Monday, May 22, 2006

The Famous Five - in Their own Words

I was generally reading up on Enid Blyton (I am reading The Faraway Stories at the moment) when I followed a few links, clicked a few more, and eventually stumbled across this—A story in The Guardian by Lucy Mangan (published in December, 2005) that parodies the Famous Five. The story takes off with Anne, Dick, George, and Julian discussing a story that they had read in The Guardian saying that the Famous Five are still the most popular children's books ever. Mangan cleverly shows how the each of the Famous five characters is actually a caricature — "embodiment of timeless archetypes" — and very smartly points out how the children and the situations are unreal. An informed reader can easily pick up the barbs that she makes about how the well-paced narratives of the Famous Five books, coupled with plentiful descriptions of food has kept the series going on for years.

Sample this excerpt:
"We're all awfully good at appealing to eternal childish desires for continuity, conformity," explained George. "Julian's awfully alpha male, someone for the boys to aspire to and Dick's the lesser patriarch but his authority is still reassuringly unchallenged because of the mere fact of his gender. You, Anne, as subservient helpmeet, shore up the status quo while I, with my tomboyish attitude gradually subdued over the course of the series, acknowledge the tensions inherent in the patriarchal structure while always recognising the need for their repression for the greater social good. Together, we are gathered gratefully to the unrepentantly reactionary heart of every child."

"I say, isn't that ripping!" said Dick.

The complete story here: The Famous Five - in their own words.

And here's a nugget from Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree.


niti bhan said...

Excellent! Thanks!!!

Anil P said...

Cynicism rarely had the strength to feel, and experience the strength of innocence.