If he's an airline pilot then why is he wearing a naval officer's white-topped hat? Eh? Or is that all part of the plot?

Frankly I hope he wasn't the hero ... he looks like Terry Thomas, or any other Ealing comedy bounder. No wonder your father stopped you reading it!


EDIT :

Of course I blame the Battle of Britain with it's enduring image of the gallant knight of the air, Churchill's valiant few, the noble lone warrior, an' all that. After 1940 my grandmother apparently repeatedly warned my mum against going out with "flyboys" as she called them. Grand-dad had of course been in the senior service, from a long line of naval men. But I guess mum didn't listen.

My Dad was in the RAF.


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 13 Nov 2013, 17:37; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : powercut and I can't quite see what I'm typing !)
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 13 Nov 2013, 17:29

Oh, I wasn't stopped from reading Shirley Flight, MM - it was the Angelique books (not written for children at all) that got banned from our house. I still read them of course.

Yes, he does look a bit like Terry Thomas - I think it's First Officer Tony Luckworth who was (quite innocently) smitten with our Shirl. Here's a bigger picture. The evil Arab looks like a reject from a Homeland episode.



EDIT: I think my father rather hoped I'd marry a decent chap - someone ex-RAF,  like Shirley's Tony Luckworth. He was terrified that I'd eventually bring home a Keith Richards  look-alike.

EDIT 2: A nice young doctor, like the one Sue Barton married, would also have been acceptable.

Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1113
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 14 Nov 2013, 00:30

Ah, I liked Sue Barton.  I liked stories where the girl (my reading in this regard was nearly all of girls, and I enjoyed them when they romanced, married and worked after marriage.  I don't know what I learnt from this, since I never had much interest in marriage and children myself and haven't done anything remotely like running a hospital or disappearing into the Australian outback. 

I read Enid Blyton, though the only one I remember much of is Noddy!  I know I read The Famous Five and the Secret Seven, but of the latter I remember nothing at all, no names, no events.  I did read at one stage as a child or young teenager (when, why, how?) an autobiography of Enid Blyton's.  I don't recall what she said of her life, but one chapter was called Grist for the Writer's Mill or similar, and I didn't know what that meant, not having coming across the word 'grist' before.  And she wrote that she didn't know where a story was going till she wrote it, no planning, and that made for more spontaneous work.  I am dubious about this, but don't know if I was at the time or not.  Noticed and thought about it enough to remember it anyway. Noddy and the Goblins gave me nightmares.

Living outside Britain meant that issues of class didn't really impinge on me, and I think anyway I was fairly accepting of what I read.  So Julian was just a boy, and ditto the rest of them.  What I did learn was that literature was written in England and America and not New Zealand.  (That has changed totally now.)  Reading at university a Janet Frame short story with kids in bare feet running over paddocks and helping on farms etc just amazed me.  I'd never read anything of my own experiences before.  I doubt that I had much idea of Britain or where it was at all really.  My son complained the other day that we didn't go places when he was a child, despite travelling to relatives in different parts of the South Island regularly, taking them to Australia once or twice, going to Auckland, and he went to Russia for a year when he was 17 (not that we took him, of course).  In contrast I didn't leave my province till I was nearly 16 and that was only to visit the hospital in Dunedin when my father was dying.  So I had a very limited idea of places.
Back to top Go down
Gran
Consulatus
avatar

Posts : 193
Join date : 2012-03-27
Location : Auckland New Zealand

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 14 Nov 2013, 05:53

So pleased to see you have made it home safely Caro.
As I was brought up in England during the war books were a little scarce so I tended to read the ones that came into my hands over and over. I think there were a lot of Grimms fairy tales, and grim they were too, the witch who was rolled down the hill in a barrell with inward pointing spikes kept me awake for a few nights. (Or was that the bombs??) I did get to see a few second hand comics which I enjoyed, and I used to enjoy Just William but I cant remember what year that would have been.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 14 Nov 2013, 08:22

An American friend of mine gets all wobbly-kneed and sentimental any time she comes across this stuff (she is currently a professor of EngLit and traces her love of literature back to these books specifically) ...



I wonder what kids in the USA today would make of an instruction to look at "the big mother"?
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 14 Nov 2013, 08:36

Mind you, if you find Dick and Jane horrific, bear in mind that in the USA in 1816 this was a typical page from schoolchildren's standard English Language Primer:



No prizes for guessing what children were learning from that.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 14 Nov 2013, 09:57

I must say I much prefer Puff as a dragon.

The very first sentences I read were, I think, from the Wide Range Readers that LiR mentions:

Nip is a dog.

Fluff is a cat.

Nice, sane, balanced, neutral stuff which has stayed with me all my life. No sexist or religious nonsense there (although I think there were illustrations of a mother who was always sewing - had absolutely no effect on me, as I have never been the least bit interested in sewing. I was never nimble with a needle.)

