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The Three Golliwogs

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The Three Golliwogs

Postby tam » 29 Aug 2007, 02:04

Hello,
I hope you can help me. A year or so ago, I purchased The Three Golliwogs on-line. I remembered reading it as a child in the 70s, and thought it would bring back fond memories. When I began reading, I was shocked to see the name of one of the Golliwogs. I don't want to write the name, as it is extremely offensive. The name was obviously changed in later editions, and I must have read a later edition as a child because I knew at a very young age not to ever use that word.
What do I do with this book? Right now it is wrapped up and hidden away. I guess I look at it as a piece of history. I was advised by someone else to throw it away. What do you think?
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 29 Aug 2007, 07:46

Personally I would keep it as a piece of history, but of course it's up to you. At the time the book was written, that particular word was in common use as the name of black pets or toys and was not considered offensive - it simply denoted the colour black. Variations of that word are still in use as place names around the world.

Surprisingly, one of the dogs retained that name in the Galliano's Circus books up to the mid-1990s at least!

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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Comerscroft » 29 Aug 2007, 08:00

I should keep it as a part of history.

Interestingly, the 'Dambusters' 1954 film which has been digitally enhanced, is being re-screened, and the dog is also called 'N'. His name has NOT been edited in the revised version as they want to keep the story as true to life as possible.
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Mollybob » 29 Aug 2007, 08:26

I think we have discussed this before. I also own a copy with the original names and intend to keep it. I realise that the names can be offensive today, but it has to be seen in the context of the period when it was written.
This particular book has been updated because it is specifically targeted at children, whereas adult literature has generally not undergone the same changes (although the title of a book by Agatha Christie does spring to mind). Perhaps the original text could also be used to explain to children about progress that has been made in this area since the book was written. I think it's important to note that the golliwogs are not negative characters in this book. They are mischievous and fun, and are portrayed in a positive light overall. This should make it clear that the names are not meant to be offensive in this instance.
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Moonraker » 29 Aug 2007, 12:34

My younger son has just bought Tintin au Congo. It has not been published in English until now. It is pretty racist in parts, and some bookshops have even moved it to the Adult Fiction section!

However, it has a red wrapper round it which makes the following statement.

An essential volume for collectors

Tintin au Congo was first published in book form in French in 1931......includes a fascinating foreward....placing it in its historical context.

"In his portrayal of the Belgian Congo, the young Hege reflects the colonial attitudes of the time...he depicted the African people according to the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period - an interpretation that some of today's readers may find offensive."


Surely that is the way to overcome the problem?
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Robert Houghton » 29 Aug 2007, 12:43

I would definately keep the book. I actually bought an original copy just last year to add to my collection as i only had the 'Dean' edition, which has the altered names. I think it should be looked on in context. We might find the names offensive today, but they were looked on as acceptable at the time the book was written, as Anita says.

The thing I find interesting is that some people nowadays would find the whole book offensive, even with the changed names. The book is not published at all in its original form nowadays, or with golliwogs as its central characters ( I believe in even later editions they are now pixies or elves).

My personal favourite edition of this book is the 'Dean' edition I read as a child. The names are changed in this to Wiggie, Waggie and Wollie. I love the illustrations in this edition by Rene Cloke.

The worst appearence of the three golliwogs, I think, is in the Enid blyton play 'Noddy in Toyland' in which they sing a song about themselves all looking the same. It was intended as funny, but nowadays seems more insulting than amusing.

So dont throw the book away, but keep it as a reminder of less tolerent times - and buy the 'Dean' edition if you want to enjoy reading the stories you remember! 8)
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Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby tix » 29 Aug 2007, 13:32

I believe that Enid Blyton would turn in her grave if she read this forum and noticed the political correctness that suddenly raised its head. Political Correctness on an Enid Blyton message board! My Gasted is absolutely Flabbered! Why on earth would a book need to be hidden or thrown out because it had the word nigger in it? I’m so astonished that I can’t really believe what I read in the first entry. I would need proof that the book in question is hidden away and that someone advised the forum-member to throw it out. Anyway, don’t discard it – give it to me and I’ll look after it for you provided you give me permission to take it out and have a read every now and again.

