The Enid Blyton Society

Articles in Dorset

If it doesn't fit into any of the above categories, post it here!

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Courtenay » 15 May 2017, 22:42

Rob Houghton wrote:The mention by the article writer of Sooty Lenoir is totally ridiculous, as you say...and I feel sure he's got (gotten?!!) this from some other article...


Ill-gotten, certainly. :twisted:

I should add, by the way, that I'm not a fanatical defender of Enid's reputation and I've no problem with the writer making clear that she had serious personal flaws. I just felt that that overwhelmingly negative picture of her dominates the whole article and doesn't leave much room for what makes her books so enjoyable and popular, unlike the Country Life article, which does focus on that and does an admirable job of it. In fact, the Country Life article says a lot more about the Famous Five and their continuing appeal than does this article in a magazine that is specifically about attracting people to Dorset!! :shock:
Society Member

It was a nuisance. An adventure was one thing - but an adventure without anything to eat was quite another thing. That wouldn't do at all. (The Valley of Adventure)
User avatar
Courtenay
 
Posts: 10648
Joined: 07 Feb 2014, 01:22
Location: Kent, near London
Favourite book/series: The Adventure Series, Galliano's Circus
Favourite character: Lotta

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Rob Houghton » 15 May 2017, 23:51

Yes - I've always felt Blyton's 'flaws' shouldn't be ignored - but I hate it when they appear to be used against her in a sensational way. Many of her 'flaws' were instilled in her in childhood, I believe (as most of our good and bad points are!) resulting from her parent's bad relationship, the fact her mother made the children lie about their father leaving, the fact that she was brought up in an era when women should know their place, etc. Because of this, and because Enid was a strong-willed and independent woman, she often had to work harder than many women would these days - to prove herself. She wouldn't have written so many great books and been as popular as she was (and still is!) without that drive, which often meant she neglected other things (such as her husband and children).

These days that wouldn't happen to quite the same extent, because she would be treated more seriously by husband and by society. Also, her unhappy childhood gave her a dislike of reality, which she would escape from as much as possible through her writing. That's why her writing is so wonderfully escapist. I tend to see Enid as a victim rather than a bad person.
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



Society Member
User avatar
Rob Houghton
 
Posts: 11270
Joined: 26 Feb 2005, 22:38
Location: Kings Norton, Birmingham
Favourite book/series: Rubadub Mystery and The Find-Outers
Favourite character: Fatty

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Courtenay » 16 May 2017, 01:08

To be fair, the Dorset article does make those points about her childhood having a lot to do with her flaws as a wife and mother as well as her ability to write wonderfully escapist literature. But that's left till right at the end and doesn't do as much as it could to mitigate the first three-quarters or so of the article — especially when it's already obvious, particularly from the Sooty Lenoir comments, that the author doesn't know as much about Enid as he thinks he does, even while he's taking a fairly sardonic view of her.
Society Member

It was a nuisance. An adventure was one thing - but an adventure without anything to eat was quite another thing. That wouldn't do at all. (The Valley of Adventure)
User avatar
Courtenay
 
Posts: 10648
Joined: 07 Feb 2014, 01:22
Location: Kent, near London
Favourite book/series: The Adventure Series, Galliano's Circus
Favourite character: Lotta

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 16 May 2017, 07:41

Courtenay wrote:The bit that made me wince most, though — and this shows how carefully Mr Lee-Potter has read Blyton (or not, rather) — is this claim near the beginning, that Enid "has often been accused of racist and xenophobic views because of her references to golliwogs and unlikeable black characters such as the appallingly-named Sooty Lenoir, a French schoolboy in Five Go to Smuggler's Top." :evil:

