Haddock blows his top
- BuyHergé: The Man who Created Tintin by Pierre Assouline, translated by Charles Ruas
Oxford, 276 pp, £9.99, October 2011, ISBN 978 0 19 983727 4
- Hergé, Son of Tintin by Benoît Peeters, translated by Tina Kover
Johns Hopkins, 394 pp, £15.50, November 2011, ISBN 978 1 4214 0454 7
By the ends of their lives, two great 20th-century stylists had for decades been the heads of their respective trades, monitoring and publishing the younger talent, attracting unmatched levels of scholarly interest and being admired with a special vehemence by conservatives who would once have sneered at the kinds of stuff they turned out. Each man stood for an idea of European culture, preferred cats to children – for whom each wrote successfully all the same – and took an interest in prewar comedy, Eastern philosophy and the Church. In each case a studiedly colourless public persona half-concealed a turbulent inner life: running a magazine while trying to do his own work and undergoing a crisis in his first marriage, each had a nervous breakdown at the height of his creative powers and went to Switzerland to recuperate. Much younger second wives, first met in the workplace, would go on to control their estates with great care, which was needed thanks in part to both men’s youthful connections to various Francophone anti-democrats. Their early ideas about fascism were notoriously slippery; also quite well known were their unfriendly depictions of Levantine Greeks and, in particular, Jews.
You are not logged in
[*] McCarthy’s book, published in 2006, praises Hergé for his ‘mastery of plot and symbol, theme and subtext’, and extracts from his work much the same set of tropes – involving transmission, reception, codes, machines, tombs etc – that McCarthy went on to use in his novel C.