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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Adventures of Tintin in the Congo: Reporter for Le Petit Vingtieme » User review

I love Tintin but this was painful!

  • Dec 11, 2010
TINTIN IN THE CONGO was first published as a serial in 1930 in Le Petit Vingtième, the children's supplement to the Brussels newspaper, Le Vingtième Siècle. This is the story of Tintin's assignment to the Congo to hunt for trophies, write stories about the progress of the colony and to take wildlife photographs for his newspaper. Today, sadly, it can only be labelled an embarrassing product of its times.

To be sure, the story of the adventures of Tintin, portrayed as an intrepid, courageous young reporter for Le Petit Vingtième would have been amusing for the children of the day. Sharks, lions, crocodiles, boa constrictors, hippopotamus, enraged water buffalo, pygmies, attacking natives, a nefarious medicine man, American gangsters under the command of a wicked Al Capone making a power play to control the lucrative diamond trade in the Belgian Congo, raging rapids, narrow escapes and much more would have been exciting stuff for the young readers eagerly waiting for each fast-paced instalment of the serial publication.

But the sad fact is that the patronizing, degrading portrayal of the blacks in the Congo as simplistic brutes desperately in need of the firm but kindly guiding hand of their French colonial masters was execrably racist and, to a thinking modern reader, utterly appalling. Thank goodness a mature Hergé, in his later years as a more accomplished writer and artist, had the good grace to repudiate his earlier work and apologize for it by suggesting that it was a sad reflection of the attitudes of the day.

Adding that to the unseemly portrayal of young Tintin as a positively bloodthirsty hunter willing to blast away at any animal that crossed his path with no respect for his prey and no regard or sensibility for the environment or the ecology, put the entire story beyond tasteless. I was positively aghast to witness one scene, for example, in which Tintin gunned down no less than fifteen antelopes, taking away only one animal and leaving the other fourteen to simply rot. In another segment, Tintin actually blasts a rhinoceros to bits with a stick of dynamite. Sigh!

As a long time fan of Tintin and Hergé, I have to admit that I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to read the original version of TINTIN IN THE CONGO. But, I'll say that its enjoyment was only for its historical value in seeing the development of Tintin as a character and Hergé as a cartoonist and author. The story itself was actually quite painful.

Recommended ONLY for adult fans of Hergé and Tintin who have a desire to complete the reading of the Tintin canon.

Paul Weiss

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December 11, 2010
Amazing! Maybe because in the context of today's morality, the story could be considered as far more insulting to the French than it is to the Congolese!
December 11, 2010
Yes Herge was actually very embarresed by this story later on and the only reason he decided to keep it in publication was because there were so many pirate version in circulation so he decided to clean it up a bit and republish it but like you say this book is mainly for the fans who want a compleat collection and definetly not a book to start your Tintin reading. But the funny thing is I've read that his book is actually very popular in Congo !!
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Paul Weiss ()
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   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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InTintin in the Congo, one of his earliest adventures, our intrepid reporter hunts down both criminals and wild game. The story was written in 1930 and first appeared in book form in 1931, and some of the parts are so dated that for years the book was unavailable in English. This edition reprints on black-and-white newsprint the original 1931 version. In one scene, Tintin tells a group of African children "Today, I'm going to talk to you about your country: Belgium!" When the story wasupdated and colorized(but not translated into English) in 1946, this became a simple lesson in addition. In addition to the colonial attitude, the Africans are portrayed as primitive, simple-minded folk ("He doesn't look very bright," Snowy opines about their guide), and Tintin reveals a brutal side by slaughtering half the wildlife on the continent (including blowing up a rhinoceros with dynamite!) and declaring while pursuing an enemy, "Sure as my name's Tintin, I'll get rid of him once and for all." Herge himself was embarrassed by much ofTintin in the Congo, and it's not a part of the regular canon, but fans who can accept it as a product of its time will enjoy seeing their hero in one more adventure, one that provides a jumping-off point for the much-better-knownTintin in America.--David Horiuchi
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ISBN-10: 0867199024
ISBN-13: 978-0867199024
Author: Herge
Genre: Children's Books
Publisher: Last Gasp
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