I actually yelped out loud when I first read that line — Sooty Lenoir an "unlikeable black character"?! For starters, it's clear from the story that he's NOT black in the ethnic sense, simply very dark in his hair and eyes; I never got the impression Enid meant that his skin was black (she would have said so if it was). Sooty is the nickname his friends at school have given him and he seems to accept it happily, not viewing it as a racial taunt of any kind. And "unlikeable"?! I haven't read Smuggler's Top since I was about 8 years old and I still remember Sooty as one of the most fun, interesting and thoroughly likeable of Enid's "supporting" characters in the Famous Five books. Superficial and stupid misreadings of Enid like that verdict above just go to show how many of her critics haven't read her books properly — they're just looking through the narrow lens of their own assumptions and prejudices and finding what they expect to find, even if it isn't actually there. :roll:

Rob Houghton wrote:The mention by the article writer of Sooty Lenoir is totally ridiculous, as you say...and I feel sure he's got (gotten?!!) this from some other article, as I seem to remember the accusations previously. He seems to have just lifted this half-baked (or actually not even baked at all) accusation from another ill-informed article writer. I wish I could remember where I read something similar about Sooty Lenoir before.

Didn't Stephen Isabirye suggest that Sooty Lenoir might have been a black-skinned boy? I doubt Adam Lee-Potter has read the Anecdotage, however, so he may well be making assumptions based on the character's nickname and surname. I agree that the description of Sooty as "unlikeable" indicates that Adam Lee-Potter hasn't actually read Five Go to Smuggler's Top - or that he read it so long ago that he has forgotten the details.
"Heyho for a starry night and a heathery bed!" - Jack, The Secret Island.

"There is no bond like the bond of having read and liked the same books."
- E. Nesbit, The Wonderful Garden.


Society Member
User avatar
Anita Bensoussane
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 19097
Joined: 30 Jan 2005, 23:25
Location: UK
Favourite book/series: Adventure Series and Family Books
Favourite character: Fatty, Jack Trent and Elizabeth Allen

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Courtenay » 16 May 2017, 08:32

Considering that when Enid did introduce black characters in The Island of Adventure and The Mountain of Adventure (published respectively before and after Smuggler's Top), she left us in absolutely no doubt that they were black, I can't imagine she'd have neglected to tell us that Sooty Lenoir was black if that's what she intended him to be!! As you say, Anita, it just seems to be an assumption the writer is making from the name without having read the book (or at least not remembering it very well at all) and figuring that a character with a name like "Sooty Lenoir" could only be a) black and b) portrayed in a demeaning manner. Which says more about Adam Lee-Potter's attitude towards Enid than Enid's attitude towards race, really... :roll:
Society Member

It was a nuisance. An adventure was one thing - but an adventure without anything to eat was quite another thing. That wouldn't do at all. (The Valley of Adventure)
User avatar
Courtenay
 
Posts: 10648
Joined: 07 Feb 2014, 01:22
Location: Kent, near London
Favourite book/series: The Adventure Series, Galliano's Circus
Favourite character: Lotta

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Rob Houghton » 16 May 2017, 11:47

Courtenay wrote:
I can't imagine she'd have neglected to tell us that Sooty Lenoir was black if that's what she intended him to be!! As you say, Anita, it just seems to be an assumption the writer is making from the name without having read the book (or at least not remembering it very well at all) and figuring that a character with a name like "Sooty Lenoir" could only be a) black and b) portrayed in a demeaning manner. Which says more about Adam Lee-Potter's attitude towards Enid than Enid's attitude towards race, really... :roll:


Or maybe it tells us more about Adam lee-Potter's attitude towards people of different skin colours and races. Sounds like he himself has considered 'Sooty' to be the name of a black person, which is surely much more racist than Enid was?
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



Society Member
User avatar
Rob Houghton
 
Posts: 11270
Joined: 26 Feb 2005, 22:38
Location: Kings Norton, Birmingham
Favourite book/series: Rubadub Mystery and The Find-Outers
Favourite character: Fatty

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby IceMaiden » 16 May 2017, 23:14

Courtenay wrote:I've now had time to read the main article on Enid in Dorset magazine — "Blyton's Ripping Yarns" by Adam Lee-Potter (and I'm sure "ripping yarns" is yet another supposed-to-be-Blytonesque cliche that Enid herself never used) — and I'm still deeply unimpressed.

