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Land of Black Gold: The four versions

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Jyrki21
Member
#11 · Posted: 16 Jun 2004 19:57 · Edited by: Jyrki21
Thanks for the reply, Chris. One correction, though: in 1950, Wadesdah is not listed as the capital but merely a "small town on the coast." Had the Emir called it the capital, unquestionably Tintin was in a separate emirate (unnamed at the time) with its own sovereign in the emir. But in 1950, no understanding of having entered a new country -- whether fictional or not -- is ever related.

As I noted, there are serious errors if the whole thing was supposed to be in British Palestine, the most glaring of which is the presence of oil, as well as a seemingly controlling emir within the boundaries of another country!

But if Tintin has left British Palestine at some point, when does he do it? If it's before meeting Bab El Ehr (i.e. Bab El Ehr lives in the Emir's unnamed emirate), then Bab El Ehr is far more concerned with Palestinian issues (fighting the Zionist movement and fighting the British) than he really ought to be for someone who lives in a different country.

If it's after meeting Bab El Ehr, so that Bab El Ehr himself is a Palestinian Arab, then what's his rivalry with Ben Kalish Ezab, the sovereign of a neighboring state?

And if, as I suggested, the whole thing isn't "really" supposed to be British Palestine, where on earth else is one going to find a Zionist movement? Deserts and camels you can do generically as "Somewhere in the Middle East," and Hergé does it quite well. But you can't really stick in the Irgun and leave it generically as "Somewhere in the Middle East," can you?

And to go back to the Red Sea Sharks connection, is Khemed mentioned by name in the first edition, or not until 1969? And either way, how did Hergé expect his readers to know what Khemed was if it was never defined in Land of Black Gold until after the Red Sea Sharks came out?
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#12 · Posted: 16 Jun 2004 22:34 · Edited by: Harrock n roll
Jyrki21 wrote One correction, though: in 1950, Wadesdah is not listed as the capital but merely a "small town on the coast."

Hi, it wasn't quite a mistake, more a case of me missing out that Wadesdah was later to become the capital. Khemed is certainly not mentioned in the 1939 version. In that version the story ends (as I said) at the point just after Tintin's identity is discovered by Müller after which he ties him up and leaves him to "the Simoun" - before Tintin would get to meet the emir.

Whether the emir would have appeared in the original version, I guess we'll never know. It's often been noted that Hergé wrote some of his earlier stories for Le Petit V. week by week without a clear underlying plan in advance. Because of this (and perhaps the pressures of the impending war) we have to allow Hergé some artistic liscence with his namings and locales - for example, in 'The Black Island' none of those place names actually exist in England or Scotland although it's obvious that it is set there.

In this story we have to take a leap of faith and accept that it really is set in the British Palestine Mandate and not some other fictional British-controlled mandate with an arab-jewish struggle. We also have to accept that after Tintin is re-abducted (by the arabs) he is taken out to the edge of the desert to Bab El Ehr's hideout (perhaps some 200-300 miles from Caiffa/Haifa?). Ditto the Thom(p)sons. Britain also controlled what became Jordan, Syria, Iraq, etc at various times so I imagine these borders were continually changing and probably not well defined. Also, I don't see Bab El Ehr as neccesarily a Palestinian arab per se - he's described by Major Thorpe as leader of the arabs. I expect all of the arabs of the entire region had a very large beef with the British! (and obviously still have)

The storyline's central theme is really the control for oil in the Middle East, most definitely why the British heavily occupied the region in the first place. I don't think Hergé's readers at that time would have had too much trouble accepting any of this, nor that Khemed was the name of the country in 'The Red Sea Sharks' - and for that book, they wouldn't have to wait too long. 'The Red Sea Sharks' was issued 1958 I think and the "new" 'Land of Black Gold' serialised from 1969.
Jyrki21
Member
#13 · Posted: 17 Jun 2004 03:07 · Edited by: Jyrki21
In this story we have to take a leap of faith and accept that it really is set in the British Palestine Mandate and not some other fictional British-controlled mandate with an arab-jewish struggle. We also have to accept that after Tintin is re-abducted (by the arabs) he is taken out to the edge of the desert to Bab El Ehr's hideout (perhaps some 200-300 miles from Caiffa/Haifa?). Ditto the Thom(p)sons. Britain also controlled what became Jordan, Syria, Iraq, etc at various times so I imagine these borders were continually changing and probably not well defined. Also, I don't see Bab El Ehr as neccesarily a Palestinian arab per se - he's described by Major Thorpe as leader of the arabs. I expect all of the arabs of the entire region had a very large beef with the British! (and obviously still have)

So if I'm reading you right, Tintin arrives in British Palestine, but as of the point of his abduction, is brought outside of the territory into an independent emirate. (If future-Khemed wasn't independent, of course, then the Emir would not have the power he did). Bab El Ehr, by extension, lives in this oil-rich emirate, but focuses his struggles on British colonialization elsewhere in the region as a pan-Arab nationalist.

