Have you heard the news? I have and I don’t like it. Enid Blyton is a famous children’s author who has written, the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, the Five Find-Outers-and Dog and many more. Her books are sold worldwide and have been translated into 90 languages and over 600 million copies have been sold. However, her work has been under scrutiny since forever. The introduction of the Golliwog toy also made a big impact because it was described as a symbol of racism.
What drew my attention was the more recent charges of – racism, sexism, and xenophobia made by the English Heritage organization, to the extent of discussing removal of the ”Blue Plaque”. All these claims are similar to the past claims and similar explanations have been given. However, I feel we need to consider that Enid Blyton was active during the years 1897 to 1962 and her books only reflect the views of these times.
Enid Blyton has been caught out for connecting riches with smartness in the character of Fredrick Algernon Trotville (Fatty), the leader of the Five Find-Outers. The connection drawn is strange. She only connects money with means. For example, Fatty can afford disguises thus he buys them; thus, he uses them, ergo he is good at using them. So, the argument that the author connects smartness to richness makes no sense at all. I don’t think there is much point saying more.
Onwards towards, ‘The Three Gollies’ and ‘The Little Black Doll’ and ‘Noddy’. In the Noddy series do you remember reading about Mr. Golly, the garage-owner, or the bad Gollies, who stole Noddy’s car? NO! because they became Mr. Sparks and goblins. I think this is unfair! You blame her for being racist for placing black dolls as the enemy and then you go and replace Noddy’s black-faced friend (Mr Golly) with white-faced friend (Mr Sparks)? That is racist. In ‘The Little Black Doll’ she uses the phrase, ‘washed clean by the rain’ which caused much furore. It was interpreted to mean that only white people are clean but then there is no other word for washed so why all the brouhaha? If you walked in with your face covered in soot and went to the sink and washed your face clean, what would you say? I rest my case.
Now I have a question to those of a darker shade of skin (including myself). While reading Enid Blyton did you feel lesser? No, because you read the story and not just the words. You were amazed by the beautiful world of imagination laid out in front of you and I for one did not look at individual words. Why are the people who read with magnifying glasses allowed to dictate what we read? Aren’t we allowed to decide on our own? Tintin in the Congo is an endangered book despite it being amazing. Why? Because they found a white man bringing Natives to the light?
The British and European countries colonized large parts of the world for centuries and destroyed the earlier way of life in the colonies but why attack and villainize individuals selectively like Enid Blyton and Herge? Isn’t that equally bad?
To the people who declared Enid Blyton – Racist, Sexist and Xenophobic I have a challenge. Put down your magnifying glasses and just read the books as books. Or better still, ask your children to read them and see what they think. People who burned and banned books were supposed to be yesterday’s news, but they are back! They cannot and will not make us unsee the brilliant author! If you are with me, Nod!