Talking of religious nonsense, I wonder what posters will make of this article from the Christian Teachers' Association website? Before you sharpen your knife, nordmann, please note I offer this for consideration only - the views expressed are the writer's own.

http://www.christian-teachers.org.uk/newscomment/31


As a young teacher I once got into trouble twice in one very bad week at school for a) reading a story about witches with Year Seven children -  can't remember the story now, but a Born-Again Christian parent accused me of all sorts of dreadful things and wanted my blood, and for b) reading and discussing the parable of the Good Samaritan with my tutor group - an atheist parent accused me of indoctrination and also wanted my blood.

Neither got my blood, I am happy to say - I was warned to "be more careful", but wasn't sacked.  Dangerous things, books, especially if you're a young teacher.
Back to top Go down
Triceratops
Censura
avatar

Posts : 3148
Join date : 2012-01-05

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 14 Nov 2013, 10:15

This is another author who's books have fallen foul of Political Correctness*, and are never seen in bookshops nowadays, though they were very popular in the 60s




*the "racist" content in these books is minimal, the most heavily criticized book in this respect,involving the war against the Japanese, were views which were widespread throughout the West when they were written during WWII.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 14 Nov 2013, 10:48

I think one thing that has come across from people's experiences as expressed in this thread is that children are way more discerning than they often get credit for. We all seemed to tread our way through the minefield of racism, sexism and other bigotries laid by the authors of our reading material with rather intelligent aplomb and dexterity, none of us corrupted or compromised en route to our obviously well-balanced and unbigoted adulthoods.

Which makes one wonder about the real effect of PC intervention these days. Could it be that the sanitisation of Noddy & Co actually leads to an ignorance on the child's part, and a dangerous one at that? Shielded from instances of bigotry in their formative years are they left unequipped to deal with it in later life? Does the vigorous application of political correctness enforce a value system which is actually devalued as a direct consequence, being now simply derivative and not grounded in concrete examples to which the child must react and through reaction discover their own values?

Are we the fortunate ones to have avoided such puritanism?
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Priscilla
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1892
Join date : 2012-01-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 14 Nov 2013, 19:31

Mmm. though I would like to agree that children like to make their own assessment, and that yes, the PC awareness pitches draws uncomfortable attention to attitudes that children had not been aware of in their innocence - for want of a better concept. Then, having written that, my mind strays to the overload that must have affected Hitler's youth. Whereas sub lim attitudes towards race colour and creed never affected me, I was moulded by other things from my reading - I must have read The Good Samaritan dozens of times from my Bible stories set (Gory illustrations giving added zest) The Samaritan's anonymity for instance impressed me no end, as did other concepts of qualities from this source and elsewhere....... but never from ' in yer face'  goody goody books, which I hated.
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2117
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 15 Nov 2013, 05:10

A new study into the evolution of folk tales,


Evolutionary analysis can be used to study similarities among folktales, according to new research published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jamshid Tehrani at Durham University in the United Kingdom.
Since the Brothers Grimm published their compilation of folktales 200 years ago, academics have noted that many plots from those European stories are similar to those from other stories all over the world. For instance, highly similar stories to “Little Red Riding Hood” have been observed in African and East Asian cultures. But whether these stories actually a share a common descent and are indeed the same type of tale has been difficult to demonstrate based on previous approaches.

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/11/2013/evolution-little-red-riding-hood
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5751
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 15 Nov 2013, 09:33

I shudder when i see the likes of phylogenetic principles being analytically applied to what are essentially sociological areas of study. As with the use of any tool in an application for which it was not designed there is inevitably a huge compromise to be made with regard to measuring its applicability, choosing its method of deployment, as well of course in assessing the final result. In this case the culprit has exaggerated similarities, ignored otherwise crucial differences, and subjectively phrased his findings - a compromise of standard academic principles that is frankly unforgivable in my view.

If one takes Little Red Riding Hood, as he did, and analyses the function of the story beyond its entertainment value one is left with a cautionary tale used as a vehicle to warn young audiences of some potential traps to avoid in life, principally to be extremely on guard when unprotected by an adult and to be very cautious in situations where something familiar might be employed by someone with evil intent to lull one into a false sense of security. Both of these lessons are as relevant today as they ever were, and both are universally true in all societies.

It is no surprise therefore to find stories in almost every society that mirror Red Riding Hood in intent and basic structure. But to then infer that they share a common root - a sort of fairy tale equivalent of bible scholars' hypothesised "Q" gospel - is as huge a leap in assumption as it is a departure from proper academic logic and technique. Claiming that this assumption is reinforced by labelling it a "phylogenetic" deduction is even more dishonest. Phylogenetic analysis is based on quite specific and observable physical phenomena and deemed only successful when a demonstrable evolution can be presented based on these findings, including not only evidence for the different versions of the phyli during this process but also of the genetic processes at work between these stages. In other words it is either complete and demonstrable an exposition of a process or else it has failed.

