September 23, 2005

Nancy Drew, Redux

I'd love to get my hands on some of the earlier versions of the Nancy Drew stories. And it would be lovely to have multiple versions of my favories (e.g., Mystery at Lilac Inn) just to see what details were changed over the decades.

In a way, Nancy is my first girl-detective role model. However, if I had to choose, I'd root for Trixie. Because I'm a dirty turncoat.

Posted by Attila at September 23, 2005 02:06 PM | TrackBack

I read my sister's Nancy Drew books first, and she will always be my strongest obsession. Cool settings, vague 1930-1970 atmosphere, and a perfect life for all the characters (except for the bad guy).

On the other hand, Nancy's world could be too perfect at times; ergo the appeal of Trixie, who had to deal with annoying siblings and cleaning the house.

Posted by: Hubris at September 23, 2005 07:32 PM

Yeah--people with tempers, material inequities, misunderstandings. They were really teenage-girl novels that contained mysteries.

How fabulous that you admit to having read them; I don't think I've ever heard my brother cop to it.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 23, 2005 10:44 PM

I've only read the originals. My mother has first editions of the first twenty three Nancy Drew books (all from the twenties and thirties) and those are the only copies I've ever read. I devoured them. In those Nancy didn't wear sweater sets or chic clothes of today, she wore cloche hats (I think I spelled that correctly) and gloves. I adored those books so much! I just can't handle Nancy any other way. To me, she will always be the titian haired girl of the twenties that I grew up reading. Oh. I should mention that I read them in the 1980s (I'm 24).

Posted by: Katie at September 23, 2005 11:12 PM

Attila Girl,

I read every book I could get my hands on (including my sister's Harlequin romances, which probably forever warped my understanding of relationships). But I probably read the Drew books at least ten times each, 'cause they were so damn good.


I think the ones I read were mostly revised in the 1960s. I understand why they updated them to get rid of the racial stereotypes, but it's my understanding that they also shortened the chapters, as well as the number of chapters. I'd really like to get a crack at the originals.

Posted by: Hubris at September 24, 2005 07:45 AM

The originals are great. Unfortunately, they are also hard to find now. My mom has all of them, but it took 15 years to find them all. They stand out in used book stores because they have bright blue covers (only very very rarely covered by dust jackets), but they are rarer and rarer every day.

I read the 20s/30s versions and don't really remember racial slurs or anything (although I would believe they were there and I just didn't register them because I was seven). I do remember occasionally thinking something was gendered stupidly (masculine guy/fainting girl or something), but that was about it. Otherwise it was pretty good. Nancy was a strong female character who pretty much liked everybody.

Posted by: Katie at September 25, 2005 08:43 PM

You might be surprised if you read 'em again: I recall being shocked when I re-read the Little House books--as a supposed grownup--at the way Laura Ingalls Wilder portrayed American Indians. It just didn't register when I was a little girl.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 26, 2005 05:38 PM

You're right, I might be. At the same time, I don't think it matters that much. The books are written for girls the ages I was when I read them. Things like that usually only bother adults (often adults who go looking for them) and I honestly think that rewriting books to remove that stuff only hurts the book and the readers. We can't erase that such thinking happened and was common at one point, and trying to do so only cheats our children. I believe that there are racial slurs in there, but I also think it doesn't hurt the books. Especially since I don't remember them and neither do the other people I've asked about it since you mentioned it. I believe that some of the updated versions of the books might still be good, but I'm still going to consider Nancy the girl from the 1920s that I remember reading. Other versions are just imitations to me.

Posted by: Katie at September 27, 2005 01:00 PM

I know. After all, we wouldn't want to see it done to Huckleberry Finn. OTOH, I hate to think about minority children reading stuff from that era and getting their feelings hurt. So it's a tough call.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 27, 2005 04:16 PM

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