The author does make some attempt to be balanced, not only writing extensively about the ugly and sometimes outright cruel side of Enid's personality, but going into the possible reason why she was like that — "Blyton was — but then, aren't we all? — forged by her own childhood." He goes on to describe how she was shattered when her father left their family when she was 12 and this stunted her emotional and even physical development, leading to her apparent inability to be a good wife (at least to Hugh) and mother but also enabling her to create these marvellous fantasy worlds as her way of escaping from all that she couldn't cope with. I'm familiar with that analysis and I'm sure there's something in it, but the article doesn't really go into much depth and the overriding impression it leaves of Enid is very negative.

This isn't helped by the fact that the writer of this article leans heavily on the biopic Enid, with input from the producer and director as well as Helena Bonham Carter; I haven't seen that film, but I know from others' comments here that a lot of people feel it was a very unfair portrayal. There's also a quote from Imogen's "scathing autobiography" A Childhood at Green Hedges, but nothing to indicate that Enid's older daughter, Gillian, took a more forgiving view of their mother. Enid was obviously a very complex character — and I don't know nearly as much about her personal life as many people here do, as I haven't read any biographies of her at all — but I'm afraid this article could more or less be summed up as saying: "Gosh, she was a monster, but hey, she was brilliant at self-marketing and she wrote all these books that are still selling like hot cakes despite the fact that they're more than a little non-PC." :roll:

The bit that made me wince most, though — and this shows how carefully Mr Lee-Potter has read Blyton (or not, rather) — is this claim near the beginning, that Enid "has often been accused of racist and xenophobic views because of her references to golliwogs and unlikeable black characters such as the appallingly-named Sooty Lenoir, a French schoolboy in Five Go to Smuggler's Top." :evil:

I actually yelped out loud when I first read that line — Sooty Lenoir an "unlikeable black character"?! For starters, it's clear from the story that he's NOT black in the ethnic sense, simply very dark in his hair and eyes; I never got the impression Enid meant that his skin was black (she would have said so if it was). Sooty is the nickname his friends at school have given him and he seems to accept it happily, not viewing it as a racial taunt of any kind. And "unlikeable"?! I haven't read Smuggler's Top since I was about 8 years old and I still remember Sooty as one of the most fun, interesting and thoroughly likeable of Enid's "supporting" characters in the Famous Five books. Superficial and stupid misreadings of Enid like that verdict above just go to show how many of her critics haven't read her books properly — they're just looking through the narrow lens of their own assumptions and prejudices and finding what they expect to find, even if it isn't actually there. :roll:

In conclusion, not an article I want to either keep for myself or share with my family after all! :x


I have been very busy and haven't got around to reading the article yet, but having read what you've put Courtenay I don't think I'll bother! In fact I wish I'd read your post before I ordered the magazine as I wouldn't have wasted three quid nor given a sale to a company writing claptrap like that :x . So what if Enid wasn't perfect - name any human being who ever has been or will be - she was a person just like anyone else not a machine programmed to function faultlessly. I'm fed up of hearing or reading about so called 'awful people' and how bad they were and how many faults they had and how frowned upon when I'd bet everything I own that all those people tutting while spouting their 'scandalous snippets' aren't whiter than white themselves and have done more than a couple of things that doesn't exactly paint them in glory either. People aren't perfect and it's about time they stopped being condemned for it. It actually makes my blood boil that rather than applaud such a marvellous mind certain people would rather slate the person because she had a character called 'Sooty' in one book and had a few natural human flaws that we all have in one way or another. I'm not saying Enid didn't have flaws but they are only a part of her, she shouldn't be defined by them as she seems to be. Sorry for the essay but I hate it when people start bleating on like that about someone's shortcomings when we all have our idiosyncrasies and little foibles as there's no such thing as perfect in a living being - even Mary Poppins was only practically perfect :D .
Society Member
User avatar
IceMaiden
 
Posts: 675
Joined: 07 Jan 2016, 18:49
Location: North Wales
Favourite book/series: Too many to mention! All of them!
Favourite character: George

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Courtenay » 17 May 2017, 00:07

IceMaiden wrote:I'm not saying Enid didn't have flaws but they are only a part of her, she shouldn't be defined by them as she seems to be. Sorry for the essay but I hate it when people start bleating on like that about someone's shortcomings when we all have our idiosyncrasies and little foibles as there's no such thing as perfect in a living being - even Mary Poppins was only practically perfect :D .


