Five on a Treasure Island – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 6

So as promised here is the next two chapters of Five on a Treasure Island, compared to note any textual changes between them. (In case you’re just joining us, I’m comparing a 1965 17th impression to a 1997 paperback.)

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


I’ll start with the sort of changes we’ve seen a lot of already.

There’s only one use of queer in this chapter and it becomes odd instead. Three whilsts become whiles, and Julian’s clean shorts become clean jeans. Also, hie Tim! is now hi Tim! (last time it was changed to hey Tim!)

The first new alteration I spotted is in George’s long internal monologue. She thinks I wish I was like them. Or in the modern copy, she wishes she were like them. Quite a petty little change, I’m not sure if one is technically more correct than the other but I didn’t see much wrong with was in the first place.

Another petty change is made later to one of Julian’s pieces of dialogue. Originally he says we must find out exactly under what spot the entrances to the dungeons are, but by 1997 it has become under which spot. Again it seems pointless to change one little word in the sentence like that when it still says the same thing.

The last change I spotted is clearly a typing error (at least I hope so.) I can’t imagine what that is, said Julian, puzzled, has become I can imagine, which makes no sense.


Again, starting with familiar alterations the three queers become funny, strange and peculiar in that order, and queerest becomes strangest.

After three hours hard work gets an apostrophe added, so it becomes three hours’. I see that written a lot – in fact if you write it in Word without the apostrophe you get the blue squiggly line under it that implies it might be a grammatical error (on that note, how does the blue differentiate from the green in Word? Red is misspellings, green is grammar, so what’s blue exactly?) Not that I trust Word implicitly, it keeps wanting me to write “Its fine,” in dialogue and other foolish things. Anyway, I actually don’t like the apostrophe in those uses. It implies the work belongs to the three hours, when really it’s saying three hours of work. Unless it signifies the missing of, as it would signify the missing o in don’t.Either way it seems to be grammatically correct these days so I probably should just accept it.

I’m not sure about the next alteration. Rings are only let into stones that need to be moved seems like an all right sentence to me. You let a bucket down into water, so in the same way you could probably let a ring into a stone. Anyway, it’s now been changed to set into stones which might make more sense. Maybe.

Tim no longer loses his foot-hold, instead he loses his footing. Foot-hold seems fine and quite clear in meaning to me.

Finally, there’s a bit of editing to the various echoes that occur in the dungeons. I’m not going to type the whole lines out but essentially Blyton uses a mix of capitals and small letters in her echoes (along the lines of “it’s an echo, it’s an ECHO, IT’S AN ECHO etc) but in the paperback all echoes are all in caps. I think Blyton gives a better impression of an echo, as they do change slightly as they bounce around.

On a side note, referring back to the last post (I think) I made where I commented on weird being used, it’s actually in this chapter. And it still looks odd and distinctly un-Blytonish to me despite the fact I’ve read this book countless times. I suppose before I’ve always gotten so swept away in the excitement of reading that I haven’t taken the time to notice every little word.

So that’s another seventeen changes, and if my counting is about right, we’re up to 95 alterations. Nearly at the one hundred mark! (I’m aware my count is in not very accurate as I’ve counted every instance of queer being changed but only the first time to-morrow became tomorrow etc.)

The story’s getting to a quite thrilling part now, and I’ll have chapters 13 and 14 done over the next two weeks.

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8 Responses to Five on a Treasure Island – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 6

  1. Nigel says:

    Not sure if “gotten” and “alright” would be seen in a Blyton! 😉


  2. Francis says:

    This is such a valuable survey, Fiona. I find it fascinating and horrifying in equal parts.
    Keep up the good work!


  3. Cathy says:

    Another really interesting read today! 🙂

    I must say I don’t like the changing of “Hie, Tim!” to “Hi, Tim!” – ‘hie’ is an exclamation, not a greeting, so saying hi to Tim sounds as if they are greeting him, not exclaiming at him.

    I found the change of George’s monologue interesting.To be honest, I think that the text in the modern version sounds more old-fashioned than the original – “I wish I were like them.” sounds very much like how they would have spoken back then, whereas “I wish I was like them.” sounds more modern!

    The same with Julian’s “under which stone” – the ‘which’ sounds more old fashioned than the ‘what’ in my opinion!

    I agree about the echoes – I have always liked the way that Enid describes echoes with different cases of letters, as echoes do indeed change in volume and intensity – but to put them all in capital letters suggests hugely loud echoes that stay hugely loud and don’t fluctuate.

    Enjoyed reading this today! 🙂


  4. Michael says:

         Hmmmm… sorry, Fiona, but this time I have to disagree with a couple of points you made.
         “After three hours hard work” vs. “After three hours’ hard work”: the apostrophe is definitely required. It doesn’t matter whether the hard work “belongs” to the three hours or not – what matters is that, grammatically, it is the possessive or genitive case. In English, at least, the possessive case does have uses beyond actual possession, despite its name, and despite the fact that indicating possession is by far the commonest use. I find omitting the apostrophe a very bad clanger here, in fact.
         If this is not the possessive case, then what relationship (grammatically) is there between the three hours and the hard work? There is no clear grammatical relationship other than that, and it just makes the sentence rather sloppy. Yes, I know the meaning is obvious – but I’m talking about the grammatical structure.
         You wonder whether it signifies the missing “of” in “three hours of hard work”. Yet I have never heard or read the slightest hint that apostrophes ever do have this meaning.
         So I do agree with that change.
         The other thing is “alright” (where you disagreed with Nigel’s comment on it). Again, I would consider this wrong – it must be “all right” – two Ls, two words. (What part of speech is “alright”? A bit like “thankyou” (one word), which isn’t anything in particular.)
         “I wish I was like them” being changed to “I wish I were like them”: for once, I actually agree with the change. It’s the subjunctive mood, so “were” is required here, strictly speaking. Enid Blyton (or her editor) was incorrect on that one. Still, in fiction, you can portray characters speaking or thinking within less-than-perfect grammar. So I guess it can be justified if it’s in dialogue.
         Apart from those, I agree with most of the other points you make out. And changing the dress to jeans is just ridiculous.

    Regards, Michael.


  5. Michael says:

         Hmmm… these sources give only qualified approval, and for once I have to disagree with the Oxford source (not a common thing for me to do!), since I don’t even agree with even qualified support; “alright”, in any context, just screams “wrong, wrong, wrong” to me. Even if some newer version of an expression like this *may* be acceptable, I think it’s always best to play safe if there is an exactly equivalent older usage that is definitely acceptable in any situation.
         I’ve never encountered that distinction of meaning you point to, Fiona, and I’m not even sure if the two types of usage you cite are entirely different anyway – they are both saying that something is correct or acceptable, and I don’t quite see the difference.
         Anyway, that’s the way I see it; and, in the Blyton context, I’m sure Enid Blyton would have seen it much the same way.


  6. Michael says:

         Actually (belatedly, a minute after I sent the previous post), I would *not* use “all right” to signify that I got all answers in a test correct (i.e., “all right” signifying “all answers were right”). That does not (to me, at least) convey that at all, but simply that the overall results were all right (what you used “alright” to cover). To my mind, to convey that literally all the answers were right, or correct, it would be necessary to say just that: “All the answers were correct”.


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