Sunday, December 20, 2009

Enid Blyton: The Girl Who Never Grew Up

Enid Blyton was recently selected as one of the most beloved writers of all tie. A J. K. Rowling of her day, she wrote nearly 750 books in a writing career that spanned half a century. Her books have been translated into several languages, and her imagination continues to inspire generations of children all over the world. A new biopic, starring Helena Bonham Carter, seeks to complicated our understanding of Blyton by tactfully examining the universal conflict between art and mother, ambition and service.

Bonham Carter's succint portral of Blyton reveals the dual nature of the writer. On the surface, she appears to be a petite, slender and matronly woman. Her hair is neatly combed, she wears plain dowdy dresses and sensible flat shoes, and she speaks in a monotone, addressing suitable epithets to the people around her. However, in her private moments, we see a different side of her. Alone in her bedroom, she is careless about her appearance and wards off her husband. When she writers alone, her brow furrows with concentration and her face darkens. Indeed, when she is interrupted by the maid or the children, the visible sign of anger conveys a sense of bieng possessed by writing. She insists that she must be left alone in order to craft her stories and takes great measures to shut out the world. In this way, Bonham Carter sympathetically unravels a woman much like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a woman whose dual personality is compounded by the way she wrestles her own childhood demons.

While childhood is the central theme in all her works, it is one that is ironically shunned in her personal life. Blyton's childhood was an unhappy one after her beloved father left the famaily when she was still a child. But by burrowing into her work for comfort, her children's childhoods were also unhappy. Blyton did not love her children the same way she did her "fans"--other children who wrote to her and even came to her house for tea while her own daughters were admonished to the nursery. It appears that her art, and her fans, demanded more of her, occupied so much of her time, that, by not being a good mother or caring for her children, she unwittingly inflicted wounds on their own childhoods. But perhaps it is this conflict, this difficulty to grapple with childhood and its myriad forms, which infuses Blyton's works with the poignancy and reality of childhood. For in childhood are our joys and sorrows, and art, inevitably is created out of loss--even if the price of that is motherhood and service to one's own children.

7 comments:

Eni said...

Yes, I do concur. Enid Blyton's complicated childhood may have ironically contributed to her astronomical success as a children's writer, which explains why I decided to write a book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.bbotw.com).
Stephen Isabirye

美利 said...

人人都可以成為自己生命的建築師,只要有心,人人都是食神 哈哈 ....................................................

オテモヤン said...

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作弊 said...

如果相遇.你會感到相知.那麼.有一種習慣叫做陪伴;如果陪伴.你會感到珍惜.那麼.有一種甜蜜叫做存在!........................................

DHRUV said...

I think her derivation seems correct but Blyton has influenced (if not translated) an children's literature elsewhere. I could place myself as a Five Finders even though it cut across the culture. I asked my daughters if they can in Harry Potter, they said - they are his fan but cannot place themselves because he is a hero. None of the Five Finders were heroes. They were simply children!

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