Well said, IceMaiden, all of it.

Image
(I reckon we all need a Mary Poppins to keep us in line sometimes! :lol: )

More seriously, it does feel from the article almost as if the writer (and he's not the first one) is gloating over how awful Enid was to her children and her first husband, as if to say "look what a harridan she was under that squeaky-clean façade." No sensitivity towards the fact that of course she had to present a "perfect" picture of herself and her supposedly idyllic family life to the world, as back in the 1940s and '50s, if there'd been any whiff of scandal (alcoholic and unfaithful first husband, affair with then-married man, acrimonious divorce, inability to be a good mother to her own children) attached to her image, the public would have turned against her and probably refused to buy her books. These days everyone loves juicy gossip and it sometimes seems the more outré a famous person's private life is, the more popular they'll be. Back then, Enid's all-too-human foibles could have got her written off in many people's minds as Not Morally Fit to Write for Children. I would say she had no choice, really, but to hide behind her own sanitised image and keep on pushing away those darker aspects of her life that it seems she never really coped with. That's not to excuse everything she did (like never letting her daughters see their father), but it does make her more understandable. As Rob said, I think in many ways she was a victim herself, not an inherently bad person.
Society Member

It was a nuisance. An adventure was one thing - but an adventure without anything to eat was quite another thing. That wouldn't do at all. (The Valley of Adventure)
User avatar
Courtenay
 
Posts: 10648
Joined: 07 Feb 2014, 01:22
Location: Kent, near London
Favourite book/series: The Adventure Series, Galliano's Circus
Favourite character: Lotta

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby timv » 17 May 2017, 08:30

totally agree with Ice Maiden on this. It seems that the more supposedly scandalous allegations that ratings-chasing TV scriptwriters can find to throw at a major author in a drama the better. This may well have 'legitimate' reasons as far as maximising the audience is concerned, though this should apply to commerical TV not so much to the BBC. Worse is that reviewers and later article writers lazily mix up this with the truth. I am thinking of the TV drama starring Helen Bonham Carter as the principal culprit here, as the sort of stories dredged up in the 'Dorset' article seem to reference that version of Enid's life rather than earlier books on her early life and 'neglect' of her daughters. I doubt if much of that material would have been so well known but for the TV version, which was itself dramatic 'fiction' rather than an accurate documentary but is often taken for the latter. The very basic mistake over 'Sooty' being 'black' not dark-haired shows the author has not read the book in question.

Authors' flaws and troubled childhoods often played a major role in stimulating their imaginations and they 'worked out' their personal 'issues' in their stories, but that is perfectly normal. Ditto representing the social standards of their childhoods in their adult work, eg in Enid's case not being up to date on always promoting the idea of working women (though think of Mrs Mannering and Mistletoe Farm's Linnie) and having her children ridicule some 'scruffy' working class characters. Why make it out (as this article seems to do) that this somehow invalidates or diminishes their writing? And why is there all this insistence on judging past writers brought up in a different social climate by the standards of today? If authors - especially popular ones -are to be constantly judged on account of their flaws, what about Dickens and his poor treatment of his wife and children? Ditto Tolstoy?
Society Member
timv
 
Posts: 154
Joined: 31 Jul 2015, 10:06

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Rob Houghton » 17 May 2017, 11:40

timv wrote:and having her children ridicule some 'scruffy' working class characters. Why make it out (as this article seems to do) that this somehow invalidates or diminishes their writing?


To be honest, I'd be very surprised (and disbelieving!) if there was anyone on this forum who, as children, didn't make fun of someone else because they were scruffy or dirty or spoke funny etc etc - most children judge by appearance.

