Saturday, January 31, 2009

To Ms. Blyton: The Lady who made me Write

The very first books I remember reading,after ruminating over fairy tales,were those by Enid Blyton.She was something like the J.K. Rowling for people who were children in the early nineties and before.While she brought out the silent sleuth in some of my friends,she brought out the writer in me.It was at the tender age of nine that I began writing what was intended to be my first book;a tale about a boarding school inspired by Ms. Blyton's 'Malory Towers' series.

Ms. Blyton's books had the quintessential quality of being unmistakably British.Little boys and tomboyish girls had faces covered with freckles and dainty pretty things were always pale English roses.Culinary feasts were described to the last delectable detail.There were always tables laden with sardines,potted meat,pies,scones,cucumber sandwiches and the works.Naughty boys always forgot to wash their 'grubby hands' and conceited girls brushed their hair till it shone.Enid Blyton,unlike several other writers,catered to a wide age group.It is quite rare to find someone who writes with equal panache for a five year old child as she does for an adolescent of twelve.Her characters climbed enchanted trees,flew around the world in chairs with wings,solved mysteries that left Scotland Yard red in the face,played tricks on each other in boarding school,suffered from pangs of guilt and envy and learned from their mistakes.Through her books she covered a gamut of experiences that every child either has or dreams of having.

One might accuse her of being a tad misconstrued and perhaps almost puritan in some of her views.Americans are described as shallow,narcissistic characters who need a little English 'sensibility' to be brought down to earth. In her books the perfect girl is one who wears no makeup,studies her lessons,never questions authority,shows no interest whatsoever in the opposite sex and is perpetually altruistic (we're talking about girls who are on the threshold of adulthood and about to enter college).She never ventured towards darker subjects like abject self doubt and the trials of conscience that plague angst ridden teenagers.It is unclear whether her female protagonists grow up to be pioneers or prefer to turn into Stepford wives.

Nevertheless,her work had this urging and inspiring quality that can goad a young girl into thinking,'What if I wrote like that?'.When we were children we saw ourselves as invincible creatures with an indomitable talent.Ms. Blyton helped fuel that presumption to the fullest extent.As a child I never moaned over the implications of my work,its desired impact on the present generation and its venerable quality for posterity.I simply wanted to write because Ms. Blyton showed me that she and I had something in common; we both loved telling stories.


ankita said...

The perfect girl description made me think of George.

La Diva! said...

Well George wasn't on the verge of adulthood. I was referring to Daryl and Sally from 'Malory Towers'.