Folk tales evolve. This is true. However to infer from this that all folk tales addressing similar themes evolved from one source story is irresponsible reasoning. That they evolved from universal reasoning and motives is about all one can say with certainty, and dressing up any other assumption made in the false clothes of "phylogenetics" is as dishonest and as intended to deceive as a wolf dressed up as a granny.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 775
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 15 Nov 2013, 09:55

It was the boredom factor that got to me in the "Happy Venture" books.  Maybe living virtually on the outskirts of a [then] smallish town in my childhood meant that much of the class system went over my head.  Of course the town has grown and is about to grow some more.  My Mum did try to encourage me to speak "well" and I was as a result called a snob sometimes.  I can only recall one girl of mixed-race in my school year at secondary school.  My Mum corrected me for saying "Eenie meenie minie mo - Catch a n-word by the toe" when I was about five though I had not realised what the word meant.

Priscilla probably has a point that goodie-two-shoes type characters in stories can be a tiresome. I found "The Water Babies" a tad moralistic  This was a book I picked up in the class library - though in hindsight I can see that Kingsley was trying to raise awareness of matters such as child labour.  In the first year at secondary school the last period was called "Social" when we could read books from the class library or tidy desks or even chat (within reason).  I read a few "Mallory Towers" and "Chalet School" type books then though I can't remember them very well.  When we were a bit older reading Jean Plaidy and Frank Yerby books on school premises was considered very daring.  Mind you, it didn't happen in my year but one year "Candide" was on the syllabus for French "A" level and apparently at the time (I'm going by what one of my school-fellows said) it was on the list of books banned by the Vatican - our school being a "Convent High School" which boiled down to an independent school with some scholarship places.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5394
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : The Sceptred Isle

PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 16 Nov 2013, 07:38

@nordmann wrote:


Which makes one wonder about the real effect of PC intervention these days. Could it be that the sanitisation of Noddy & Co actually leads to an ignorance on the child's part, and a dangerous one at that? Shielded from instances of bigotry in their formative years are they left unequipped to deal with it in later life? Does the vigorous application of political correctness enforce a value system which is actually devalued as a direct consequence, being now simply derivative and not grounded in concrete examples to which the child must react and through reaction discover their own values?

Are we the fortunate ones to have avoided such puritanism?
Interesting points. Racism, bigotry, sexism - and all the other evils - all stem from the lust for domination - the triumph of the will. The power struggles start early. Children discover pretty quickly that life isn't a fairy tale and that the Wild Wood is full of nastiness, cruelty and malice. Most of us realised that in the sandpit or the Wendy House. To pretend otherwise is a confusing lie: how to deal with human nature is what the poor little blighters have to learn - somehow. PC humbug doesn't offer any satisfactory solutions - a vicious weasel by any other name is still a vicious weasel. These unpleasant creatures - and the stoats and ferrets - may well be unfortunate members of the starving rural proletariat, but they do exist all right and they are very scary. You get posh weasels too (not in Wind in the Willows though). Was it Ratty who noted that weasels may be "all right in a way...but...well, you can't really trust them." Sad, but true. And Toad may have been lovable, but he was a stupid, irresponsible idiot - another harsh lesson.

But perhaps you can take exposure to the unpleasant realities of life a bit too far. Tudor educationalists didn't mince their words when it came to warnings about the wages of sin. The following isn't children's literature, but is taken from Robert Whittington's Latin grammar (1520) which very young pupils would have studied. Whittington here kills two birds with one stone, cleverly offering examples of the genitive construction combined with a vivid reminder of the fate in store for naughty boys who fancied themselves as "terrors":

Upon London Bridge I saw three or four men's heads stand upon poles.

Upon Ludgate, the fore-quarter of a man is set upon a pole.

Upon the other side hangeth the haunch of a man with the leg.

It is a strange sight to see the hair of heads fall or mould away, and the gristle of the nose consumed away.

The fingers of their hands withered and clung unto the bare bones.


Nearly as bad as reading about the Land of Smacks which was one of the nastier revolving lands at the top of the Faraway Tree.



EDIT: Wiki notes the following PC updates to characters in Blyton's Enchanted Wood:

1n modern reprints, the names of some of the characters have been changed. Jo has been changed to Joe, the more common spelling for males, and Bessie is now Beth, the former name having fallen out of usage as a nickname for Elizabeth. Fanny and Dick, whose names now carry unfortunate connotations, have been renamed Frannie and Rick. The character of Dame Slap has become Dame Snap, and no longer practises corporal punishment but instead reprimands her students by shouting at them.

EDIT 2: Dame Slap ran a school for naughty pixies. Snap just doesn't sound the same somehow - I bet the pixie delinquents run rings round her now.


Last edited by Temperance on Sat 16 Nov 2013, 09:09; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   

Back to top Go down
 

The things we learnt from children's literature ...

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 2 of 7Go to page : Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of expression ... :: Literature :: Other-