Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Secret of the Ancient Evil

Those of us who become readers often don't begin with great literature. My own familiarity with the classics owes much more to Classics Illustrated than to the actual books.

Comics coexisted with books in my reading almost all the way through grade school. Either could transport me into another place to the extent that I became oblivious to the world around me.

The Hardy Boys were my introduction to mysteries, Tom Swift to science fiction, and so on. Soon, they were succeeded by Conan Doyle, Allingham, Buchan, Bradbury, and I moved on—but I retain an affection for the books that got me started.

So, apparently, does John Mark Reynolds:
Most future readers of great literature find themselves reading the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew at one point in their infant stage of literary development. I always preferred Drew to Hardy, since Drew’s mysteries were more complex and the Hardy Boys tended to rely more on machinery and muscle than brain power.

Both books did lead my brother and me to a life long quest to revive the use of the word “chum.” We have not yet succeeded, but have made some progress.
Reynolds isn't just engaging in nostalgia. He observes that the good guys and bad guys were usually pretty obvious in those books by virtue of physical characteristics, slovenliness and bad deportment. This leads to an interesting discussion of evil and the fact that appearances are a far less certain guide to discerning it than they are in Franklin W. Dixon's stories.

The Hardy Boys Latest: The Mystery of Attractive Evil Chums! | Scriptorium Daily

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