Since 1977

Since 1977, I have written more than 300 000 kilometers of words, that is to say put end to end, one way trip from Earth to the Moon. Or a second to light for this trip. A second light words in 30 years, some 3 billion signs.

Sunday, April 8, 2012



The first version

Hergé began working on the story before World War II and early pages were published in Le petit vingtieme. The atmosphere of impending war throughout the adventure reflects the concerns of the time.

The original version was set in the late 1930s in the British Mandate for Palestine, and the conflict between Jews, Arabs and British troops. In this version, the Jewish Irgun played a small but important part. The head of the Irgun disguises himself as an Orthodox Rabbi (as did Menachem Begin, the real historical head of the Irgun, during this period). Upon his arrival in Palestine, Tintin is arrested by the British authorities when compromising documents are found in his cabin, of which he knew nothing. He is then kidnapped by members of the Irgun who have mistaken him for one of their own. They realise their mistake when their real associate, Finkelstein, arrives at their HQ. He bears some resemblance to Tintin, though he has a nasty and unpleasant smirk on his face.

Before they can decide what to do with him the Zionists' car is stopped by a roadblock of rocks and barrels. As they clear it, Arab gunmen emerge from a nearby wheat field and take Tintin, whom they too believe is the Zionist activist, into the desert. (This scene was inspired by a photo Hergé had in his archives showing two British soldiers from a road convoy dismantling a similar obstruction while other troops have their rifles and machine guns pointed at a wheat field.)

 Tintin meets Sheikh Bab El Ehr, the Arab insurgent who is fighting the British and the Jews. Meanwhile the Zionists are captured and interrogated by British officials.
Following the takeover of Belgium by Germany in 1940, Hergé decided that it would be wiser to drop this story whose political context would not have appealed to the German censors. It ceased publication at about mid-adventure when Tintin, after his first confrontation with Müller, is caught in a sandstorm.

Hergé moved to the collaborationist newspaper Le Soir and during the war years Tintin's adventures focused on non-political issues such as drug smuggling (The Crab with the Golden Claws), scientific expeditions (The Shooting Star), intrigue and treasure hunts (The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure) and a mysterious curse (The Seven Crystal Balls).
Controversially, The Shooting Star also included Jews shown in a bad light (see Tintin and the Jews).

Some aspects of Tintin's adventures have resulted in accusations of anti-Semitism being levelled at Hergé, accusations that are often connected to his work during World War II for Le Soir, a newspaper that collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation of Belgium.
Before the war, there were some instances of sinister Jewish-looking figures in Tintin's adventures. In The Broken Ear (1935–7), Tintin questions a shopkeeper who is selling copies of the fetish he is looking for: the man wears a kippah, speaks in broken French and rubs his hands with "invisible soap".

As the war began, the first version of Land of Black Gold (1939–40) was being published. This version was set in the British Mandate of Palestine and featured Jewish terrorists led by a Rabbi. The story was suspended due to its political nature, but completed after the war.
Jews appearing in a scene in The Shooting Star which appeared in the original newspaper edition."Did you hear that, Isaac?... The end of the world!... What if it were true?...""Tee, hee!... Zat vould be a nice little teal, Salomon!... Ikh howe 50,000 Francs to my zurppliers... Zat vay ikh zould not be avle to pay..."
The most serious instance of alleged anti-Semitism, however, featured in The Shooting Star (1941), which appeared during the German occupation. In a scene that appeared in Le Soir on 11 November 1941, two evil-looking Jewish men, Isaac and Salomon, watch Philippulus the Prophet inform Tintin that the end of the world is nigh. One of them, speaking in very twisted French, looks forward to this as it means that he will not be obliged to pay off his creditors. In addition, the sponsor of the rival expedition sent to find the meteorite is called Blumenstein, is given the appearance of a stereotypical Jewish businessman and uses underhand and potentially lethal methods to delay Tintin's ship. His bank is located in New York and his crew attempts to plant the American flag on the meteorite.

 After the war and the exposure of the Holocaust, Jewish people became noticeably absent from Tintin's adventures. Land of Black Gold was redrawn at the request of Hergé's British publishers who felt that it was out-of-date now that the state of Israel had been established. The terrorists in the Middle East were replaced by Arabs (which could be seen as just as racist). The scene with Isaac and Salomon was left out of the book editions of The Shooting Star, while "Blumenstein" was renamed "Bohlwinkel" and relocated to the fictional country of São Rico. According to Hergé, both the original and the later name were honest mistakes:[14] he thought Blumenstein was a common American name, and chose Bohlwinkel because it sounded like "bollewinkel", a candy store.
Hugo Frey has argued that anti-Semitism continued in the post-war Flight 714. Tintin's old nemesis and the mastermind of the plot in the book is the evil Rastapopoulos, who Frey argues is an example of anti-Semitic caricature, though other writers argue against this, pointing out that Rastapopoulos is not Jewish, and surrounds himself with explicitly German-looking characters: Kurt, the submarine commander of The Red Sea Sharks, Doctor Krollspell, whom Hergé himself referred to as a former concentration camp official and Hans Boehm, the sinister-looking navigator and co-pilot, both from Flight 714. Another possible interpretation of Rastapopoulos, whose name is clearly of Greek origin, is that the character is a subtle reference to Aristoteles Onassis.
In other works, Hergé showed much sympathy for oppressed peoples, such as the Chinese in The Blue Lotus, the black African Muslims about to be traded as slaves in The Red Sea Sharks and the Gypsies of The Castafiore Emerald falsely accused of theft.

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