Good times, bad times: Blyton, Kipling through the prism of racism – News


A renewed – and critical – look is cast on literary works in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and other current social norms

Economist John Maynard Keynes once said that “When the facts change, I change my mind.” In the case of iconic writers such as Enid Blyton (1897-1968) and Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), it is times that have changed, prompting a renewed look at their work in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. (BLM). . Some of Blyton’s books have long drawn criticism of social snobbery, racism, and sexism, while Kipling has drawn attention to his political views which many see as racist and imperialist. Revisiting the work and views of writers and other historical figures is part of a larger scrutiny sparked by the BLM movement, which has targeted statues of colonial administrators and others across Britain and elsewhere in 2020.

English Heritage, the organization responsible for the London Blue Plaques Scheme, is the latest to review and revise certain aspects of its work. Last year, it launched an online registration update program for each blue plaque recipient, aimed at providing a more complete picture of each person’s life, including aspects that some may find. disturbing. A blue plaque in Blyton was installed in 1997 at his Chessington home where the children’s author lived between 1920 and 1924.

The organization revised its Blyton entry online, including a reference to its work being criticized for its racism. He also noted that in 2016, the Royal Mint decided not to commemorate Blyton on a 50 pence coin due to concerns about some of his alleged views.

The revised entry on Blyton reads: “Both during his lifetime and afterwards, Blyton’s work has been criticized for various aspects of its content. Its stereotypical plots and deliberate use of plain language angered some educators. Others objected to what they saw as the social snobbery, racism and sexism embedded in Blyton’s plots. In 1960, publisher Macmillan refused to publish his story The Mystery That Never Existed for what he called his “weak but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia.” The book, however, was later published by William Collins. In recent years, references to “golliwogs” in Blyton’s stories have been replaced by goblins. To those who objected to elements of his work, Blyton replied that he was not interested in the opinion of any reviewer over the age of 12 … “

Written in another era, many books and opinions by several authors potentially violate current standards. Charles Dickens, for example, expressed strong views against the “Hindu” nobility in the context of the 1857 uprising in colonial India in a letter of the same year.

Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, also had a plaque outside his home in Charing Cross, where he had settled after returning from India in 1889. English Heritage revised his entry with a more detailed account of the criticism. .

It reads: “Today, Kipling’s political views, expressed through his then popular writings, have been widely criticized for their racist and imperialist sentiments. Kipling believed in British superiority over the peoples of the colonized nations and he became known as the “Poet of the Empire”. Works such as The White Man’s Burden (1899), with its offensive description of “sullen new peoples, half devil and half child,” sought to portray imperialism as a mission of civilization. During World War I, the British government used Kipling’s popularity for propaganda purposes, asking him to write pamphlets and stories that glorified war and the British military. Kipling readily accepts it … After the war and with the decline of the British Empire, Kipling’s writings and values ​​are perceived as out of step with the times. While he continued to write until the early 1930s, his production and success waned. George Orwell found Kipling’s attitude to cases of colonial brutality “morally callous and aesthetically disgusting,” but admitted the importance of his work to him in his young life. “



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