Post #35: The Secret of the Old Clock

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene [Facsimile Edition]

Post number thirty-five is for Carolyn Keene's The Secret of the Old Clock. This edition is acually a reprinting of the very first edition of The Secret of the Old Clock. In the 1960s or so, the Nancy Drew books (and Hardy Boys and all those other series from the 1920s) underwent a pretty severe edit to make them more "user friendly", so to speak. There are a number of inappropriate cultural references (according to our modern-day standards, that is), especially regarding minorities, and these were edited out of the later editions, which are probably the ones most folks are familiar with. So this edition (called "facsimile edition") is a reprinting of the original, which was interesting for me to read. The book is much longer than the Nancy Drews I remember, and it would be interestnig for me to now read the "edited" version to compare the two, although my limited free time makes that difficult to accomplish.

Once again, this is a required reading for my History of Children's Literature course. Brief spoilers follow.









I thought that I had read The Secret of the Old Clock back in fifth/sixth grade when I was going through a pretty extensive Nancy Drew period. However, the book's storyline was totally new to me, so I must have missed it. I do know for sure that I read The Hidden Staircase, which is the second book in the series, as well as quite a few others, including newer versions that were released around the time I was in late elementary school.

I was struck by mentions of Hannah as the "maid" (she's referred to as the housekeeper in the later editions), the numerous mentions of how "capable" or "skillful" Nancy is, and the references to her car as "the roadster". It also amused me that her father basically lets her do whatever she wants; he gives her very little parental support except for a few admonishments to be careful. Also, this is the first time I remember Nancy openly disliking someone. Her feelings toward the Tophams – especially the girls – are almost openly hostile in some parts of the story. While there were some aspects of the Nancy I remember, there was also quite a lot that was different; I am not sure if this is the fault of the editing or just my lack of memory regarding the books. I don't think I've read a Nancy Drew story aside from the Greek Symbol mystery since I was in elementary school.

There were the same aspects of Nancy being completely able to handle any problem, from a flat tire to getting out of a locked closet. Perhaps she's the beginning of the Mary Sue? It's hard to say for sure, but while I can mostly look past it, I can't help but notice her Mary-Sueness as well. Of course, that's just Nancy; she was written to basically be as perfect as possible. Although I do have to admit that it's nice to see a self-sufficient female character who solves mysteries and gives the "bad guys" their just desserts. It is just interesting for me to read some of these stories as an adult; I can still enjoy the same aspects that I did when I was a child, but can also point out the issues or problems with the stories, or even Nancy herself.

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