The Island of Adventure – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition?


I finished comparing The Secret Island a few weeks ago and have decided to do another Island based story, The Island of Adventure. I’m anticipating quite a lot of changes around the character of Jo-Jo/Joe and I’m quite looking forward to seeing just how much has been altered.

My own copy of the book is a 1955 8th impression and my modern copy is a Macmillan one from 2001 (on loan from Stef).


CHAPTER ONE: THE BEGINNING OF THINGS

Naturally, as we have seen with all the other titles I’ve looked at, queer is removed from the text. In this first instance it is replaced with odd.

The description of Kiki gets changed, probably as there is no parrot that is scarlet and grey with a big crest on its head. I think there’s possibly a cockatoo or other bird like that though. On the colour dustjackets Stuart Tresilian illustrates Kiki as white and yellow which is how she is described in the new text – A white parrot with a yellow crest on its head.

While I’m willing to admit Blyton may had made an error in describing Kiki I don’t see why there can’t be a scarlet and grey parrot in her fictional world.

Dinah still has quick impatience and a quarrelsome nature in the modern edition, but instead of Philip thinking that she might upset things a bit he thinks that it might not be so peaceful. I’m not sure why that had to change. Either way he implies that Dinah being there would cause trouble.


CHAPTER TWO: MAKING FRIENDS

This chapter also had one use of queer which then became strange.

As I thought, Jo-Jo has become Joe. At this early stage he has only been briefly described by Philip and hasn’t appeared in person, so I’m sure there will be more changes once we meet him. He is described as a handyman servant in the original text and this has been changed to a handyman helper. While it’s true that in Britain at least people don’t have servants any more, even if they do employ staff, this book is so firmly set in a past age that it seems silly to update things like that. How many modern houses require you to carry buckets of water to a tin bath for example?

The other change is equally as pointless I think. It’s said that Jack had never had a boy for a friend before. That becomes a real friend before. Why? They didn’t write boy friend which could be mistaken for boyfriend. He’s had a girl for a friend perhaps, if you include Lucy-Ann certainly, but not a boy.


That’s not all that many changes so far then. Six, between the two chapters. I’m anticipating a lot more once we get to Craggy-Tops and meet Jo-Jo/Joe though thankfully I won’t be counting every time his name is changed.

Sadly the Macmillan hardback isn’t illustrated so I won’t be able to compare the illustrations. As far as I know most of the various reprinted editions use the Stuart Tresilian illustrations anyway , but it can be interesting to look at whether or not they’ve used them all, whether they’ve resized them and if the new text matches the pictures. But never mind, it gives me a little bit less work to do in the end!

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4 Responses to The Island of Adventure – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition?

  1. chrissie777 says:

    On my very first trip to England in May 1981 I bought a set of 8 new Macmillan Adventure hardbacks which were published in 1979 (I still have the bill from Foyle’s in London for £ 30,25 for all 8 volumes from 5/5/81) and I do believe that they have the original text. This 1979 volume has 45 illustrations with the cover illustration included. My old German hardback copy has only 22 of the Tresilian illustrations. I was thrilled when I returned from England and compared the illustrations between the British and the German hardbacks and discovered that I now have a lot more illustrations :).

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  2. Wendy Brydge says:

    Wow, I’m ashamed to admit this, but I never really thought about how the actual text would change from edition to edition. Feels kind of sacrilegious. It’s like… would you change facts and details about history because now some might find it offensive? Of course not. Books are just documented history — whether factual or fictitious. They represent the thoughts, attitudes, events and preferences of a specific time in the past. I don’t think they should be “updated”, or made politically correct. Can you imagine the uproar if suddenly they started painting over sections of Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings to make them more “acceptable”? O_o And as you say, why can’t a parrot be red and grey in Blyton’s made-up world? All these changes are kind of taking the fun of it.

    Would love to see them preserve the original cover art too. I’m not a fan of updated illustration either!

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  3. Francis says:

    I would hate to read the updated version but you are doing a valuable service by highlighting the changes Fiona.

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