· Posted: 29 May 2007 02:34
Before I begin, I must state that I haven't got the book to hand and haven't read it in a while. Now, I'm as much as a fan of Tintin as the next member of this forum, but I hold my hand up and declare that I quite enjoyed Tintin in the New World. No, it's not an adventure like Hergé would have written, and in my earlier post in this thread I came at the book from the wrong angle - as if it were trying to be an Adventure of Tintin, which in hindsight it isn't.
The fact that Tuten used Hergé's characters gets the book off the ground to begin with. Instead of explaining the personalities of his protagonists, Tuten took an existing character who's well known and used that as a starting point. Whether it be Tintin, Sherlock Holmes or even Bertie Wooster is a bit irrelevant - but with Tintin, there's always been that air of mystery, that emptiness to his character. Of course, this is what helped him to become universally popular, but as a personality he's so bland that Tuten experimented with 'filling in the gaps'. Essentially it's a hook; I doubt I'd have picked up a book labelled 'a romance' had Tintin not been on the cover.
The book itself, I thought, was well written. I know a lot of people were turned off by the language and the philosophical interludes amongst other things - there's a back-story that runs to about a chapter if I remember rightly, separate from the extended dream sequence. I thought a lot of the language conjured up some vivid images, mainly in the dream, which could have come straight from a work by Dalí or Chirico.
The sex, drugs and suicide - as opposed to rock 'n' roll - didn't strike me as particularly extreme when I first read it. Many would argue that he didn't have to include them at all, but as Tuten was resolved to anyway, I felt he handled it in a relatively sensitive manner. It's not like Tintin was out of his head on crack and sleeping with prostitutes; Tuten was dealing with the concept of love (as far as I can remember!) and the passion that this brought into Tintin's life. You could even argue he tried to show the effect it had on his friends, as ultimately he abandons both Snowy and Haddock. Whether it's a destructive force or not, it had a profound effect on Tintin.
I doubt many children would read this book in the first place. One glance at the blurb is enough to tell you that it isn't a kids book - check the quotes on the covers - and, as Ranko and Balthazar have pointed out, a glance at the first page is enough to confirm this. Additionally I think there's far worse things on TV for parents to worry about their children watching than fretting about them getting their hands on a copy of this novel. Lady Chatterley's Lover it ain't.
I sincerely doubt that Tintin in the New World is going to damage anyone's view of Tintin, and if it upsets the reader then surely that's the hallmark of good fiction - it arouses feelings, positive or negative? Whether you like it or not, the book was published in 1993 and we're still debating its merits fourteen years down the line.
Funnily enough the jacket for the book tell of this as Tintin's greatest "adventure" yet. I don't think this was an "adventure". What was adventurous about it?
I'd imagine that the 'adventure' referred to the events of Tintin's inner life - his experience of love for the first time and the possible future that's presented in the dream sequence. After having experienced sex for the first time, he ends up committing murder and then taking his own life. It's not an adventure like Hergé would have written, but Tintin's quest for inner peace following his sexual awakening and the inevitable end to his life must surely count as an adventure.
The letter that you referred to was a MacGuffin, a plot device to get the characters to Peru. It's been a long time since I've read the book - did the Lieutenant not send the letter? I seem to vaguely recall that; was it not something to do with Tintin being the Jaguar Prince?