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Cigars of the Pharaoh: Is Snowy’s comment an error?

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rjm49
Member
#1 · Posted: 29 Jun 2011 21:22 · Edited by: Moderator
Recently bought The Crab with the Golden Claws and on the first page Snowy comments, that instead of the long cruise, he would 'settle for Marlinspike'.
I though Marlinspike didn't come into to the Tintin story until The Secret of the Unicorn, so am confused by the early mention of it in this story.
Any ideas why?
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 30 Jun 2011 13:39 · Edited by: jock123
rjm49:
Any ideas why?

Oh yes! Welcome to the forums, rjm49; you've hit on a common question, and indeed there is an answer.Well, actually, there's an answer if you mean Cigars of the Pharaoh...

The potted history is thus: the books, when brought to foreign markets, tended not to be translated in publication order.

The first attempt at English was in 1952 (amongst other languages), when Casterman chose Ottokar, Unicorn and Red Rackham to break into the international market. In English Ottokar was serialized in the Eagle comic, and the other two were released as books: the experiment was not a success, and the series foundered.

Moving along to 1958, and Methuen stepped in, and took on the series. It was a gamble: the lack of success of the earlier attempt made the endeavour risky, and there was no established habit of comics appearing as what amounted to what we'd call graphic novels - there were comic annuals, of course - such as the Eagle, Beano, Dandy, etc. had, but these had a distinct shelf-life, and were really glorified periodicals.

It is not clear who decided what books came out when - it might have been controlled by Casterman, it might have been the decision of the regional publishers, it might even have been at the behest of Hergé - but it was decided to give the series a second chance, again focusing on what were seen as the stronger titles.

Soviets was by then out of circulation (this was at Hergé's request); Congo was seen as problematic, as was Blue Lotus, so it appears that Cigars wasn't looked on as a contender for publication at this time either, being thought of as a companion piece to Lotus.

So, anyway, the books started being translated: with the full series not available, and the possibility that each new title might be the last if the 1952 experience were to be repeated, emphasis was placed upon introducing what were seen as the strongest books first - to establish the series - and on making the internal continuity fit the order in which the books were being brought out.

After a while (as I mentioned here) a means of getting Cigars into the series without the need for Lotus was worked out, and that too became available (in its revised 1955 re-drawn version).

Therefore, when Snowy makes his remark, Marlinspike was already in the series, because Red Rackham was one of the first books to be translated, and thus "pre-dated" Cigars.

In some ways this actually was a benefit, because - following the re-vamp of its content - it was clearly drawn in a more modern style than the chronologically early books with which it had once rubbed shoulders, and also now included the otherwise anachronistic depiction of the cover of Destination Moon, placed there by Hergé to promote that book.

By making it textually a later book than Rackham and Destination Moon those problems that the new-style art and Moon book causes to the time-line are smoothed over to an extent.
rjm49
Member
#3 · Posted: 30 Jun 2011 15:54
Well that certainly answers any question, and some!

I find the translation problems across Tintin very fascinating. Particularly the heavily redrafted Congo.

Thanks for the speedy response!
Richard1631978
Member
#4 · Posted: 30 Jun 2011 20:53
IIRC the 1952 books weren't translated by Michael Turner and Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper, but by a Belgian interpreter skilled in English.
jock123
Moderator
#5 · Posted: 30 Jun 2011 22:11
Richard1631978:
a Belgian interpreter skilled in English.

I’m not certain that that has ever been fully documented: the identity of the translator has always been a bit of a mystery, and the translation is fairly pedestrian. It has been suggested that the work was done by an unknown nun; more likely is the suggestion that it was someone on the staff of Casterman who did it.
Jelsemium
Member
#6 · Posted: 9 Nov 2011 21:10
I've been reading the library's copies, but I finally broke down and bought a few of my own. The map at the beginning of Cigars of the Pharaoh looked different, so I checked the library's copy out again.

I find it interesting that the library's copy shows Tintin's itinerary as going around the Mediterranean while the map in my newer(?) copy shows him going through the Suez Canal and over to Asia.

In the library book, Tintin tells Snowy that they're going to Port Said, then to Istanbul, Piraeus, (even though Piraeus comes before Istanbul on the map), Naples, Marseilles, back home through the Straits of Gibraltar.

In the newer book, the list is: Port Said, the Suez Canal, Aden, Bombay, Colombo and then finishing in Shanghai.
Harry Hayfield
Member
#7 · Posted: 9 Nov 2011 23:24
I've got Port Said, Aden, Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai in mine. Does that mean I have I have a newer version as well?
mct16
Member
#8 · Posted: 10 Nov 2011 01:25
Jelsemium:
map in my newer(?) copy shows him going through the Suez Canal and over to Asia.

Harry Hayfield:
I've got Port Said, Aden, Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai in mine.

This is the itinerary described by Tintin in the original French edition. When it was translated into English, the translators, for reasons of their own, restricted the route to a Mediterranean cruise rather than a journey half-way around the world.

The more recent edition, which you must own, is a more faithful translation of the route.
jock123
Moderator
#9 · Posted: 10 Nov 2011 08:56 · Edited by: jock123
mct16:
When it was translated into English, the translators, for reasons of their own, restricted the route to a Mediterranean cruise rather than a journey half-way around the world

There’s a perfectly good explanation for the change, and there’s no reason to make it sound like the translators did it out of caprice; I know you like to promote the idea that they did a bad job, but it’s unfair to make it sound like they changed something on a whim. We can’t even say the translators were involved in the change - it may have been given to them with the revised text.

Casterman had a problem because many of their foreign publishers were not taking Blue Lotus, due to the depiction of drug use in the opium den, and the possibly offensive ethnic stereotypes portrayed.

Because it was seen as a continuing story, having been originated as one ongoing adventure called Tintin in the Orient, it meant that Cigars was also difficult to place.

Then someone somewhere, and we don’t know who, realized that, unlike the other double album stories, you could treat Cigars as a single album if you just removed the mention of Tintin being on a journey to Shanghai.

A new version was prepared, with the circular cruise map, and Tintin talking about that. This is what was used for the English and some other translations.

Over the years, however, there seem to have been issues with the printing of the book, and the art has been mixed: sometimes the map has shown the trip to Shanghai, with the text still talking about the Med; but also a Finnish edition was published with Tintin talking about the trip to Shanghai, an the map showing the cruise.
mct16
Member
#10 · Posted: 10 Nov 2011 12:01
Jock123
Well, to use your own words, I think I'll still "promote the idea that they did a bad job".

You've given a good explanation for this confusion - as always - but I find the publishers' reasoning quite frankly ridiculous. After all, when he is describing the itinerary, Tintin does not say anything like: "Snowy, once we reach Shanghai, we'll break up a gang of ruthless drug smugglers." At that stage of the game, the very first page, he is simply on a pleasure cruise, nothing more.

He only ends up in Shanghai itself due to the incident with the Chinaman on the Maharadja's balcony in "The Blue Lotus".

jock123:
Then someone somewhere, and we don’t know who, realized that, unlike the other double album stories, you could treat Cigars as a single album if you just removed the mention of Tintin being on a journey to Shanghai.

I don't want to start a whole debate about it, but quite frankly I just do not see why they had to remove even passing references to Shanghai just because it is the focus of an album few were expecting to publish.

It's like saying that the mere mention of the city would bring to the reader's mind "the depiction of drug use in the opium den, and the possibly offensive ethnic stereotypes portrayed" even if they had never heard of Shanghai or "Blue Lotus" before then.

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