Five on a Treasure Island – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 5

I’m sure by now these posts don’t need any real introduction. This one looks at chapters nine and ten, and continues to suggest that more action equals more editing!

Earlier posts can be found here, here, here and here.


The first change is a tiny one, more of a correction than anything. In the original we have the windows at the house referred to several times, specifically as french window twice and then french windows once and windows once.

The paperback makes it a bit more consistent with three uses of french window. I think though, all the references should be plural as french windows are, as far as I know, traditionally used in pairs or more (the illustrations certainly show a pair). I had been wondering if the first word should have been capitalised but it would seem not according to most sources I’ve checked.

Spanking is removed twice, both times becoming a much less threatening telling off. It’s interesting that though the course of the book no violence ever occurs; all the uses of spanking are purely threats or the children worrying about consequences.

Some of the charm of the original is lost next, when Julian’s excited cry, Hie, he yelled. Hie! I’ve got it! becomes plain of hi! The two aren’t even the same. Hi is a short greeting, hie is much more of an exclamation (often used when telling Tim off “hie Tim, get down!” etc.)

Very oddly Tim, don’t nibble my bathing-suit  had been changed to don’t lick me. I cannot fathom why!

Blyton has used a capital letter for the ingots, presumably to make them sound more important, but the updated version does away with these capitals. I personally don’t like the use of Capitals to make words sound Important except in a few well-done stylistic cases, so I can’t decide if I feel this one should have been left alone or not.

Another strange change, while the four children are examining the map Tim is trying to but in and see what’s going on. The narrative says but for once in a way not one of them paid attention to him originally, but that gets edited to remove the in a way. Those three words are possibly superfluous, they don’t add a great deal to our understanding of the situation, but at the same time they are utterly inoffensive that I can’t see why someone deliberately went to the trouble of removing them.

Not long after, George remarks he [Tim] can’t understand our excitement. Which in the paperback has become your excitement, which to me rather changes the meaning of her words. Until that point George had been ignoring him too, yet in the modern edition it sounds like she is shifting blame to the others alone.


Less happens in this chapter; it’s mostly talk and following my theory nicely, there are less changes, and those that are made are incredibly minor (aka petty.)

First is one that just HAS to be a mistake. Uncle Quentin originally says he gets more [money] even than I could expect for the writing of my book. In the modern edition he says more even that I could expect. I can’t see any way that could have been intentional. Than compares, more than I thought. That makes no sense to me in the context.

Again Ingots becomes ingots, and at this moment I realised something else I had failed to notice so far. Bear in mind I’m at least a hundred pages in by now and I’ve just realised that the original has used double quotation marks for speech, thoughts and highlights, whereas the paperback uses single ones for everything. Have to say I prefer the doubles, especially for speech.

A few more very minor alterations: week-end becomes weekend (can’t say I ever noticed that word ever had a hyphen before!) business man changes to businessman, and an hotel becomes a hotel.

A mixed bag there. I understand taking away the hyphen, as nobody uses that any more, it’s as obsolete as to-day and to-morrow. On saying that I’m not sure it’s necessary to remove it. I think it’s interesting to know we used to use hyphens then, like it’s interesting to see people say ‘plane ‘phone etc as they tell use these shortenings were new to them, much like the full words must have been not so long before.

Possibly going against the grain but I prefer business man to businessman, same for businesswoman and I despise businessperson/businesspeople (they look bad and they’re harder to say clearly). Honestly, who thought ramming two words like that together was a goodidea?

I do prefer a hotel to an hotel though, as the h in hotel is pronounced as a consonant. I feel the same about when the person on the news says ‘an historic’. Just NO!

And (grammar rants over now I promise!) lastly, we’ve got another in a way, this time removed from for once in a way George didn’t push it [Julian’s arm] away. 

So that was eight changes in chapter nine and six in chapter ten, bringing us to a total of, I think, 78 alterations. How many more before the end?

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8 Responses to Five on a Treasure Island – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 5

  1. Francis says:

    Thank you, Fiona – I do appreciate your careful checking of the wording on the original and updated versions – what a pity that the editors are not asked to justify their alterations. I find myself agreeing with your comments.


  2. Lin says:

    This analysis between the original and revised text of Famous Five in The Treasure Island is very good. Thumbs up!


