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Stories and Values 4 June 2007

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Ponderings.
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I have an aversion to Enid Blyton. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. I have never knowlingly as a child read any of her stories, nor had them read to me. They seemed pretty old fashioned when I was growing up. Biggles, yes. And if I could get them all cheap I would (and I mean cheap!) But not Enid Blyton.

Nevertheless when LM is due a bedtime story it’s hard to refuse her choices, unless they are obviously books way to young for her. We have plenty of hand-downs, including the wonderfully illustrated Ladybird Books I remember as a child, as well as plenty of things we have not bought. Which explains how I came across The China Rabbit. If the copyright dates are to be believed its from 1923.

It’s a little twee – a story set in the nursery about the antics of the toys and what happens when an imp appears out of a mousehole and comes to abduct the talking-doll. Despite the best efforts of sailor to protect her the only way the imp is defeated is when the China Rabbit tells sailor to throw him at the imp. From the mantlepiece. With the inevitable consequences. The villain is defeated not by strength but by sacrifice. There’s restorative justice too, since the imp happens to have some magical glue and is not released until he has restored the thousands of tiny pieces of china back into place and returned the rabbit to life.

It just struck me that I haven’t read any similar stories to LM at all. In 5 years. Fun stories. Enjoyable stories. Lots of them. Plenty of valuable stuff about sharing. Stuff about cunning defeating bad and naughty people. But nothing about sacrifice, about elevating others needs above your own. And, come to think about it, nothing about putting things right either, unless I’m greatly mistaken.

I wonder what other similar stories there are around, or maybe, used to be around. How many “mainstream” attitudes of former generations have been lost or bowdlerised beyond recognition. And of course, without trying to sound like a fuddy-duddy, what effect they have had on our communal nurture and ensuing common life? (And I include myself in that too!)

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1. Mary - 4 June 2007

For a much older age group, Rosemary Sutcliffe’s “Mark of the Horse Lords” is a superb example of sacrifice for the tribe, although utterly without any personal redemption. Makes me cry every time.


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