AB is absolutely right, as she usually is – “at the time the book was written, that particular word was in common use as the name of black pets or toys.” I like it because the word brings to mind so many of the books I read in my childhood and the day I cannot relive the history by reading my old Enid Blytons and the wonderful annuals such as “Rainbow” and “Chick’s Own” is the day my world will cease. I can also remember a little rhyme we sang about “catching a nigger by the toe” which we sang ceaselessly and there were many little black kittens called Nigger which graced the pages of books we had in the nursery.

The forum entry could be a little joke of course and if it is I’ve been taken in hook, line, and sinker!
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Ming » 29 Aug 2007, 13:37

Tam, if I were you I would never throw any of my books away - I may lock them up if I lose interest, but throwing away? Deffo not! :)

The book reflected the time it was written in, and is a piece of history. If you throw it away now you will regret it later - as these books are rare to find, and often very expensive.

However, if you are willing to throw it out, mail it to me! :lol: :wink:
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 29 Aug 2007, 15:08

[Tiq:] The forum entry could be a little joke of course and if it is I’ve been taken in hook, line, and sinker!


I'm sure Tam was asking the question in all seriousness. :) If a person hasn't read Enid Blyton or similar books for a while, some of the mores of British society of the early - mid twentieth century can come as a bit of a shock. I believe Tam lives in America and it's possible that "nigger" has been an offensive term for longer there, and that people are more sensitive to the word because of the history and politics of the USA.

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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Moonraker » 29 Aug 2007, 16:00

It has never seemed offensive to me, but I can see how younger people might find it so to-day.

There used to be a phrase, Nigger in the Woodpile. A hard taskmaster would be referred to as a Nigger-driver. There was the Agatha Christie book, Ten Little Niggers, which was changed twice, as it became offensive to call people Indians!

I find it slightly ironic that our general standards of language seem to be on a fast-track downward slope. Foul and obscene language is heard on television in almost every programme aired after 9 pm. Graphic sexual discussions take place on many late night shows (and no, I don't watch them!).

Yet a simple word such as nigger is now totally taboo. I was always led to believe that it was derived from the river Niger, itself the stem of the name Nigeria. negro, negroid and the French word for black, noir, all stem from this word.

Thanks, tiq, for some plain, old-fashioned common sense rhetoric.
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby tam » 29 Aug 2007, 17:12

My question is not a joke. I always intended to keep the book, and I do look at it in it's place in history. It actually never dawned on me to discard the book until I took a trip to an African American Museum. I was talking to a curator and some educators. It was their opinion that it should be thrown away. I didn't and don't intend to, particularly after hearing your opinions. You know more about Enid Blyton than the curator of the museum. The curator is an expert in the field of African American artifacts.
I didn't mean to offend or bombard anyone with political correctness. I have a simple rule...if something is offensive to a culture or race, I don't do it/use it/say it. That word sparks huge emotions in the United States.
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Lucky Star » 29 Aug 2007, 17:26

While I can understand the reasons why the word is not in use today I have to agree that there are far more offensive terms and saying s in general use today. I also remember the nursery rhyme which went;

eeny meeny miny mo
catch a nigger by the toe
if he squeals let him go
eeny meeny miny mo.


We used it as a way of picking a person, the speaker would point his/her finger at a different person with each word and whoever was being pointed at on the final mo was the chosen one. Innocent fun thats all and it was acceptable in those days as it was when Enid Blyton wrote the book. Racial and/or religious sensitivity has reached silly levels these days. The do-gooders who would ban Golly and Tintin au Congo are actually only drawing attention to the very words they want to banish.

It is correct to edit the word out of modern editions. I'm glad you're going to keep the book Tam as this is probably an old volume which has given much pleasure in its day. Its understandable that an African-American would advise you to throw it away but one cannot just throw away history.
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Ming » 29 Aug 2007, 17:29

In modern children's rhyme books, the rhyme has changed to

Eena meena mina mo
Catch a baby by his toe
If he screams let him go
Eena meena mina mo.


I really don't see any point in changing eeny to eena! :roll: :roll:
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Lucky Star » 29 Aug 2007, 17:33

Some people just have to change everything. :lol:
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Re: The Three Golliwogs

Postby Ming » 29 Aug 2007, 17:36

I suppose they don't have anything better to do. :roll: :lol:
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