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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Adventurous Scribe (6)

I happened to read the entire Tintin collection all over again last month courtesy my 7 year old Nephew's collection. As an adult, having learnt a little more than when I was 7, I was drawn once more into the beautiful worlds that Herge had made his own. The waterfalls in Latin America, the snows of Tibet and the sands of the Middle East came to life in his hands, but within historical and cultural contexts of which I had hitherto remained ignorant.

The sight of the Delhi street (with cow) and the carefully distinguished portrayals of the Japanese and Chinese characters display an attention to detail that imbibed the nuances of each foreign land. That such magic could be conjured for readers across the globe by a little known Belgian is a credit to the far-sighted publishers of the time.

It is thus only appropriate that Micheal Farr's painstakingly researched work "Tintin: The Complete Companion" should have made its way to our shores. Reviewer Dinoj Surendran notes another interesting facet of Herge's bilingual efforts:
"I also used to think that translating the books into different languages was just a matter of changing the stuff written in the balloons. Hell, no! For example, in the original French version of Tintin in Africa, a rhino gets blown up. In a Scandinavian edition, the Scand editors refused to print such gratuitous violence to animals and several frames had to be changed so the rhino runs away, terrified but alive."

The book contextualises every Tintin story with historical backgrounds, photographs (many of which formed the basis for Herge's panels), trivia and even a narrative on how Herge's life and work progressed with each work. A 205 page hardcover edition priced at between Rs.700 and Rs.895, this is a coffee table book which might be dog-eared in a week. Available here.
The front cover (below) is a delicate confluence of photograph and drawing.


  • Speaking of Belgium, have you tried that new Belgian Cafe?

    Don't you think that there is a lot of racial stereotyping in Tintin storylines? The backward Africans, the evil Japanese etc.?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:35 PM  

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