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

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jock123
Moderator
#11 · Posted: 10 Nov 2011 12:34
mct16:
I find the publishers' reasoning quite frankly ridiculous.

You don’t seem to ever want to give any credit to the fact that Casterman, Methuen and Cº, plus the other foreign publishers, knew a thing or two about selling books, do you?

Considering all that they did to make Tintin a success, it’s only fair to say that though you may not understand it, it isn’t ridiculous if it got the book published when it otherwise wouldn’t have been.

mct16:
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.

I’d presume it was a fairly sound idea, as it appears to have worked!
The property having been touted to foreign publishers as part of a two-parter (which was refused), the re-jigging of the book to sever ties with the unwanted Lotus was a fairly nifty idea, and a clever one at that. The map as originally included was to tell you that the book was part of the longer adventure when combined with Lotus. By taking a new approach, revising the map and the dialogue, the book becomes a definite stand-alone, and can be re-presented to foreign buyers on that basis. I really can’t see the problem.

mct16:
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"

It’s a real stretch you are making there - the map isn’t changed because it mentions Shanghai - it’s changed because it doesn’t need to mention Shanghai!

Again, please credit Hergé and his Studio (who after all carried out the alterations to the book) with knowing what they were about.
mct16
Member
#12 · Posted: 10 Nov 2011 15:47 · Edited by: mct16
So, we're having a debate anyway.

But I still do not agree with the reasoning. As you yourself point out, "Cigars" and "Blue Lotus" are pretty much treated as separate books, so why change the whole voyage just so that Shanghai is not mentioned as the final destination?

They could have easily have made it Hong Kong - which is included in the original French itinerary - and which British readers could have identified with, given its colonial status at the time.

There is another thing. If they went to so much trouble to modify the opening page then why did they not do the same with the closing page? When the Maharaja tells him: "Good job, you dismantled an evil gang", Tintin, who actually looks uneasy, answers "Who knows? Only the future will tell." Even in the old English version, he seems to doubt if this really is the end of the matter. Even more so than the opening page, this is a strong hint about a sequel which, you claim, the publishers had no intention of even translating at that stage.

Personally, I'm putting this down to poor salesmanship and the narrow-mindedness of publishers, who can't help thinking of their readers as idiots as opposed to intelligent people. It's like some people said that "Harry Potter" should be banned because it encouraged the use of black magic!

P.S.: take a look at this webpage which includes the opening page of a French edition where Tintin describes the itinerary which will take them to Shanghai, but the map is that of the Mediterranean cruise. Sigh!
jock123
Moderator
#13 · Posted: 28 Nov 2011 20:55 · Edited by: jock123
mct16:
why change the whole voyage just so that Shanghai is not mentioned as the final destination?

The answer to that just has to be, why ever not...? At the end of the day, it's a minor minor point in the scheme of things, it's what they did, and I'm more than happy to live with it... :-)

mct16:
They could have easily have made it Hong Kong - which is included in the original French itinerary - and which British readers could have identified with, given its colonial status at the time.

I can sort of see your point –even if I don't agree with it!– for not making a change; this alternate change isn't any better than the one they made, as it appears to be completely arbitrary. I can't see why Hong Kong suddenly enters the fray, when the a circular cruise at least delivers Tintin home. That has a purpose to it.

mct16:
the Maharaja tells him: "Good job, you dismantled an evil gang", Tintin, who actually looks uneasy, answers "Who knows? Only the future will tell."

I have to say I think that's subjective: it just shows that Tintin is, as ever, pragmatic.

mct16:
Even more so than the opening page, this is a strong hint about a sequel which, you claim, the publishers had no intention of even translating at that stage.

No, it just says that every time Tintin has put paid to a criminal gang in the past, another one pops up else where; he knows that crime is never ending, and he's probably pretty resigned to the fact that he'll sniff out another conspiracy somewhere before too long. It doesn't have to be a sequel, it's just any of his adventures. I'm also not sure what you mean by "claim" - it's just a fact that that was the case.

mct16:
Personally, I'm putting this down to poor salesmanship and the narrow-mindedness of publishers, who can't help thinking of their readers as idiots as opposed to intelligent people.

That's a rather high-handed attitude, if I may say so; taking the time out to think of a workable strategy to get your product out to the maximum audience possible is good, not poor, salesmanship.
The narrow-mindedness is surely yours - if they'd thought the readership were idiots, they would never have argued as hard against opposition to give us the books in English in the first place!

Just because you treat the publishers as if they were idiots, doesn't mean that the converse holds: having talked at some length on more than one occasion to the British translators, nothing in what they said suggested that they would have wished on you any of the contempt that you have just shown them.

