Friday, 28 June 2013

Why did 1960s critics, teachers and librarians fail to see the genius of Enid Blyton?


I read a great deal of Enid Blyton in my early and middle childhood, and was aware of the continual denigration of her work which came from the likes of critics, teachers and librarians.

I just ignored them and carried on reading.

Since her brooks are for the younger child, there is not much to attract adult readers, so from teens onwards I don't think I re-read any Blyton.


Then when my children came along I read some Blyton with them, and read Barbara Stoney's biography of Enid Blyton - which I re-read with great enjoyment and profit last week.

It is very clear now that Enid Blyton was a genuine female genius - not just in terms of the quality (bearing in mind that she is par excellence a writer for children and must be evaluated as such), and quantity of her work - which was simply staggering (topping-off which was that she did not even employ a literary agent or secretary, yet solicited letters from readers and personally answered a huge mailbag) - but a genius, too, in terms of her mode of work, her way of thinking.


Blyton left a detailed account of her method of composition in some fascinating letters to a psychologist called Peter McKellar. Here is part of an excerpt given by Barbara Stoney:

I shut my eyes for a few minutes, with my portable typewriter on my knees; and I make my mind a blank and wait - and then, as clearly as I could see real children, my characters stand before me in mind's eye... The story is enacted almost as if I had a private cinema screen there... I don't know what is going to happen... Sometimes a character makes a joke, a really funny one that makes me laugh as I type it on my paper and I think, "Well, I couldn't have thought of that myself in hundred years!", and then I think: "Well, who did think of it?

Blyton thus wrote in a trance state, a shamanic state - and her mastery of this state was the key to the reality of her world and her tremendous productivity. 


In the days when Blyton was criticized without restraint, people used to say she was a 'bad writer' in the sense that her prose was supposedly badly formed and her plotting was supposedly crude. 

This is false. Her prose is clean and smooth and the books are very tightly written. Compared with most of the feted modern children writers - whose work is often padded-out, flaccid - Blyton's stories are all meat with no gristle.


So why was she so hated?

The answer is obvious, her work was designed to exemplify and promote Goodness: public, bless them, feel in my books a sense of security, an anchor, a sure knowledge that right is right, and that such things as courage and kindness deserve to be emulated. Naturally the morals or ethics are intrinsic to the story - and therein lies their true power.  

Blyton was brought up a nonconformist Christian, a Baptist, but (as with many geniuses) her observance and belief faded as her created talent waxed.

She consequently did not live fully by Christian ideals, especially in terms of the sexual arena - marriage and divorce and remarriage, both to divorced men; however, unlike most literary geniuses, Blyton retained almost all her Christian practices, ethics and principles. Indeed, she wrote a great deal of Christian literature for children. 

Blyton was, therefore, that thing most loathed by the Left - a hypocrite. That is someone whose life does not match up to their publicly stated beliefs. Not all that much of a hypocrite, in fact, but enough for the Left who wanted to destroy her.


To try and destroy, Blyton, the Leftist establishment said (and are still saying) all kinds of incompetent and ignorant nonsense and gibberish (indeed, I have never read or heard so much pure garbage talked about any other writer) to conceal that what the Left really hate about Enid Blyton was her effectiveness as a writer, and that her books were a good influence on children.

Therefore, being both good and effective and amazingly productive; quite naturally (to the Leftist mindset) Blyton should be slandered, ridiculed, bowdlerized, suppressed.