Saturday, July 31, 2010

Five meet the 21st century

Once a treasure always a treasure… even if means changing the lingo. They've done it to the Ancients - Homer, Socrates, Ovid - and the Classics - Shakespeare, Goethe, Milton - too many to mention, so that we modern plebs can access, appreciate and perpetuate the creative greats. Now they're giving the marvellous Enid Blyton a turn.
The Guardian reports that, approaching 70 years since they were written, publishers have ‘updated’ Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series because they feared her 1940s vernacular was putting off 21st century kids.
Commenting on Hodder’s decision to release ten updated versions of Blyton’s Famous Five novels, journalist Alison Flood bade “farewell’ to “awful swotters,” “dirty tinkers” and “jolly japes,” explaining:
Hodder is ‘sensitively and carefully’ revising Blyton’s text after research with children and parents showed that the author’s old-fashioned language and dated expressions were preventing young readers from enjoying the stories. The narrative of the novels will remain the same, but expressions such as ‘mercy me!’ have been changed to ‘oh no!,’ ‘fellow’ to ‘old man’ and ‘it’s all very peculiar’ to ‘it’s all very strange.’ …
“Other changes include ‘housemistress’ becoming ‘teacher,’ ‘awful swotter’ becoming ‘bookworm,’ ‘mother and father’ becoming ‘mum and dad,’ ‘school tunic’ becoming ‘uniform’ and Dick’s comment that ‘she must be jolly lonely all by herself’ being changed to ‘she must get lonely all by herself.’”
Mercy me! The old lady might be rolling in her grave, but hopefully happily, as it signifies her perpetuity.

7 comments:

evaf said...

'mother and father' to 'mum and dad'?? it may help her to remain perpetually popular but surely part of enid blyton's purpose in writing the stories was to colourfully describe a specific time and culture. it's one thing to 'adapt' a story (ie. Emma becomes Clueless) but to change the language and call it the same book?

Rubyfire writes said...

I'm with you Eva, as an Enid Blyton purist it goes against the grain. But the way I see it, if updating the language makes the difference between a kid who discovers the magical wonder and adventure of her stories, and a kid who sits vacantly in front of the TV while it sucks out every last one of their tender young brain cells, then update!!

yakshaver said...

Can see both perspectives but... hmm... I kinda like the elitism of reading the original. Then again, any translation (from, say, French/Swahili/Italian) will suffer similar fates of no longer being "original". "Traduttore e tradittore", say the Italians: the translator is a traitor. And rightly so.

yakshaver said...

Partly agree with Rubyfire but...hmm... I dunno... I guess I like the elitism of reading the orignal versions. Plus, just translating the Bible into current everyday English, did not make it more popular in the English speaking world.
Then again, any translation from, say French/Swahili/Italian, will have the effect of moving away to some degree from the original. "Traduttore e tradittore" say the Italians (Tranlsators are traitors...). And they must be right. They invented pizza Marguerita and penne Arrabiatta.

feva said...

I was sure someone would think of that argument :) So does that mean i can't look down at people who read the 'idiot's guide to tolstoy' until i've read it in russian?

Rubyfire writes said...

правильный Eva ;)

Sam said...

Pure and utter sacrilege. Poor Enid must be turning in her grave... From a very sad and long standing Enid Blyton fan :(