Monday, July 17, 2006

Another Weird Obsession

I often find myself obsessed with books and/or authors I know little about or don't even particularly care about. For instance, when The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came out, I read everything I could find in the press about C. S. Lewis even though I totally didn't see what was the big deal about his book.

Well, now I'm on Tintin. And this time around I know even less about the subject of my obsession than I did with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I've never read the books, folks. I wanted to watch the PBS program on Tintin's author, Herge, but haven't managed to find it.

Now I just tried to read ILLICIT FREQUENCIES, OR ALL LITERATURE IS PIRATED: AN INTERVIEW WITH TOM McCARTHY, the author of Tintin and the Secret of Literature. I couldn't even manage that.

Sure, I was interested to read Tom McCarthy say, "I genuinely rate Herge's work, and wanted to read it alongside Balzac, Baudelaire, Bergson, Bachelard and all the rest..." because I haven't read Balzac, Baudelaire, Bergson, Bachelard and probably all the rest. But if Tintin is on the same level, maybe I can just read that and be done with it. But when I got to this sentence: "After all, your Tintin is primarily a semiologist who "can navigate [a key word in the McCarthy canon] the world of signs" (Tintin and the Secret of Literature p. 22), a deciphering cipher who embodies (along with Snowy?) the presence of absence -- the Melvillian "whiteness of the whale" (p. 161) -- but also, of course, Barthes' "ecriture blanche"," which came pretty early on, I thought, Gee, isn't there something I could be watching on television?

Blog of a Bookslut led me to that 3:AM interview.


Blogger John L said...

I am a lifelong fan of Tintin, and I was actually disappointed in the PBS documentary. It covered the main facts of Herge's life, but spent little time on the books themselves, or his development as a writer/artist. And on perusing the Tom McCarthy interview you mentioned, I found that a bit too analytical for my tastes.

I do recommend reading the actual Tintin comic books, however. They truly defy category, and are just plain fun -- a blend of adventure and comedy, written and drawn in a totally unique style; both realistic and fanciful, worldly and yet steeped in genuine innocence. They were a major influence on me as both a writer and illustrator.

By the way, your blog is really great -- I've only been reading a short time, but it's always provocative.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

For entertaining, useful, and readable information about Tintin, you might want to try Benoit Peeters' Tintin and the World of Herge: an illustrated history (Little Brown, 1992). It includes fun things like a table of how the characters' names appear in a variety of languages -- in French, Thompson and Thomson are Dupont and Dupond.
Someone named Michael Farr published Tintin: the complete companion in 2002, but I haven't actually read that one yet.

12:21 PM  
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1:04 AM  

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