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Lake of Sharks: Cover change heralds the end of an era...?

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jock123
Moderator
#1 · Posted: 19 Sep 2007 10:04 · Edited by: jock123
It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose: the album of Lake of Sharks has been reissued in a new edition, as have all the others as they were re-lettered.

"So what?" I hear you ask...

Well, that volume, love it or hate it (and I am not soliciting debate on that point here - there are other threads for that...) was a remarkable hang-over in one important respect. Until it was replaced, the back cover was the last resting-place of the chronology of the English translations, and thus the only guide to the continuity of the "Marlinshire" adventures of Tintin.
What I mean is that it was the only place left where the order of the books listed on the back matched the order in which the books were translated into English; now they are shown in chronological order of their original publication (as on all the other books).
The nett effect is that nowhere is a new reader able to see the order they should read the books in if they want to follow the series as translated, and thus follow the internal continuity that was designed around the books coming out in a different order.
So the chances of being puzzled by why Snowy wants to go back to Marlinspike "before" the place has been bought, and all the other usual confusions will mount...
Ah well...
Balthazar
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 19 Sep 2007 12:00 · Edited by: Balthazar
I wouldn't want to question the reasoning of the English transators for bringing out the books in the order they did. Launching with the more sophisticated, well-plotted adventures from the 1940s and late 30s such as Unicorn, Red Rackham and King Ottokar (rather than the earliest, more crudely-plotted stories like Congo and America) no doubt helped hugely in persuading British children and comics-hostile British parents, book reviewers and librarians that the Tintin adventures were books of real quality. But I'm not sure that the internal continuity tweaks they added ever really made the UK editions flow as a fully coherent alternative chronology in the way that you suggest, jock.

The continuity tweaks surely weren't applied consistently enough for that. The example you give of Snowy mentioning Marlinspike at the beginning of Cigars may indeed have convinced a few British readers that Cigars happened after Red Rackham, but no British reader could have thought that The Crab with the Golden Claws happened after Red Rackham since it's clear that this book contains Tintin and Haddock's first meeting. I suppose the English translators could have tried to tweak the dialogue of this first meeting to suggest that Tintin and Haddock had become estranged since the end of Red Rackham, and that Haddock had bizarrely returned to a life of drunken wrechedness, and that Tintin' and Haddock's encounter in the cabin was in fact a reunion rather than a first meeting. But wisely the translators left this one as Hergé wrote it! That's just one example of where the translators decided not to force something into the order the books came out, which surely indicates that chronology tweaks were applied somewhat on the hoof, on the merits of each case - ie: to fudge and smooth over some of the inconsistencies between the order of the books coming out and their actual order, rather than to attempt to create a completely new internally logical chronology to the UK editions.

In any case, I think most of the tweaks simply added confusion. My brother and I quickly worked out that there were pre-Haddock Tintin adventures and post-Haddock ones and it really didn't bother us that we weren't buying or reading them in the right order. Apart from the double-album adventures, we were quite happy to jump from one part of the cannon to another, since each adventure is pretty much self-contained. What did confuse us, when out of interest we began to try to work out which order they actually went in, were some of the English translator's tweaks, such that reference by Snowy to Marlinspike in what was clearly, to us, a pre-Haddock adventure.

I'm not saying that the translators were wrong at the time to attempt these chronology tweaks to parts of the dialogue. But now that the whole series is available in English, I think it would significantly improve the UK editions to simply take all these tweaks out. It could have been done recently when the books were all relettered digitally.

I know that Michael Turner has said that he doesn't want to revise his original translations in this way, but I think he's being over-defensive when it comes to these chronological tweaks, since they now serve to make the books less consistent and logical, rather than more so.

Still, maybe I shouldn't mind about these chronological ideosyncracies in the English translations. After all, it was Hergé himself who stuck a copy of Destination Moon into his 1950s redraw of Cigars, even though he left its 1930s British Empire setting entirely intact. So clearly he liked messing up the logical chronlogy of the books himself!
jock123
Moderator
#3 · Posted: 19 Sep 2007 12:28
Actually I was being nostalgic for, rather than defensive of, the textual tweaking.

I agree entirely that the books (with greatest respect to MT & LL-C, the patron saints of English-language Tintinology) could do with an internal revision to shake out more than just the chronological twists and turns - there is still an odd mix of pre- and post-decimal currency for example.
Now that they are all available, I think that the time is right to get the books into a "re-tweaked" edition; I'd preserve the Anglo-Belgian fantasy of Marlinshire, because I think that adds to the charm of the MT&LL-C canon, but put the books back to the publication order (and I speak as someone who keeps his books in translation order on the shelf!).
But however it works out, the anomolies will need explaining for the moment, and more so now Lake of Sharks as been re-jacketed.
Balthazar
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 19 Sep 2007 14:56
jock123
Actually I was being nostalgic for, rather than defensive of, the textual tweaking.

Fair enough; nostalgia's a different thing.

From a seperate recent thread, I see that you have a similar nostalgia for those old serialized Belvision Tintin cartoons, and I'll admit to sharing that. Even though I know that those cartoons are terrible, and that Hergé himself hated them, I still remember the thrill of them being on during the school holidays (when I was too young to spot or mind their shortcomings).