In fact, come to think of it, most adults do, too. So I never quite understand some of these accusations about 'working class' characters or gypsies. Gypsies and travellers are still looked upon today as dirty thieving individuals who break into public parks and leave litter and dirt behind them. We all judge people, and Enid was no different. We judge the 'upper classes' if we perceive ourselves to be lower, we judge the 'lower' if we perceive ourselves to be upper. There are very, very few people who can say hand on heart that they don't.
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



Society Member
User avatar
Rob Houghton
 
Posts: 11270
Joined: 26 Feb 2005, 22:38
Location: Kings Norton, Birmingham
Favourite book/series: Rubadub Mystery and The Find-Outers
Favourite character: Fatty

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby IceMaiden » 20 May 2017, 01:09

I doubt there is anyone anywhere that can say they don't judge by appearance and if they do then I'd say they were lying. I have no problem at all with it being in the books, I'd be more disbelieving if it wasn't as it would be completely unnatural and unrealistic if Enid hadn't had her characters behave like this. Everyone, no matter what age they are, judges by appearance to some degree, you can't help it as your own gut instinct will make you do it if nothing else! You do it without even being consciously aware of it.
Society Member
User avatar
IceMaiden
 
Posts: 675
Joined: 07 Jan 2016, 18:49
Location: North Wales
Favourite book/series: Too many to mention! All of them!
Favourite character: George

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Chrissie777 » 30 May 2017, 20:52

We've just received the mail which USPS had collected since 10th of May while we were abroad, but there's still no DORSET MAGAZINE (my husband ordered it on May 2nd).
I'm crushed :(. Hope it didn't get lost...
Chrissie

Society Member

"For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake."
Alfred Hitchcock
User avatar
Chrissie777
 
Posts: 5520
Joined: 17 Mar 2012, 16:54
Location: Worcester, MA, USA
Favourite book/series: Famous Five, Adventure Series, Valley of Adventure
Favourite character: George Kirrin, Jack Trent

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Rob Houghton » 30 May 2017, 22:18

Chrissie - I tried taking photos of the Country Life magazine article, but they didn't come out well and were always blurred. :-( I don't have a great scanner that is attached to a computer, either, so its quite difficult to scan things. :-(
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



Society Member
User avatar
Rob Houghton
 
Posts: 11270
Joined: 26 Feb 2005, 22:38
Location: Kings Norton, Birmingham
Favourite book/series: Rubadub Mystery and The Find-Outers
Favourite character: Fatty

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Courtenay » 30 May 2017, 22:24

If it's any consolation, Chrissie, a number of us who bought it were very disappointed with the Dorset article, as you can read earlier in this thread. :( But do read it for yourself when it comes (hopefully it will!) and see what you think.
Society Member

It was a nuisance. An adventure was one thing - but an adventure without anything to eat was quite another thing. That wouldn't do at all. (The Valley of Adventure)
User avatar
Courtenay
 
Posts: 10648
Joined: 07 Feb 2014, 01:22
Location: Kent, near London
Favourite book/series: The Adventure Series, Galliano's Circus
Favourite character: Lotta

Re: Articles in Dorset

Postby Chrissie777 » 31 May 2017, 19:29

Rob Houghton wrote:Chrissie - I tried taking photos of the Country Life magazine article, but they didn't come out well and were always blurred. :-( I don't have a great scanner that is attached to a computer, either, so its quite difficult to scan things. :-(


Thanks for trying to scan it, Rob.
Your scanner sounds like ours. I'm never happy with it's text scans. It makes better photos, but the text is hard to read or not readable at all.
Chrissie

Society Member

"For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake."
Alfred Hitchcock
User avatar
Chrissie777
 
Posts: 5520
Joined: 17 Mar 2012, 16:54
Location: Worcester, MA, USA
Favourite book/series: Famous Five, Adventure Series, Valley of Adventure
Favourite character: George Kirrin, Jack Trent

PreviousNext

Return to Miscellaneous Blyton

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest