Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh! All the memories

I've spent the last few days rereading my copies of Enid Blyton's Malory Towers series. Unfortunately I only have the third, fifth and sixth, but I am now determined to get my hands on the other three and read them obsessively. I love them for a number of reasons, which I shall enumerate here:

1. They bring back so many memories. Primarily of the days when I actually read the damn things (when I was about six to eight years old). At the time I was living in England, where people actually did say "you'd jolly well better not do that again!" (not all that often, but the point stands), where it seemed not only possible, but likely that fairies lived at the bottom of the garden, where an adventure and a mystery was just waiting around every corner, and where life was so full of simple wonder.

2. They bring back memories of my school. Malory towers, though of course overly idealised and cliched to the point of near-death, reminds me a little of my own school and reading these books reminds me of some of the good times. (there were many - it was a good school and I was in the right mental place to enjoy it.)

3. It's just so GOOD! Good as in everyone is good and kind and perfect, except for the people who aren't. It's totally black and white, and the baddies always either get their commeuppance or get reformed, the goodies are always recognised and loved, the ending is always happy and OH MY GOD I LOVE ENID BLYTON. Example:
" 'Sometimes hard things are good for us,' said Miss Grayling, and Miss Peters nodded. After all, the girls didn't come to Malory Towers only to learn lessons in class - they came to leran other things too - to be just and fair, generous, brave, kind. Perhaps those things were even more important than the lessons!"
Kids these days don't read her, I've noticed. Perhaps even 'in my day' - gosh, that makes me sound old - they didn't. But I lived within miles of the house where darling Enid lived, and I was a sweet, happy little child to whom the idea of finding secret passages, tackling 'rogues' and writing school pantomimes was ridiculously appealing, and for whatever reason I read and loved those books for many years. Or, you know, one or two years. It felt like a long time at age six.

Then, all of a sudden, I went off them. This was because it abruptly dawned on me that the prose was crazy. Commonly used words include: 'super' as in 'oh super! Lacrosse game tomorrow!', 'rotten' as in 'rotten breakfasts they have here!', 'wizard' as in 'that's a wizard drawing, Belinda!', and many other wonderful examples that I noticed at the time but have now slipped my mind. Not to mention the overabundance of explanation marks, as evidenced by my thoughtfully chosen examples.

Despite all her faults, however, I am eternally grateful to Enid Blyton, because it was her (and Roald Dahl) who introduced me to reading, and IT'S SO GREAT GUYS HAVE A GO

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