Thursday, 2 July 2009

Bowdlerised Blyton

I'm reading Claudine at St Clare's and came across this exchange:

"If I wasn't in the fourth form I'd give you the biggest scolding you've ever had in your life, Angela. A good scolding would be the best thing you could have."

"Nobody has ever raised their voice to me in my life."

What a rubbish threat, especially from Carlotta The Wild Ex-Circus Girl. And one that doesn't even make sense; what, fourth-formers are too old to scold someone? Do the prefects and teachers at St Clare's waft along the corridors smiling serenely at the misbehaving youngsters? It's such a jarring passage that I decided it must have been changed, and chased down an (almost unreadable) online copy to check -

"If I wasn't in the fourth form I'd give you the hardest spanking you've ever had in your life, Angela. A good spanking would be the best thing you could have."

"Nobody has ever laid a finger on me in my life."

That's more like it! It's a pain to have to stop reading until I can find a copy that hasn't been fiddled with; I understand getting rid of the blatant racism in Blyton's books, and I can reluctantly concede that having two main characters called Dick and Fanny, or sentences like '"I do feel queer!" Julian ejaculated' add unintentional hilarity to proceedings - though I'd say that's the whole point of reading older kids' stories - but modernising pre-decimal currency or carefully deleting any reference to spanking seems a bit much. The latter must get a bit ridiculous in books where Blyton's somewhat alarming enthusiasm for people getting spanked comes to the fore. Dame Slap from the Faraway Tree series is gone, for a start. (And having checked, it seems she's been rebranded as Dame Snap. The children have to face the dire threat of her... telling them off. It just doesn't work, does it?)

I had a quick look through the ebook to see if anything else has been changed, and lo and behold; another scene with Carlotta threatening to spank Angela (I'm only on chapter five, and already this is a promising theme) has been changed to her threatening to throttle her. Hmm. So it's not the violence that's the problem, it's specifically spanking? This is the problem with going mad on the bowdlerising; when people realise they have to wonder what else you might have cut, and why, and make up a version that's far pervier than the reality. Now I've got to track down an original copy of this book to find out if the latter half morphs into Lesbian Spank Inferno at St Clare's...

1 comment:

  1. *smirk*
    I refuse on principle to buy new editions of Enid Blyton books for this reason. I'd rather buy old, second-hand ones, even if they fall apart in my hands.