kidattypewriter

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Smugged, She Smugged, We Smugged Together

So anyway, we were talking about Enid Blyton, right? Forget minor details like plot, character, scenery, costume, dialogue, exposition, timing, development and argument (so minor that Blyton reuses them in every single book she writes); where the art really comes in is in location. Allow me to demonstrate:

'Well, his father has kindly invited you all to go and stay with him at Smuggler's Top,' said Uncle Quentin.
The children were astonished.
'Smuggler's Top!' said Dick, his fancy caught by the queer name. 'What's Smuggler's Top?'
... 'I'd
love to go to Smuggler's Top,' said Dick ...
'Oh no, no!' cried everyone. 'Let's go to Smuggler's Top!'
...
Surely old George wasn't going to get in one of her moods and spoil everything! It would be fun to go to Smuggler's Top! ...
'Leave me alone,' she said. 'I want to think. How are we supposed to get to Smuggler's Top?' ...
Aunt Fanny kissed them good-bye. 'I do hope you have a nice time at Smuggler's Top,' she said ...

Their spirits rose as they thought of Sooty and his queerly-named home,
Smuggler's Top.
'Smuggler's Top! It sounds too exciting for words!' said Anne.

(Somehow I think she's lying about that one)

'On to Smuggler's Top!' said Dick, as the car started off again. 'On to Smuggler's Top. I wonder if we shall have any adventures there!'
... 'It does sound a most exciting place,' said George. 'Smuggler's Top on Castaway Hill! Only one road to it!'
'That must be Smuggler's Top, right at the summit,' said Julian, pointing.
They swept into a steep drive, and at last stopped before Smuggler's Top.

Just in case you think this is all getting a bit monotonous, Blyton really starts pulling out the stops in the next few chapters.

'Well - he seems full of secrets,' said Sooty. 'Queer people come here, and they come secretly without anyone knowing. I've seen lights shining in our tower on certain nights, but I don't know who puts them there or why. I've tried to find out, but I can't.'
'Do you think - do you think your father is a smuggler?' said Anne, suddenly.
'I don't think so,' said Sooty. 'We've got one smuggler here, and everyone knows him! ... He's as rich as can be. His name is Barling. No one else would dare to do any smuggling in Castaway, while he does it!'

This is the sort of writing that makes classics, ladies and gentlemen. You would do well to emulate it.

UPDATE! - From the Enid Blyton website:

In The Adventures of the Wishing-Chair (book1), it was written that the wishing-chair has four red wings. Then in the second book, The Wishing-Chair Again, the wing of the wishing-chair was cut off by the Slipperies. Subsequently, Chinky has a spell that makes the chair grow new wings. The colour of the new wings is green and yellow. However, in the last book, More Wishing-Chair Stories, Blyton wrote that the chair's wing was red!

A flying chair with green and yellow wings? Preposterous!

20 comments:

TimT said...

The first four quotes all came from page 25. Similar with most of the other quotes. Interestingly, if you subtract the superfluous words from the above quotes, then you will end up with approximately 20 'Smuggler's Tops', and five prepositions.

Also noteable is the number of times Blyton uses the term 'queer'. It's her favourite word. Where's Dr Freud when you need him?

nailpolishblues said...

He's at Smuggler's Top...

TimT said...

How queer!

Anonymous said...

well what i got out of those quotes was the hypnotic rhythm of it all..youve probably explained how it happens but i can really see a child getting sucked in by the mystery and the repetition and the SIMPLICITY:)

nailpolishblues said...

I suspect that was the least of his problems.

Anonymous said...

Hey, no knocking Dr Freud. It's not every chap who'd put up his hand to test the effects of cocaine on sea-sickness, and asthma, and indigestion, and spending too long on the chaise longue, and reading Sophocles, and -- you get the idea -- he self-sacrificingly sniffed his way through a lot of cocaine. And we have the temerity to suggest he wasn't a scientist! Scurrilous ingrates!

As for Freudian slips, I put one over my pillow. It helps with the interpretation of dreams.

TimT said...

