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Location of Marlinspike Hall?

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Belgium Correspondent
#11 · Posted: 3 Dec 2006 17:43
Do you have the same kind of errors in the English version ?
Harrock n roll
#12 · Posted: 3 Dec 2006 18:17
the same kind of errors in the English version ?
Not as such, only the where the Paris-Flash article mentions "retired Admiral Hammock".

Otherwise the Chelsea Flower Show is a real event in a real place (see here for next years event!)

I suppose strictly speaking you could call the whole article an error because it's mostly what old Calculus told the reporters...
#13 · Posted: 3 Dec 2006 18:18
I didn't know about the deliberately nonsensical geographical descriptions of Belgium in the original version of Bijoux either, so thanks for that interesting info, Chevet. I guess Hergé was having a satirical pop at the innacuracy of that type of journalism, and also at the general ignorance about Belgium on the part of chic Parisians.
A lot of this satirical bite is lost in the English version which, as Harrock says, simply has the Paris Flash journalists making up rubbish about where the "couple" met.

To get back to the original topic, yes Marlinspike (as well as being given a more English-sounding name) was made to seem as if it is in England by the English translators, with changes made to the Unicorn's flag, Francis Haddock's king, and that envelope's address.

Hergé was apparently more than happy with these Anglicizations, made in order to help boost the books' chances of success in the UK, where the market for comic books generally and Tintin particularly had already proven to be difficult, and where British children were believed to be (according to Michael Turner) too chauvenistic to accept a foreign hero! (This subject is well covered elsewhere on this forum).

However, Hergé didn't anglicize the pictures (police uniforms, architecture, driving-side etc) or the narrative geography of the books, so if you want Tintin to really make sense visually, I personally think you have to ignore the occasional Anglicizations of the English versions and accept that Tintin is Belgian.

I agree that the English translations are very good, and that the Anglicizations may well have been a good idea when trying to crack the UK market decades ago, but I don't think we UK Tintin readers are any longer as chauvenist as Methuen believed us to be (if we ever were!)

So, discounting the Anglicizations and discounting Hergé's deliberately nonsensical Paris Flash references to the Ardennes, Flanders and Dutch tulip fields, what do we know?

We know that Marlinspike/ Moulinsart is a shortish car or train ride from Brussels (or a longish dog walk, in the case of Snowy's loyal trek in The Secret of the Unicorn.)

And we know that, since Sir Francis was given the mansion and land by a French king (in the original), it makes sense to think Marlinspike/ Moulinsart lies in a part of Belgium that once formed part of France, or at least French-owned territory.

I don't know how much that narrows it down.

Are there any more clues in the text of the original books? Or visual clues? Are any details of the Belgian policemen's uniforms indicative of a particular region, for instance, or any of the landscape features suggestive of a particular area?
Harrock n roll
#14 · Posted: 3 Dec 2006 19:20
Are there any more clues in the text of the original books?
The name Moulinsart itself might offer us a clue as it’s derived from Sart-Moulin, a small village near Waterloo...

...in Walloon Brabant, Belgium, not London ;-)
Tintin Quiz
#15 · Posted: 4 Dec 2006 00:15
I think it's best to view the English translation as a separate work, not just a derivative of the original French. Who knows how many millions of readers know Tintin only from the English translations?

It might be interesting to see a new translation of the books, more true to the original... or it might be a big disappointment. (I know I'd love to see The Annotated Tintin, equivalent to The Annotated Alice or The Annotated Sherlock Holmes.)

The Tintin canon, after all, evolved over several decades. It's not one object, created at one time. You might as well criticize The Blue Lotus because Herge veered radically from his previous very cartoonish view of the world into a much more realistic view.

In the English translations, Marlinspike is in England and Haddock is English. Tintin's origins, however, remains vague.
#16 · Posted: 4 Dec 2006 09:29
footnotes added if there were puns. Not too hard.

Mybe not hard - but absolutely deadly to the fun of a joke! The lengths you'd have to go to explain a pun that's taken place in a foreign language would undoubtedly be beyond the capacaity for the margins of a children's comic to contain - plus you would have done nothing to convey that the original remark was there to make someone laugh. Translation isn't about just slavishly making matches of words, it has to contain the same emotion and sentiment as the author intended.
Hergé names a place in Khemed "Bir El Embik"; that's a punning reference to "bier Lambic" and "bir 'al 'iinbiq", the Arabic "Well of Al-Anbiq". By the time that you had explained what each of these is, and how they interrelate to make a pun, you have really not a hope of holding your audience.
However, by rendering this place as "Bir Keg" in the English, you hold onto the most significant parts of Hergé's text - that an Arab well combines with beer to form a joke, and you are done and dusted: no footnotes, no explanations, and a laugh!

Tintin Quiz:
In the English translations, Marlinspike is in England and Haddock is English. Tintin's origins, however, remains vague.

There isn't actually anything in the English editions which says that Captain Haddock is English, per se, nor even that he is British; in that respect his origin is as vague as that of Tintin...!
#17 · Posted: 4 Dec 2006 10:27
In the English translations, Marlinspike is in England.

That's not exactly true. Admittedly, in the text of the English translations, Marlinspike is in England. And in one or two altered visual details of the English translations (the Unicorn's flag, an addressed envelope), Marlinspike is in England.

But in the pictures of the English translations, the local police uniforms are still Belgian, the cars still drive on the right, the city near Marlinspike (where Tintin also has his flat in the earlier books) looks a lot like Brussels and not a lot like a British city architecturally, and the transport that Tintin takes to reach Britain in The Black Island looks an awful lot like a cross-channel ferry!

