It has been around 10 years since I have read any of the original 56 Nancy Drew books. I have been meaning to revisit them, but I have not been motivated to do so. This last week I decided to read The Secret of the Old Clock. I chose to read the revised text version, since that was the one I read as a child. Following are my various observations.
Upon this reading, I found that the revised text book is way too short, and so I decided to read the original text version immediately after reading the revised text. The original text version does take a good bit longer to read, and the story is fleshed out better.
The primary reason given for the revision of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books is that the revisions were done to remove racial stereotypes. While this may indeed have been one of the reasons, more likely the revisions were motivated by the need to renew the copyrights and to replace worn printing plates.
The revised text Old Clock does remove the unfortunate stereotype of the drunk, colored caretaker who allows the thieves to trick him. But at the same time, the revised text book adds other stereotypes which are not present in the original text.
In the original text Old Clock, the Horner girls need money badly in order to run their farm. Allie Horner wants to buy more chickens. I guess that wasn't a worthy enough reason to need an inheritance.
In the revised text Old Clock, Allison Hoover has a fantastic voice, and a voice teacher tells her "that some day we shall know Allison Hoover as an operatic star!" She needs the money for voice lessons since she is destined for greatness. Now that is a much more worthwhile reason, right? We can't have poor girls wanting to have more chickens. We need them to have poise and be brilliant in some fashion.
Little Judy does not exist in the original text version. In the revised text version, the Turners are going to be able to give Judy "the kind of schooling we think she should have!" This is an example of the stereotypical fashion in which the wealthy elite think. A young girl who is better than her economic situation can only thrive with expensive, private schooling.
In the original text, Nancy drives the officer back to the station. In the revised text, the officer drives Nancy's car back to the station with Nancy as a passenger. This is that stereotype of male superiority that was prevalent during the middle part of the 20th century. Interestingly, Nancy is more subservient in the revised text books than she is in the original text books.
I noted that the revised text book needs some revision. The revised text book mentions the photostat machine, which is not mentioned in the original. I read about the photostat machine on Wikipedia, and the company that owned it had already been sold by the time Old Clock was revised and was in the process of being replaced by Xerox. The revised text used a term that was on the way out at the time it was written. Now, the term has been obsolete for more than 50 years.
People who dislike Nancy Drew criticize her for her perfection. They clearly have read the revised text books. I don't have a problem with it, but at moments, even I am given pause.
The revised text Old Clock adds the scene in which the dress is torn by one of the Topham girls in the department store. Nancy just so happens to love the dress and insists upon trying it on. Of course the dress fits perfectly, and Nancy suggests to the clerk that they have it altered to hide the tear. Oh how perfectly perfect it worked out! The clerk was not blamed for the torn dress, and Nancy saves the day! The original text scene of the Topham girl breaking the vase would have sufficed.