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Aug 20, 2007 1:23 am

The Power of the State

From the Times Literary Supplement for August 10, 2007:

"The power of official bodies to influence the sales of books should not be underestimated. At the beginning of July, Tintin in the Congo was selling an average of seventy copies a week throughout the land. Then the Commission for Racial Equality stepped in, with a hideously worded statement which branded the comic strip"racist claptrap" and called for its removal from shops to prevent damage to young minds. The result, according to the August 3 issue of the Bookseller, is that Tintin in the Congo is now the fastest selling Tintin title. Last week, an estimated 1,300 copies were sold--one-tenth of the total since the book's republication in 2005."

I visited the website of Egmont Books, the publisher of Hergé's book, to find they have included this caveat:

"First published in book form in 1931, Tintin in the Congo reflects the colonial attitudes of that period in its depiction of African people. Hergé himself admitted that he was influenced by the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period."

You can't be too careful with the Commission for Racial Equality breathing down your neck.

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Mark Brady - 8/21/2007

Thanks for the link, Tim. Fascinating. I find that the English language edition was reissued in 2004 and is also available (together with Tintin in the Congo) as the first volume of The Adventures of Tintin (2007).

Tim Sydney - 8/21/2007

The CORE bureaucrats are probably really after Herge's more for his Tintin In the Land Of the Soviets than anything else. Herge's satire of the left's love affair with that bloody super-tyrannt is an embarassment they want to bury.