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Calculus Affair: for or against?

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John Sewell
Member
#11 · Posted: 9 May 2005 14:58
Must admit, that when I first read it, I was somewhat alarmed that the previously "good" Syldavians seemed to be set against Tintin, who is after all a knight of the realm and a friend of the King! Maybe poor old Muskar had been deposed in the intervening years, or like many a head of state, was simply unaware of the sort of dirty tricks his country's intelligence service was carrying out in his name. I still found it odd that Tintin didn't try to enlist the help of the King, or even mention him though...

Funny, I wasn't aware of any criticism of it either - Benoit Peeters and Michael Farr both seem to be of the opinion that it's Herge at his peak, and probably his finest achievement (though Harry Thompson oddly waves the flag for Flight 714). For me, it just works so well; the initial setting up of the mystery and the gradual uncovering of the plot by Tintin and the Captain is great, and must have worked even better in the original serialised form. Plenty of narrow escapes and suspenseful sequences along the way too!

The attention to detail in the art is superb, and the fictional Borduria is just as convincing and well-observed as any of the real locations seen in the first half of the book. Reflecting the concerns of the time, it also seems logical that, as a stock "villainous" country, Borduria should shift from the earlier presentation as thinly veiled Nazis to a communist dictatorship, complete with Stalinalike leader. After all, that's what happened to quite a few real Eastern European countries in the aftermath of WWII.
jock123
Moderator
#12 · Posted: 9 May 2005 15:38
Karaboudjan
The smaller Guide by Leclerc and Leclerc is extremely harsh
I’m sorry, but I don’t know what this is - who are the Leclercs?

I wasn’t meaning to be unduly argumentative, but I think that you need to have a few concrete references and their credentials to warrant the idea of “so many authorities” being against it; as John points out both Farr and Peeters, who are both very eminent Tintinologists don’t seem to be against it.

In our very own site poll, the book manages a very high score (I’ll admit that I just scanned the list, but it has a very high proportion of 8s, 9s and 10s).
So I just don’t think that there is a ground-swell of disapproval fo this book. Sure there are people against it (they may even be wholly correct!), but I don’t think their opinion is a representitve one.
calculus132
Member
#13 · Posted: 15 May 2005 13:14
Personally I love it. Even if it does introduce Jolyon Wagg (ugh).
I agree. I hate Jolyon Wagg! I loved it when Castafiore called him Mr. Bagg!
Richard
UK Correspondent
#14 · Posted: 15 May 2005 13:33
The "smaller guide" is The Pocket Essential Tintin, written by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficer. I agree it can be harsh at times - awarding The Shooting Star a single mark out of five is ridiculous. I think they might have been trying to look at the series from a neutral standpoint (I'm not sure if they're fans or not, I suppose they must have been to write a book on Tintin) and award marks like that. I must say that I've never read any criticism about The Calculus Affair as harsh as in their book.
rich23434565
Member
#15 · Posted: 15 May 2005 14:42
I cannot understand why anyone would cricticise The Calculas Affair! Like other posters here, I always thought it was highly regarded among both critics and fans (not that you can't be both at the same time!). It's a marvel of taut storytelling, full of incident and character. Even from a neutral standpoint, it's hard not to see the book as a high watermark in Herge's output (along with The Castafiore Emerald and Tintin in Tibet).

Oh well - I guess you can't please all the people all the time :-)
snafu
Member
#16 · Posted: 15 May 2005 16:03
I have always regarded "The Calculus Affair" as being very well written, to the point that even Jolyon Wagg is little more than a detail.

As for the thing about Syldavia, there was no reference to Muskar XII even during "Destination Moon". By then he was practically irrelevant (or might have even had himself or his successors deposed...many countries lost their monarchies between 1918 and after WWII...Spain didn't have its monarchy restored until after "The Calculus Affair"). Also, things can change so much. Friends may change or even leave as identities evolve and shift...who would have expected armed guards ("Destination Moon") during the time of "King Ottokar's Sceptre"? Syldavia was still a faint memory at that episode. So ultimately, I'm not surprised to find changes in Syldavia (look at Alcazar...first friend of Tintin...then tried to kill him...then friend again since "The Seven Crystal Balls"). Things change...
Karaboudjan
Member
#17 · Posted: 17 May 2005 08:11 · Edited by: Moderator
The "smaller guide" is The Pocket Essential Tintin, written by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficer

No wonder no one knew what I was talking about! I knew it was Le or L' something, but since my book is in storage right now, couldn't for the life of me remember what it was! Thanks, Richard!

... and in response to snafu, I'd always thought Muskar had been deposed since the Syldavian adventure. I guess part of the problem is we readers are judging it in terms of 'Tintin' time (which couldn't have been more than ten years), when in real time it had been much longer. The change from an almost mediaeval monarchy to an East Communist Bloc makes more sense within this context.
youngster
Member
#18 · Posted: 17 May 2005 12:38
It's one of my favourites too - as are most of the later books. The Blue Lotus is I think the only one I really love from the early days.

Old Calculus is a bit naive, for all his genius, though, isn't he? I thoroughly believed him getting caught up in a project for the science involved, never really imagining what nefarious purposes the politicians would have for it! Handy that he had all his research on one wee scroll, too - real life scientists who have regretted what their discoveries led too have unfortunately not been in such a lucky position!
jock123
Moderator
#19 · Posted: 17 May 2005 13:33 · Edited by: jock123
Richard
The "smaller guide" is The Pocket Essential Tintin, written by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficer

Ah, I'm with you now! In that case I wouldn't place any great store by them, or it, to be honest - they are jobbing writers, rather than deep-seated fans, or Tintinological experts, I feel.

They produced Doctor Who-related books a few years back, which were useful for immediate reference, as there was little else available at the time, but there were numerous factual errors, and the editorial stuff wasn't up to snuff, really.
Karaboudjan
Member
#20 · Posted: 18 May 2005 18:20 · Edited by: Karaboudjan
Glad to have my faith restored. To hear 'The Calculus Affair' described as an unconvincing 'faux thriller' really knocked me for six. And yes, I agree with Richard that their assessments elsewhere were extremely harsh. Displeasing portrayal of Bohlwinkel aside, 'The Shooting Star' wasn't bad. Certainly one of the more surreal entries in the canon!

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