Monday, 10 October 2016

Extraordinary determination leads to extraordinary results

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The work of the British writer Enid Blyton (1897-1968) is one of the great literary achievements of the 20th century. She wrote mainly for children and produced an average of 2 books per month during four decades.

Her writings have been translated all around the world. Irrespective of your cultural background, chances are that you have read one of her Famous Five stories, which recount the adventures of 4 children and a dog.
 

Massive output

Despite the fact that some literary commentators show little appreciation for Blyton's work, her overwhelming popularity leaves little room for debate. Her readers, children in dozens of countries, adore her books. In our days, sales of her work continue to reach enormous figures, even though her stories play in a world without mobile phones and internet.

Most of Blyton's tales are set in an environment of rigid social classes and traditions, where people have pudding for lunch and tea in the afternoon. Her own life was relatively quiet, far from the ways and fashions of modern media celebrities.

The only unusual event, considering the times, is that she divorced her first husband whom she had married when she was 27 years old. At 46, she entered a second marriage that turned out to be very happy. She continued her massive literary output during the next decades, played tennis and golf regularly, and died at 71, shortly after her second husband.


Adamant determination

What is remarkable of Enid Blyton's life is, of course, her adamant determination to produce volume after volume at a very high speed. All her books were written at a time when word processors did not yet exist. The average novel for adults has about 90.000 words; in comparison, children novels tend to be short, less than 40.000 words. Nonetheless, Blyton's ability to produce hundreds of finished manuscripts during her lifetime is truly extraordinary.

While tradition and routine filled a good part of Enid Blyton's life, her children books embody the virtues of independence and entrepreneurship to an extent that few writers have equalled. In her stories, kids explore the world on their own and girls face danger with incredible courage.


Blyton's under-age heroes make plans to achieve their goals, learn to deal effectively with adverse circumstances, overcome difficulties, and finally triumph. Even if some of her plots are slow, most of her main characters show relentless determination.

Young readers around the world may feel little admiration for the traditional English society that she depicts, but this aspect is immaterial to the success of her books. Blyton's skill consists of placing wonderful protagonists in constrained settings. She is a master at portraying boys' and girls' entrepreneurship against colourless backgrounds.

Independent thinking


In her stories, Blyton uses culture, not as a summation of uncontested expectations, but as the ultimate literary ploy. Tradition is the giant to be fooled, the ancient clock that ticks aimlessly forward, the spider web that fills an uninhabited cave.

Meaningless routines do not make a world that children want to inhabit, nor any discerning adult for that matter. Enid Blyton's message to every young reader is that he should not base his decisions on questionable traditions; that he should think for himself and check things twice; that he should do what is right, which is not necessarily what people expect him to do.

Is it then a surprise that her books continue to delight millions of boys and girls around the world? As soon as a kid reads a volume of the Famous Five, he is hooked and won't stop until he gets hold of the complete series. Blyton's work originates the same fascination in young girls, who constitute 50% of the protagonists of her novels.


Inspiration and courage

The conclusion is unmistakable: readers, especially children, love stories whose main characters show purpose and resourcefulness, independence and entrepreneurship. Let me also underline that Enid Blyton's books are remarkably non-violent. Physical aggression rarely plays a role in her stories, which focus more on the development of courage and self-reliance.

Will you follow the same principles the next time that you have to make an important decision? Let yourself be inspired by Blyton's stories and learn from her characters how to face life courageously. This is what draws children to her books, teenagers to video games, and adults to philosophy.


In fiction, we seek inspiration; in ethical ideals, validation. Blyton's stories awake moral reasoning in children, who understand the meaning without realizing the abstraction. As children turn into adults, independent thinking and entrepreneurship are qualities to be cultivated further.

Blyton's tales have happy ends, where virtue triumphs over nastiness and deceit. Her characters, in particular the Famous Five, have helped millions of boys and girls around the world internalize ethical values. Children stories, however, are insufficient to provide guidance to run our lives effectively. That task belongs to philosophy, from which the best is still to come.


[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by geodesic under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]


For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books
 

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