So, unless you read Tintin without looking at the pictures, it's clearly not possible to read the English translations of the Tintin books as a "seperate work" that's set in England. It just doesn't make sense within its own terms.

You can read the English translations focussing in on the few anglicized addresses, monarchs etc but ignoring all the pictures, and convince yourself that Marlinspike is in England. Or you can read the English translations looking at the pictures properly and ignoring the few anglicized addresses, monarchs etc, and accept that Marlinspike is in Belgium. Neither way makes complete sense, but I prefer the latter way!

It might be interesting to see a new translation of the books, more true to the original
Yes, I think it would, in terms of undoing these anglicizations. As I've said, I think the English translations are generally great (not that I understand anything like enough French to be able to compare them with the originals). Hergé was clearly happy with them and there were convincing reasons for the decision to anglicize the address of Marlinspike etc when the first Methuen translations were done. But although Michael Turner has said that he wouldn't want to change or revise what they did then, he has admitted (in a slightly different context) that they might have underestimated the British readership. He said this when talking about the English translation of The Blue Lotus which Methuen had thought would seem too historical for UK children, but which sold fine when they finally got round to translating it. But I think the thing about underestimating the readership might now carry over to this issue of anglicizing the books' Belgian settings. I think that, in this day and age, British children may no longer need sheltering from the fact that their hero Tintin and his friends are "foreigners"!

So I think a slightly tweaked, re-Belgianized English translation would be a great idea for our more Europe-friendly 21st century and for today's generation of less jingoistic (I hope!) British kids. Apart from finally making the words and pictures make sense with each other, the publicity such a revision would generate would be great for Egmont's sales of the books, I'm sure!
#18 · Posted: 4 Dec 2006 11:42
the transport that Tintin takes to reach Britain in The Black Island looks an awful lot like a cross-channel ferry!
It is possible to read the ferry voyage as Tintin coming back from a continental holiday to England, where he lives (in the English books)…

Actually, I had no more problem believing that Tintin lived in England than I did thinking that D.C. Thompson’s Desperate Dan lived in the Wild West, albeit one where everyone lived in tenement houses, with distinctly British fixtures and fittings… I just switched off the “reality” switch in my brain, and that was that…
#19 · Posted: 4 Dec 2006 12:37
Jock 123
It is possible to read the ferry voyage as Tintin coming back from a continental holiday to England, where he lives (in the English books)
That's true, and I see that in the interesting discussion thread you've given a link to, someone's highlighted the fact that the English translation has the Thompsons talking about going "back" to England near the start of the book to bolster the idea that Tintin was on holiday in Belgium. But my point is, why continue with all these fudges at all in the UK editions these days? (A question for Egmont, not for you, I know!) Every tweak which the translators made to prop up the idea that Tintin could be British usually simply leads to another inconsistency elsewhere, or, in the case of The Black Island, weakens the power of the story. If it's made to seem that Tintin is merely touring round his own country, then the whole fun element of Britain and all its archetypes being explored by a young Belgian visiting for the first time is lost, and that's a shame, as I think British child readers would find this angle interesting.

Re your second point, jock, you're right that massive liberties and surreal juxtapositions occur in the world of Desperate Dan (and in other Dandy and Beano strips too) and, like you, I certainly enjoyed those strips without this bothering me. But the world of those comics has a much more elastic, knockabout feel than the world of Tintin. And the surreal geographical iconsistencies in Desperate Dan were put there by the strip's creator, (the great Dudley D Watkins) whereas the geographical inconsistencies in the Methuen Tintin books were put there by translators, and are at odds with the realistic flavour of Tintin. Although fully authorised and possibly necessary at the time (and not very bothersome to me as a child), I do think the English versions of the books would become even stronger if these anglicizations were now dropped and Hergé's lovingly-depicted and beautifully detailed Brussels and Belgian settings were allowed to shine through un-fudged!

Completely off topic, it's interesting that whilst everyone would know that Tintin was created by Hergé, the way you attributed Desperate Dan to his publisher only - "D.C. Thompson's Desperate Dan" - is quite a common way of referring to such British strips. Dudley D Watkins, in spite of having created and drawn many household-name British comic characters - Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty, Black Bob, Oor Wullie, The Broons and quite a few others - is not the household name he deserves to be himself.

Maybe this says a lot about the status of comic writers and artists in the UK compared to Belgium (and quite a bit about the crediting and copyright practices of a certain Dundee-based comic publisher in particular!)
#20 · Posted: 4 Dec 2006 13:13
the strip's creator, (the great Dudley D Watkins)
I actually was surprised on searching the forums just now that the great Dudley D. doesn't seem to feature, although I could have sworn that I'd actually posted about him before in a discussion with tybaltstone about proto-clear line artists...

My fudging of the attribution was simply because I couldn't recall if he was the creator or not - I wince when I see Alfred Bestall attributed as the creator of Rupert for example, so I erred on the side of caution!
I agree that he may not get the recognition he deserves, but on the other hand, he did have the distinction of being an artist who got to sign his strips, and The Sunday Post was still cycling his original stories on Oor Wullie and The Broons well into the seventies, when Ken Harrison took over, I think (Alan Morley also got to sign his Hungry Horace, Keyhole Kate and Nero and Zero strips too).

By the by, Black Bob wasn't a Watkins creation, it started as a text-story series, which only later developed into the strip illustrated by (Wikipedia tells me) Jack Prout, a name I didn't know, but who's art was superb.

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