The Arab World in the Albums of Tintin

The Arab World in the Albums of Tintin, by Louis Blin (in French)

This is an essential book for any tintinophile, and fascinating to discover for any simple Tintin reader like me. The author, Louis Blin, is a doctor in history, and former Consul General of France in Jeddah for ten years. He is now in charge of the Arab and Muslim World Mission at the Center for Analysis, Forecasting and Strategy of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is of course a perfect Arabist. That is to say, he has a fine and deep knowledge of the Arab world.

Louis Blin is also an informed tintinophile. One could even qualify him as a remiphile, even if it means forging this word from Hergé’s real name: Georges Rémi. His knowledge of Hergé’s works extends to the other characters, Quick and Flupke, and Jo, Zette and Jocko. In short, the author has indisputable qualifications to write this little treatise.

All Tintin’s albums that concern the Arab world are analyzed in detail, either because they take place in a country of the Arab world, or because Hergé portrays one or more characters from those countries: Les Cigares du Pharaon, Le Crabe aux Pinces d’Or, Tintin au Pays de l’Or Noir, Coke en Stock, and even the unfinished Tintin et l’Alph-Art. All the subjects are covered, we learn a lot of information throughout the pages. The connection of the characters with existing men (Ben Kalish Ezab with the Saudi kings, Bab el Ehr with the Hashemites, Müller with Philby, etc.), Hergé’s mistakes, the language, the tormented history of the album Tintin au Pays de l’Or Noir, Hergé’s sometimes difficult psychology, the trauma of the war and even worse of the trial in collaborationism that was brought against him after the war despite the anti-Nazi album Le Crabe aux Pinces d’Or. Hergé’s racism is approached straightforwardly, but placing it in the context of Georges Rémi’s background and education and the Belgian colonial society of the 1930s.

A fascinating, enriching book that sheds an astonishing light on a very important figure of Western culture in the 20th century. A must read!

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