From Ex- to Post-colonial, via Enid Blyton

maloryNakul Krishna reflects on the effect of reading Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series as a child:

I reckon that one way for the ex-colonial to be post-colonial is to stop letting colonialism be the only measure of our attention. The thing is not to gawp, in admiration or horror or awkwardness, at that history, but to find ways of putting it to use.

Krishna read Blyton across lines of gender as well as race and geography, and of course, history. He writes of visiting Britain later, taking all his insecurities with him, postcolonial conflicts included. He writes of finding the southeast coast where the Malory Towers books are set.

This Britain I could live with, only half-tamed, surrounded by a sea of greater antiquity than any empire.

I too read Blyton avidly as a child. I had my moment of disillusionment. I left her behind. Later, visiting England, I found myself connecting with places from Beatrix Potter and Jane Austen rather than Blyton. I think I put away the slight discomfort that Blyton still arouses in me. Still, Krishna’s essay reminded me of why I’d loved those books in the first place.

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