Thursday, February 16, 2006

Enid Blyton: Claudine at St Claire's

My father is in the process of moving, and we were over at his flat sorting through books. I found all my old Secret Seven books - I didn't have the complete set or anything, but I have a good few. I liked the Secret Seven better than the Famous Five. Claudine at St Claire's is the only St Claire's book I've got, I kept meaning to find more, but I never did. I used to love reading Enid Blyton as a child. And later aswell - in my teens, if I was depressed and felt lonely I'd re-read one of her books and try to revert to a simpler childhood emotion. Which is false really, childhood emotions aren't simple at all, they just seem that way in retrospect.

Anyway, I re-read this one just the other day. It's terrible really, all the waffle about English honour and sound English values. It was written in 1944, but there is no mention of the war at all - unless we are to understand that this is why Claudine is in England in the first place? But then she surely couldn't talk about sending her oh-so-beautiful cushion cover home to France? Nevertheless, there is something very comforting about fictional boarding school camaraderie - especially for children like me, who were lonely and didn't feel at home at home. HPS - Harry Potter Syndrome, I suppose.

I remember feeling disappointed when I learned that Enid Blyton was a cold and distant mother. But it's not really surprising, when you read her books with an adult's eye. She's not writing about real people, she's writing about archetypes. Sometimes they change, but since she is writing the book she is always in control of their development. She must have found RL difficult to cope with.

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