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Monday, January 04, 2010

The Best of Jennings

Prion recently published The Best of Jennings, which some might argue is a bit of a misnomer as it contains the first four Jennings novels rather than a calculated selection from the Jennings canon of "the best". Mind you, the first four are as good a selection as any.

This collection features Jennings Goes to School, Jennings Follows a Clue, Jennings' Little Hut and Jennings and Darbishire, originally published between 1950 and 1952. I re-read the first some while back and it was as hilarious as it was the first time I read it forty or so years ago. I was a bit nervous that the language would be as fossilised as I've now become but it was still an utter wheeze to read.

The four novels appears to be of the original texts, with tuppenny bus fairs intact, which is something all readers should appreciate. The books are of their time, as are the lives that our heroes experience at Linbury Court boarding school and no amount of updating could improve the stories for a "modern" audience. I know this from my own reading of the books (and the Billy Bunter and Lone Pine books, all those years ago): they were nothing like the schools I attended or the holidays of my childhood any more than Hogwarts has any comparison to a modern comprehensive. The Jennings novels are historical documents of a time long gone and any child will quickly understand that fact and immerse themselves in this rich and very different world.

Of course, a new audience isn't what Prion are after. The book is for those of us afflicted with the nostalgia bug and, as far as I'm concerned, they could not have chosen a better author to revive.

The Best of Jennings. Prion ISBN 978-1853757242, October 2008.


Nandu Thalange said...

Many thanks for the tip-off, Steve! I'm really pleased that it has the original unexpurgated dialogue - I've ordered my copy, and am looking forward to reading it. Do you know if there are plans to reprint other volumes?

Chap O'Keefe said...

I borrowed the books as fast as they were originally published and acquired by the Enfield Highway branch library. I distinctly remember requesting Jennings' Little Hut and being the first to read the library's copy. Like many youngsters of the time, I was introduced to Jennings via the radio episodes broadcast as part of the BBC's Children's Hour.

Reuben said...

I really enjoyed the Jennings stories BBC7 broadcast last week.
I loved those books as a kid.

John Burke said...

I too am hoping they release another volume! Wizard!