Enid Blyton is rightly famous for her pioneering transgender-affirming series, The Famous Five, featuring transgender hero George, who would often fly into a temper when dead-named by his three cisgender cousins.
But less well-known is Enid Blyton’s queering of the Bible in Noah’s Ark and Other Stories From the Old Testament, a book that I picked up today in a local bookstore.
Although aimed at children, adult readers have no problem in recognising the homoerotic subtext of Blyton’s biblical adaptation. In one queer-as-fuck section, so-called “clothes-sharers” (euphemistically speaking) David and Jonathan can’t keep their hands off each other:
1 Samuel 18:4 describes a unilateral stripping of clothes, in which Jonathan (as bottom) offers his naked body to David (the top). The text refrains from explicit description, forcing the reader to fill the gap in the text, just as David would have filled Jonathan’s own ‘gap’. The rare genius of Blyton is displayed in the way she has rid the biblical text of its inherent power-dynamics, encapsulated in Jonathan’s penetration by the superior warrior David. Blyton rewrites the biblical narrative, in the process transforming their relationship into a bilateral one. David and Jonathan “share” their clothes, symbolic of the mutually loving and committed relationship that the progressive Blyton envisaged for this most famous biblical same-sex couple.
Blyton then goes on to describe the sexual intrigues of what Theodore Jennings has identified as the text’s homoerotic “love-triangle” (between King Saul, David, and Jonathan):
Enid Blyton was following a risky path, penning her description of this sexual tryst, we might recall, when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain. She got away with it, no doubt, by disguising her affirmations of transgenderism and gay sex in an adaptation of the Bible for children. As a result, her queering of the Bible went unnoticed by heterosexual readers of the day. In our own time, of course, these themes seem much more transparent. Blyton, herself an early furry fetishist, has bestowed on us a rare gift in this unique adaptation of the biblical story of David and Jonathan.