Hey, hey, let's not take this too far. Being scurrilous I will admit to, but I will never be an ingrate. Let's face it, I'm just not that grate at anything, except maybe spelling.

Anonymous said...

You're right. I got carried away, but how could I not? A Freud in need is a Freud indeed.

TimT said...

He was a genius, no doubt about it, but he had a funny way of showing it. I still struggle to understand why he turned to music in his later years. But his Pink Freud albums (especially 'The Dark Side of the Loon') are still selling like hotcakes, so who knows?

Anonymous said...

I guess the psychoanalysis lark lost its lustre once "Syphilisation and Its Discontents" got such bad reviews. And, of course, if my first name were Sigmund, I wouldn't hesitate to change it to Pink.

TimT said...

I guess he'd taken more than his usual firkin of snuff on the day of writing that, judging from the chapter titles: "Sometimes a Cigar is a Sublimated Phallic Symbol Representing the Traumatically-suppresed Oedipal Desires Of Childhood", for instance.

Anonymous said...

Right. And sometimes, you've gotta suspect, it's the analyst with the pathological preoccupation, not the analysed. But for all I can read old Freud and feel like walloping him over the head with his own genital fixation (as opposed to walloping him over the head with his own genitals, which I suspect wouldn't be very pleasant, especially at this point in his decomposition), there's something utterly alluring about his accounts of how we reveal what we're not allowed to reveal and of the motivations we're not even able to admit to ourselves. I say he's worth giving a go. So to speak.

nailpolishblues said...

1) Where's my cocaine?

2) I can't believe I'm doing this but I believe that there was some kind of ointment to make the wings grow.

3) Chinky? She's a worry isn't she? I also recall there being a Fanny somewhere.

4) Thank you for making me wish that I had not, quite magnanimously, agreed that my nephew should have my Enid Blytons. Damn. I want to read them now.

TimT said...

Yes, Aunt Fanny is in The Famous Five, she appears in one of the quotes above. The first thing she usually says when 'the children' arrive at her place is 'Oh, you look so thin! I must fatten you up!'

I used to read 'The Magical Faraway Tree' as well, and in spite of what others say, 'The Secret Seven' rocks. I may also have glanced into 'The Wishing Chair'.

Steal the books back off your nephew. You have to do it now while he is puny and weak, when he's a teenager it will be too late!

Who the hell is CHINKY?

TimT said...

Cop this cover of an Enid Blyton book! It contains wrongness on so many levels! Imagine giving that to your nephew, wouldn't that just scare the crap out of him?

Anonymous said...

Good lord! It's The Ace of Spades, and his criminal "cousins" - back in town to rob some poor Church-going spinster.

I wonder how much xenophobia Enid's child readership now perpetuates (either wittingly or un-).

It's simply too horrid to think about!

TimT said...

That page I linked in turn links back to the Enid Blyton article, which gives a bit of a run down of the stereotypes found in Blyton fiction. I don't know, some of those old Empire genres of literature were exactly the opposite of xenophobic. Characters were always having adventures in the big wide world. I'm always drawn to 'adventure' fiction, which implies that the world is something to be discovered, as opposed to 'escapist' fiction, which often cloaks a misanthropic, pessimistic view of life by offering up preposterous ideals. But maybe that's just me. Anyway, Blyton toes the line between a few of these genres, she's quite ingenious.

nailpolishblues said...

The kid is pretty weird but I doubt we'll be fighting over Enid Blyton books when he's a teenager. Probably he'll be dying his hair black and be busy practising being surly. Possibly having some kind of crisis about all the pictures I have of him in fairy wings [hey, advance planning].

I think Chinky was an elf or something. Blyton's naming leaves something to be desired, doesn't it? Actually, I think she was pretty naive. I once heard a story that she had to be strongly deterred from writing a story about Noddy spending a penny - apparently she just didn't get the joke.

TimT said...

Okay, sounds like you have things well under control. "C'mon, Aunty Nails... giss the photos!!!! C'mon, you're mean!!! The guys will all laugh at me!!! C'mon, be fair!"

elsewhere said...

I see a homo-erotic of Gnid & Smuggler's Top is long overdue...actually, they've probably been done to death!

Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

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