• The little Roundy man

    If you've been following this blog a little, you know that Helene and I have been trying to solve the mystery of The little Roundy man (see here for a first version of the story)!! Even before the blog was born, we had exchanged about this long-lost book which we remembered from Auntie Olive, and wondered what could have happened to it. We still don't know, but we have now found the story itself again! First, we had thought it was called the little round man, and so got misled! (link) Ooer, sorry, here. Roundy isn't round! But soon anyway, Helene located the book thanks to Loganberry Books! I wonder why we didn't think of it in the first place! Anyway, she came up with this magazine.

    The little Roundy man

    and this book-cover:

    The little Roundy man

    So we now knew that it had been an Enid Blyton story all along! A few days later, Helene received the book, and she sent me the pages! here you go:

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    The little Roundy man

    So, now perhaps you wonder why all the fuss? Why did we want to get our hands on the story once again? Well, perhaps Helene will tell you as far as she's concerned, but for me, this story was one of my first reader's complete pleasures. What I'll say now probably explains also why I used to like Enid Blyton so much (perhaps not very trendy by today's standards, but who cares). The little roundy man contained all the ingredients of suspense, mystery, suggestiveness, adventure, problem solving, you name it. It starts with temptation and sin, so to speak, because the children, playing in a forest, find a mysterious tree containing mysterious shoes. They are warned not to step in the shoes (or they know they shouldn't), and they do it all the same: retribution comes immediately in the shape of the young girl (Joan) being punished for her curiosity, and being forced against her will to go where she wouldn't want to go!

    Now this is a strong idea, for such a little story. Enchanted shoes which make you a prisoner of their evil will! I'm sure John Bunyan would have done something of it if he'd had the idea. It reminds me of the ass's skin which was worn by the hero of Balzac's La peau de chagrin; the young man who gets his hand on it and starts wearing it makes his wishes become true, but the skin shrinks after every wish, and he eventually dies from suffocation. In The little roundy man, the shoes are also evil: they're beautiful and alluring (like the fruit of the forbidden tree in Eden), but once they're worn, they bring you down and submit you to a will that was both inside and outside you!

    Then Roundy is like another Jesus, because he can fight successfully against the devilish sorcerer! What's striking is that he has the idea of "sinning" only half-way: he puts only one of the shoes, so he can control it and thus trap the tempter! Theologically, this can certainly refer to the mystery of Incarnation and the Saviour's acceptance of humanity's sinfulness (2Corinthians 5,21), in order to redeem it all the better. The little round house could be interpreted in a variety of ways, and I wouldn't want to strain the comparison, but certainly it is his instrument of salvation (as an all-round vehicle, it could refer to the Church whose universality encompasses the world): he manages to trap the sorcerer inside, and makes it roll and roll until its victim cries out for mercy, and gives up the keys of his netherland (Hell? Where the souls expecting deliverance were waiting?), which enables the children to go down into the cave, and unlock the door of their poor sister (ah, Eve, why hadst thou tasted that wretched fruit! But it was for our reading pleasure of course!)...

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