‘Racist, xenophobic, lacking in literary merit.’ The UK based charity English Heritage did not mince words while trashing one of the world’s favourite authors for children across generations. Fans like me whose sheltered childhood she spiced up with her tales of faraway lands where kids of my age could solve mysteries and get applauded by grown ups including police high ups like Inspector Jenks , where picnics in sunlit meadows with carrot cake and ginger beer were commonplace , where school life meant midnight feasts and summer holidays could be spent in storm swept lighthouses, were up in arms . When actress Pooja Bhatt complained ‘there goes my childhood…’it resonated with people like us who grew up with friends like the Famous Five , The Secret Seven and the girls of Malory Towers .
The outrage over this debunking of Blyton’s craft will probably die down and Blyton will live on the bookshelves of the generations that loved her . But she is not the only author to have faced the righteous indignation of this woke breed of cancel culture specialists who are finding fault with the idyllic world of Wodehouse for its ‘feudal misogynist biases, Margaret Mitchell for whitewashing the horrors of slavery in her magnum opus Gone With The Wind, even Agatha Christie and poor old Jane Austen for perpetuating restrictive social norms of their times and hurting the sensibilities of the politically evolved and socially sensitized reader of today. Just one minor point is missed out in the cacophony of this intellectual angst- how would these writers have imagined that they were hurting sentiments considering the fact that they lived in a different age when people’s collective psyche was differently programmed.
For god’s sake they lived their social and political reality and could not time travel into a future which negated many of these norms, could they ? Should this take away from the fact that within those parameters they spun some really good yarns ? But what to me seems to be the real reason why authors like Blyton and Wodehouse have endured over decades and will endure over many more is the fact that they their stories reiterate that one truth that even this current woke generation cannot be averse to ,especially in these troubled times, the fact that kindness and humour ,determination and integrity, patience and love do ultimately empower us ordinary mortals to take on life’s battles with renewed energy after a swig of ginger beer with the Famous Five or a drive through the Blandings grounds with Bertie Wooster. In these days when grief and misery and uncertainty hover overhead like vultures about to strike anytime, we keep going back to those dusty old paperbacks for at least there they all ultimately live happily ever after. It does help to cope a little better , I can assure you.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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