  3. Michael says:

    To comment on a few issues raised, roughly in order:

         I don’t know about the plural vs. singular issue with the windows, but it should probably be consistent, at least – unless different windows are referred to, and some really are single, and others multiple.
         But “French” should start with an upper-case “F”, since it is derived from a proper noun. What sources said it shouldn’t be capitalized? I would discount those sources, and take their other recommendations with a grain of salt, too.
         Oh, the spanking ridiculousness again! I’ve spoken of that before, so no need to say more now.
         “Nibbling” could have been removed because it might have sexual connotations. But to whose minds it might have that, I don’t know – presumably the editors’ minds, at least.
         It’s been a while since I looked at that, because I am surprised to hear you say that Blyton used a capital “I” with “ingots”. It is incorrect to use an initial capital simply to make something sound more important, though. So if the capitals were removed, then that is one change I would approve of. But I regard it as mere copy-editing, not real revision.
         As to superfluous words – I think they can sometimes affect the pace in a subtle way, and can be justified for that – or for the rhythm of a sentence – and not necessarily because they add meaning. Whether Blyton crafted her style as subtly as that may be debatable – but I think it can be a valid use, as long as it is not over-used. If it become perceptible to a reader, and starts even slightly to sound like padding – then it has started to be over-used.
         “that” instead of “than” – just a simple misprint, I think.
         I certainly prefer double quote marks myself, and have used them all my life, and intend to continue doing so. In contexts where quotation marks and apostrophes appear in close proximity, even adjacently occasionally, they can be confused if single quote marks are used – but not if double ones are used. The double ones are also more visible, which is another bonus. I don’t understand why so many current authorities advocate preferring single ones in Australia and the U.K.; this certainly was not the case a few decades ago, in both countries. Double ones are still preferred in the U.S., which I personally side with.
         Hyphens: I tend to use them more than many people do today, but I’ve never had an issue with “businessman”. I guess I accept the merged words that were already well-established when I was learning the language; but I tend to be reluctant to accept ones that were separate or hyphenated when I was at school. I know the trend is to increasing the merging of words, but I think many today go much too far with it, and I think putting brakes on it would be a good idea – and I do that in my own writing. I basically write according to standards that (as far as I can tell) would have been considered good-quality English at the time I was at school, which I still believe to be superior to many of the styles that have come in as new since then. (You’d hate the German language if you don’t like these mergings – it’s full of them, and it’s fully a part of that language, so you often have long words with a dozen syllables and a couple of dozen letters in them, which, translated into English, would convey a whole phrase.)
         I agree about the wholesale use of “person” in certain contexts where the real intention is either “man” or “woman” – more than a whiff of political correctness about that. “Chairperson” sounds a bit ridiculous to me; and “chair” (an attempt to get away from that sort of awkwardness), just sounds like a piece of furniture is heading the meeting. Best to say “chairman” or “chairwoman” as appropriate; or if the office-holder’s sex is not known, then maybe “president” or “convenor” or “moderator”, or some other term, might be better. (I’m not sure if they all mean exactly the same or not, though.) The “he/she/man/woman/person” business is a basic problem with the English language, and I know of no general-purpose fix – just a whole series of patches that sort of suffice for individual situations. There might have been some merit in the old use of “he” to generically refer to a person of either sex – but apparently that’s not acceptable today in at least some situations. “He/she” is unacceptably clumsy and awkward, “he or she” almost as bad, especially when used more than once. Alternating between “he” and “she” is unbearable (I have seen it in print, and it’s laughable – and you end up counting the “he”s and “she”s to see if any alternation has been left out). If all else fails, using “they” seems preferable even if not strictly grammatical – but I’ve read that Shakespeare, and other great writers from various times, used it! Once I read that, I gave in on that particular point, and have used it rater than the many other clumsy solutions.
         “An hotel” – I gather that, once, the “h” *wasn’t* pronounced – so at least that is not an affectation. But if that was the usual way at the time the book was written, I see no harm in leaving it. If you must update that, then there are going to be a thousand other things you must also update – and I bet that those who attempt that don’t remain consistent, and commit some anachronisms. Best to just not start meddling in the first place, I think.


  4. Pete says:

    Fiona,don’t know if you’ve seen this three way comparison of the books editions?

    It was mentioned in “The Censorship of Enid Blyton in two of her novels”

    Click to access The_Censorship_of_Enid_Blyton_in_Two_of_her_Novels.pdf




    • fiona says:

      Good gosh no I hadn’t! I’m glad I don’t have the 2010 edition as I’d be making a blog per chapter at that rate. If I didn’t die of apoplexy upon seeing “Mum” and “Dad” in the text.


    • Michael says:

           While this article does list, and discuss, some of the changes that have been made to these books, I found the overall argument rather confusing, and ended up with no more than a vague idea of what the article was seeking to prove or demonstrate.
           I totally failed to draw any meaning from the explicitly feminist parts of the argument, and I suspect that trying to analyze Enid Blyton this deeply is a bit like straining to see faces or other objects in the clouds, and finding them once you peer hard enough and long enough – then drawing profound conclusions from details in those the faces that your own mind made up in the shapes of those clouds.


  5. chrissie777 says:

    In the US they still capitalize French, English, German etc. I’ve noticed it in English books as well as in magazines from last year.


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