Opinion

Politically correct “Famous Five” do not sell – publishers say

With politically correct “rewritten” literature, sales decrease. British and French publishers are rethinking this approach after Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” children’s books were sacrificed years ago on the “Altar of ‘Cancel Culture'”.

According to the French daily Le Figaro,  there is a rethinking among British and French publishers. In the texts of the popular “Famous Five” series (“Le Club des Cinq” in French) numerous changes were made in the 2000s, which – it was believed at the time – were conformed to the zeitgeist.

Church attendance removed from book

Metaphors have been simplified and mobile phones have been invented for the five friends. “Mother and father” were replaced by “mum and dad” in “sensitive text corrections”. Above all, according to Figaro, the texts have been “thoroughly cleansed of everything that appeared politically incorrect to the ‘homo moralizer’ of the 21st century”.

For example, in the fifth chapter of the French text of “Le Club des Cinq au bord de la mer”, published by Hachette, the scene in which the children go to holy mass is replaced by a scene in which they go to the market and take a walk, as you can read on the website of the French “Observatoire de la Christianophobie”. The passage was still there in the 2000 edition, but has since disappeared. “This example of creeping de-Christianization” is interesting. “The intention to erase any hint of Christianity is obvious,” without taking into account that the British writer Enid Blyton once granted the license to publish the original English text, according to http://www.christianophobie.fr.

Shortened versions without any substance

But this “Marketing 2.0 of the Cancel Culture brand”, which was supposed to boost sales of Blyton’s books did not work according to Figaro. Years after these “popularizing” decisions, the French publisher “Hachette” decided to “stop the shortened versions because they lacked any substance”.

Shortly before, this financial reason had led to the same results due to declining sales in Great Britain. In the early 2010s, Anne McNeil, head of the children’s books section of the English publisher Hodder said that “a simplification of the language would enable children to better participate in the investigation of the Famous Five canon”. After six years of disappointing sales, however, she had to “painfully realize that the grammatical leveling and the simplified spelling ‘did not work'”. Hodder sells more than half a million copies of the Famous Five books annually.

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