Given their undoubted expertise, and your total lack of experience, in publishing, I've got to give them the benefit of the doubt.

mct16:
the opening page of a French edition where Tintin describes the itinerary which will take them to Shanghai, but the map is that of the Mediterranean cruise. Sigh!

This is also how the page appeared when reprinted in 1976 in the Journal Tintin; the frequency with which this map can be found begins to suggest that the map is right, and the dialogue is wrong... ;-)
Carly Atha
Member
#14 · Posted: 14 Dec 2012 18:10
Good question.
So that explains Snowy's reference to Marlinspike before Captain Haddock or, just as importantly, Professor Calculus, appear!(In case there is anyone who hasnt read the books yet (lol) - spoiler alert: It is Calculus who purchases the estate using money from his patent on the submarine that he was able to test thanks to the Tintin/ Haddock expedition).
It also helps to explain why, on the next page, Tintin 'recognises' Rastapopoulos, whom he has not actually encountered yet, before even!
Thank you.
I'm now finally the proud owner of the complete Tintin box set, even if I may go blind from reading the tiny print due to the small book size (I dont recommend it!)! I am loving reading the books that weren't available in the libraries that I have borrowed from over the years and I am therefore less familiar with. I am an amateur Tintinologist :)
sondonista
Member
#15 · Posted: 15 Dec 2012 00:09
While I have problems with the translators because of things like this and the problems in chronology, I actually kind of like the Mediterranean itinerary. Herge of course always planned to take Tintin to the far east but Tintin himself doesn't necessarily appear to be going that way, particularly at the end of Cigars and the beginning of Lotus - when the messenger comes, he says right then I'll have to go to Shanghai as if it was not on the agenda. He's also made himself at home at the Maharajahs.

I view an itinerary to the east as a way of showing Petit Vingtieme readers where Tintin might be heading and nothing more... it just seems odd that having left his cruise at the very beginning he just so happens to have to go to all of the places he would have anyway but completely seperately and without acknowledgement of that fact.
mct16
Member
#16 · Posted: 13 Mar 2013 14:44
According to Marsbar:

the Chinese edition... is supposed to be based on the English translation

I wonder if they repeated Snowy's "Marlinspike" comment?

Does anyone know if it is really the case that the Chinese used the English translation? I'm a bit surprised by this because I'd imagine that a country like China would have a few French-speakers. There are many examples of Chinese being acquainted with French-speakers - Herge and Zhang Chongren being a good example.

Does anyone know the background of the Chinese translation and if Snowy's reference to Marlinspike was included?
jock123
Moderator
#17 · Posted: 14 Mar 2013 16:51 · Edited by: jock123
sondonista:
While I have problems with the translators because of things like this and the problems in chronology,

You are ascribing decisions in the choices used about publication, to the work of the translators; these aren't the same thing! Hergé and his studios revised the books; Casterman published them, and sold them abroad, and Methuen set about publishing what they had in English. While that simplifies somewhat, and doesn't touch on the fact that the translators took their jobs very seriously indeed, and consulted heavily with Hergé about any points upon which they held doubts, it certainly should remove any doubt that it was caprice on the part of Michael Turner and Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper which accounts for changes or discrepancy in the dialogue and story telling.

mct16:
Does anyone know if it is really the case that the Chinese used the English translation?

Yes, insofar as it was true at the time of writing - why doubt the redoubtable Marsbar? ;-)
You may be sceptical, but until the Chinese edtions were re-translated by Wang Bingdong in 2010, the previous books were indeed versions of the English-language books.

mct16:
I'd imagine that a country like China would have a few French-speakers.

Probably, but then again, there are still more English speakers (it's even an official language, given the history of Hong Kong), and that's assuming that a Chinese person was even involved: the translator may have been an English-speaker who translated them into Chinese...
Carly Atha
Member
#18 · Posted: 8 Aug 2013 21:04 · Edited by: Moderator
Thanks to jock123 for their extensive and well thought out answers to the question of continuity.
I for one am grateful that Tintin exists in English translation and find it to be excellent quality.
I will take the advice to live with the tiny 'quirks' and can say I greatly enjoy the Tintin books still, even after 30 years of re-reading them.
When I recently came across similar critisisms of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam as translated by Edward Fitzgerald, this discussion and the moderator's wise response came into my mind.
Again, yes, I am overwhelmingly grateful that the Rubaiyat was made accessible to me and find Fitzgerald's translation to be excellent. Beautiful even.
'Awake for morning in the bowl of night has flung the stone that sets the stars to flight'! :)

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