• A. Gulvin Translation

Enid Blyton and the Famous Five

Enid Blyton is a famous British children's writer. Her books have been enjoyed all over the world and have sold over 600 million copies. There are not many grandparents in Britain who don’t have a set of Enid Blyton’s works on their shelves for when the grandchildren come to stay! (A favourite pastime of ours when we were young!)



One of the most famous series is the Adventures of the Famous Five – Julian, Dick, Georgina (George) Anne, and Timothy the dog. Twenty-one books in this series were published between 1942 and 1963.


This truly British collection of stories are always set in the picturesque English countryside when the four children are at home for the school holidays from their respective boarding schools. The settings for their adventures are almost always rural and enable the children to discover the joys of the English and Welsh countryside and seashores. Food is a feature in the books and Blyton spends time describing delightful-sounding picnics, complete with lemonade, home made food, ices, macaroons and lashings of ginger beer!  Adventures for the Five are often found in the houses they stay in, which are always hundreds of years old, and usually contain some sort of secret passage or smugglers' tunnel.


For anyone learning English, these books present some truly traditional writing when compared with writing styles in children’s books today and this makes an interesting comparison. Nowadays, when reading a Famous Five book, one can notice how much the English language used in writing has changed over time. Take a look at the following snippet from ‘Five Fall into an Adventure’ first published in 1950:


"There won’t be time for any adventure these hols," said Dick, regretfully, as they walked down the lane to Kirrin Cottage. Red poppies danced along the way and in the distance the sea shone as blue as cornflowers. "Only two weeks – and we go back to school! Well, let’s hope the weather keeps fine. I want to bathe six times a day!" Soon they were all sitting around the tea-table at Kirrin Cottage, and their Aunt Fanny was handing round plates of her nicest scones and tea-cake.’ [1]

This kind of language is quite old-fashioned, and in books today a different register is used. There are some particular words that crop up throughout reading one of these novels – see if you know what any of them mean*:


#Wizard!’

#Spiffing

#Galoshes

#Trippers

#Shan’t’


In 2010, Blyton’s books were actually republished with modern phrases – check out this article for more detailed information.


This is a bold move by publishers who have altered a classic series of books to bring them in line with changing language in society – personally, I think that they should never have been republished; they were perfect as they were and should be embraced as an example of classic children’s literature in their original form for many young readers to come!


Interestingly, there has also been a lot of debate about Enid Blyton’s writing as regards the fact that it is often seen to be prejudiced and badly constructed. However, as a true fan of her work after having grown up on it, I would always recommend a read. Just be prepared to have your mouth watering and your stomach rumbling throughout!


What do you think about changing language? Should Enid Blyton's books have been republished using modern language or do you think they should keep their traditional style? Do you know what any of the words in blueabove mean? Let us know by leaving us a comment below!


by Chloe Sinden, guest writer.


*Answers:

‘Wizard!’ = positive exclamation (awesome!)

‘Spiffing’ = positive exclamation (excellent!)

‘Galoshes’ = waterproof overshoe (wellies/gumboots)

‘Trippers’ = people on a day out

‘Shan’t’ = won't

_____

[1] E. Blyton, Five Fall Into Adventure, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd (Great Britain, 1950) p. 5.

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