On to chapters three and four this week. We’ll meet Jo-Jo/Joe now that should be interesting! The previous instalment can be read here.
My own copy of the book is a 1955 8th impression and the modern copy I’m comparing it to is a Macmillan one from 2001 (on loan from Stef).
CHAPTER THREE: TWO LETTERS AND A PLAN
In her letter to Philip, Dinah mentions that Jo-Jo is even more stupid than before. This is changed to more strange. Why he can’t be stupid I don’t know.
Jo-Jo is also described as a half-mad servant, which becomes a strange handyman.
CHAPTER FOUR: CRAGGY TOPS
Our first sight of Jo-Jo, finally! In the original this happened when Jack and Lucy-Ann saw a coloured man coming towards them. His skin was black, his teeth were very white, and he rolled his eyes in a peculiar way. In the modern edition he has instead become a strange man, his skin is lined, and his eyes darted from side to side as he looked at them.
Now, we knew Jo-Jo had become a white man, and so obviously they have had to come up with something else to say about his looks. I think it will be interesting to see if I end up with a strong impression of how he looks as a white man as the book goes on.
All references to his colour so far have been cut. His black nose becomes just a nose, and the black fellow is now simply the man. I’m not sure if I will count every time black is removed from the text. Probably not unless the text is altered in some other way – such as fellow becoming man – but I may mention each removal as I’m interested in seeing just how many times Blyton did refer to his colour. Even huge Blyton fans have questioned her frequent use of black to describe Jo-Jo.
Philip’s way of speaking to Jo-Jo changes between editions. (I’m going to call him Jo-Jo despite the fact it takes longer to type than Joe as that is his name.) In the original text he says Jo-Jo, put that trunk in the car too. It’s a clear order, fitting with Jo-Jo’s status as a servant (though knowing his temperament I’m not sure I would be brave enough to boss him about). Philip now says Joe, that trunk should go in the car too. It’s no longer an order but a request. I’m glad they didn’t take it any further though. I don’t particularly think it was a necessary change but at least they didn’t make Philip say please.
There are also a few other small changes in this chapter. Philip originally says of the many ruins along the coast; They were burnt in the battles I told you about. This, for some reason, becomes the battle. Earlier in the book when telling Jack and Lucy-Ann about Uncle Jocelyn he mentions battles, plural, having taken place along the cliffs around Craggy-Tops.
When Aunt Polly is talking about the sleeping arrangements she originally says that the girl can sleep tonight with Dinah. This gets changed to sleep with Dinah. While the first arrangement of words might be a little odd it’s clear what she means. Jack and Lucy-Ann are only to be allowed to stay one night so Lucy-Ann can spend one night in Dinah’s bed.
And finally, queer is removed and becomes strange, leading me to a small rant. The line was Jack gazed at the strange house. It was a queer place. Changing queer to strange then makes it Jack gazed at the strange house. It was a strange place. Now Blyton gets criticized for her over-use of the same words and lacking variety, yet this modern book has made several word substitutions and added the word strange five times in four chapters, in addition to the several times Blyton has used it herself. That’s hardly encouraging a wide vocabulary in children, now is it?
I’m counting that as ten changes this time. I haven’t counted Jo-Jo to Joe or the removal of queer, but I have counted the removal of black as it’s the first instance. That makes it sixteen altogether so far.
I do wish the modern edition was illustrated (even if they were awful) as I would have liked to have seen a picture of a white Joe. That leads me to an interesting question about the use of Tresilian’s illustrations in the modern editions. I know that unlike other series, the Adventure Series hasn’t had many illustrators and that the Tresilian ones have been reused quite often, but if they show a black Jo-Jo those ones must be cut?