I think my pleasant memories have as much to do with the carefree joy of not being at school, the holiday novelty of there being children's TV programmes on weekday mornings, and the sunny summer weather at the time, than anything to do with the cartoons themselves. (Of course, any kind of sunny summer is something of a nostalgic memory for us Brits this year.)

If the back of your copy of Lake of Sharks, listing the Methuen Tintin books in their original UK publication order, somehow brings back similarly happy childhood memories, I quite understand.
codales
Member
#5 · Posted: 20 Sep 2007 05:44
So, what was the order of release of the English translations?
Moderator Note: You might want to consult our useful publication guide here.
The Bibliophilic Tintinologist Team
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#6 · Posted: 20 Sep 2007 12:32
Moderator wrote:
You might want to consult our useful publication guide here.
I should point out that this list was devised back in 2004. I have since updated it to fix some mistakes and include more detail with regards serialisations in Le Petit Vingtiemème, Tintin Magazine, b/w editions in French and English, etc. Expect an update very soon!

I think it wouldn't hurt to have a useful ready reckoner in date order within this post. Hence, the order of publication of the English language Methuen/Egmont releases was as follows:
1958
King Ottokar's Sceptre
The Crab with the Golden Claws
1959
The Secret of the Unicorn
Red Rackham's Treasure
Destination Moon
Explorers on the Moon
1960
The Calculus Affair
The Red Sea Sharks
1961 The Shooting Star
1962
The Seven Crystal Balls
Prisoners of the Sun
Tintin in Tibet
1963 The Castafiore Emerald
1966 The Black Island
1968 Flight 714
1971 Cigars of the Pharaoh
1972 Land of Black Gold
1973 Tintin and the Lake of Sharks
1975 The Broken Ear
1976 Tintin and the Picaros
1978 Tintin in America
1983 The Blue Lotus
1999 Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (facsimile edition Sundancer 1989)
2004 Tintin and Alph-Art (first edition Sundancer 1990)
2005 Tintin in the Congo (b/w edition Sundancer 1991)
Balthazar
Moderator
#7 · Posted: 20 Sep 2007 13:04
Harrock n roll

1958
King Ottokar's Sceptre
The Crab with the Golden Claws
1959
The Secret of the Unicorn
Red Rackham's Treasure...


Oh dear. This accurate information completely scuppers the point I made in my first post above that Tintin would illogically have appeared to be having that first meeting with Haddock in The Crab with the Golden Claws after the events of Unicorn and Red Rackham in the Methuen order of publication.

I'd thought (from faulty memory) that The Crab with the Golden Claws was published after Ottokar, Unicorn and Red Rackham, but I stand completely corrected. It looks like the alternative chronology of the UK editions has more internal logic and coherence than I gave it credit for, at least in this respect. Apologies for debating using faulty data, jock!
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 20 Sep 2007 14:12
Balthazar
It looks like the alternative chronology of the UK editions has more internal logic and coherence than I gave it credit for

Well, as mentioned above, it made sense to refer to characters and places that had appeared before, so as not to confuse readers who had been buying them in the order of release. I must admit, the reference to Marlinspike in Cigars of the Pharaoh never really bothered me too much. It seemed to fit in with the messed up chronology with the Sheik showing Tintin his copy of Destination Moon. And Cigars is pretty weird anyway...

However, I think the the worst case of "crappy chronology" came in The Seven Crystal Balls, page 11, where Tintin remarks to the Captain (about Castafiore) "she turns up in the oddest places: Syldavia, Borduria, the Red Sea... she seems to follow us around!"; three errors in one statement! We know that the Captain wasn't in King Ottokar's Sceptre ("she seems to follow us around"), and the idea that the events in The Calculus Affair and The Red Sea Sharks somehow happened before those in The Seven Crystal Balls is ridiculous too.

jock123
Until it was replaced, the back cover was the last resting-place of the chronology of the English translations, and thus the only guide to the continuity of the "Marlinshire" adventures of Tintin.
I have to admit that I wasn't aware that the books listed on the back of Lake of Sharks were in UK publishing order. I'm not sure either that I share jock's belief that the chronological anomolies will need explaining more so now that they've re-ordered them. I think it more likely that tintin fans will look to websites like this one to clear up any chronological confusions.

However, for nostalgic value, I agree it's a bit of a shame!
jock123
Moderator
#9 · Posted: 20 Sep 2007 17:03 · Edited by: jock123
Balthazar
Apologies for debating using faulty data, jock!
None required - I was relying on my memory, which is full of faulty data (I leave scrupulous accuracy to H'n'R!).

Harrock n roll
I wasn't aware that the books listed on the back of Lake of Sharks were in UK publishing order.
Yes; although they place Claws at the top of the list, and vary the placement of other titles within the year groups you have above, the list was accurate up to and including Blue Lotus.
The reason that I knew about it was that it actually remained as a list long after all the other books went over to the little cover pictures, and I was curious to make sense of the order, and worked it out.
It also means that Lake is now lighter to the tune of one picture - the vignette of a view across the lake with a few trees in the foreground has now gone (I think it was at least part of the "missing" section of the view on the front cover, which gets covered by the film-strip panel).
mct16
Member
#10 · Posted: 20 Sep 2007 17:33
I suppose it all goes to show that translators should stick as closely to the original dialogue as possible and not take too many liberties.

A series like Asterix might require elaboration for all its puns and jokes, but conversations that affect chronology (like Snowy in Cigars) are not necessary.

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