I think this more or less has to be the explanation, but it still leaves some holes. I suppose it's possible that Bab El Ehr, as an Arab nationalist, would take an interest in the Palestinian conflict to a certain extent, but to the point of trying to kidnap Salomon Goldstein? Would the British in Jerusalem really identify him as the 'leader of the Arabs' and put a bounty on his head if he was a citizen of a different state not even under their control?

There are also geographic discrepancies, but Hergé can be granted some leeway there. At the time Land of Black Gold was started, British control in the Middle East had largely been whittled away. Transjordan (as it was then called) had been severed from Palestine and decolonized in 1922. Egypt gained independence the same year, and Iraq in 1932. That left only Palestine under British control.

If the unnamed Khemed is supposed to be an oil-rich Gulf state, it would be a fair distance from what is now Israel, which means Tintin would have had to cross, like, 3 countries with his abductors, and Bab El Ehr would be acting from quite a distance. The tracts of land are small, but not that small. :) And more importantly, none of those territories would have been British at the time... which is why I was originally forced into the conclusion that Bab El Ehr had to be Palestinian if he's so busy fighting them...
pauldurdin
Moderator Emeritus
#14 · Posted: 17 Jun 2004 04:05
Personally, I think we're being a little too critical here -- after all, the story was picked up again first after an 11 year gap, then after 19 year gap. We can't expect anyone -- even Herge with his meticulous perfection and realism -- to get everything right over that period of time.

However, having said that...my take on it is that Yes, the story takes place in British Palestine. It may not be geographically correct (oil and deserts and Emirs, oh my!), but coming after the hodge-podge pseudo-realism of Syldavia I think it's permissible.

It's possible that Herge, in the original 1939 edition, was creating a new country (unnamed at this point) using British Palestine and other Middle East states of the time as a basis -- similar to the way he created Syldavia by mixing several European countries. This would account for the Jews, oil, Arabs, the emir, and the obscure geographic details.

I hope I've made myself clear there...

Paul
Jyrki21
Member
#15 · Posted: 17 Jun 2004 14:32 · Edited by: Jyrki21
Personally, I think we're being a little too critical here -- after all, the story was picked up again first after an 11 year gap, then after 19 year gap. We can't expect anyone -- even Herge with his meticulous perfection and realism -- to get everything right over that period of time.

To make myself clear, I'm in no way attempting to be critical and harp on details which Hergé might have mis-conveyed, but am merely asking a very basic question: where on earth does the 1950 story take place? Just trying to figure out based on the guidelines Hergé has left.

I just think it's a more complex question than "he missed a couple details," along the lines of "the trees are the wrong shade of green for that region, so he screwed up"... it's the internal logic of having, on one hand, a colonized country and a resistance movement, and on the other hand what appears to be an independent Arab state, with no explanation of how we moved from one to the other. (Kind of like if the story took place in the United States, but Tintin goes to "the king" for assistance... you'd at least be scratching your head as to what happened).

Just wondering what was going through his mind... whether that actually is the idea.
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#16 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 00:14
The French publication Le Figaro magazine has since the 26th of June begun serializing the 1948 version of Land of Black Gold with 6 pages per week. This will be accompanied each week by editorial pages on the history of the adventure.
pauldurdin
Moderator Emeritus
#17 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 05:12
I had a quick look on the website, and it seems possible to purchase the article from the archives. However, at 4 euros per episode I think I'll pass.

I just went to www.lefigaro.fr and put 'tintin' in their search box -- it brought up a bunch of articles, including episodes 1 & 2 of L'or noir.

Paul
number1fan
Member
#18 · Posted: 14 Mar 2010 19:11 · Edited by: Moderator
Merged from another thread:

Is the French Land of the Black Gold first edition any different from the finished edition I have never really been able to find out.
robbo
Member
#19 · Posted: 14 Mar 2010 22:26 · Edited by: robbo
That's an interesting question number1fan - I think I've just learnt something just by looking closely at my own books!

If you mean the version Herge started in 1939, he had to stop because of Nazi occupation, and it was never completed.

I believe it is different to the version published in 1950, and that Herge redrew the plates from the beginning. I just checked the Art of Herge vol2 pg64 and there is a page showing the Thom(p)sons driving in the desert. Firstly the car they are driving is not a jeep, and the frame where they dive onto hard sand leads directly to the scene where they drive straight into a pool of water. In the 1950's version these two scenes are interspersed with the one showing Tintin being led on a leash by his Arab captives.

It would be fascinating to see all the original pages reproduced; maybe a book could be produced along the lines of the Black Island Dossier comprising all three versions.

mat
number1fan
Member
#20 · Posted: 14 Mar 2010 23:00
I had heard there was another dossier in the works that certainly would be great.I have always been fascinated with the original Land of the Black Gold Artwork there's a few bits about I like the fact that the British Empire was dead when it got redone but when it was first being drawn the officers escorting Tintin are clearly British only be replaced by Middle Eastern police.

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