Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Childhood

On Lesotho has a great post about childhood experiences. Before I read his post I had been on the internet reading information about Enid Blyton, my favourite childhood author. Reading the Famous Five books was one of my great childhood pleasures, I was an avid bookworm. My grade 2 teacher started reading Five Run Away Together to us in class and by the end of the year she hadn't finished the book, so I went out and bought my own copy to find out what happened. That was my first ever book buying experience. That was in the late 70's and from then on I used to buy Famous Fives at our local CNA and the cost was R1.75c. And I have to admit, that even to this day, every now and again, I go back and reread my Enid Blyton's. Well on my internet search I came accross a wonderful radio documentary on Enid Blyton, and to my pleasant surprise found out that a lot of adults who read her books as children do the same thing - especially in times of stress, perhaps because the books are total escapism and create a world of adventure and security.

I also discovered that it took her five days to write a Famous Five and in one particular year she published 69 books - which turns out to be a book every five days, quite a remarkable feat.

This quote kind of sums it up for me,

"God bless you Enid Blyton - I read your stories sitting on a cushion in a back alleyway in Liverpool. You helped me escape from a drab world. Hidden tunnels, lost passageways, the whole lichen-coated paraphernalia of forbidden places poured into my head and washed what seemed mundane reality aside. Your writing was repetitive and clumsy and bigoted, your villains were stereotyped, your characters all wooden, but so what? You transported a million children beyond the reach of the grown-up-thou-shalt-not-world."
Brian Patten, Poet

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