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Tintin and the Secret of Literature

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1862078314
ISBN-10: 1862078319
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...[Offers] entertaining insights into one of the most celebrated of all comic strips." -- The Independent (UK)

"A high-spirited double riff on the comic books and the theory alike." -- Evening Standard (UK)

"He picks up such potentially dry notions with...flair and humour, weaving them through the books with...highly un-academic glee." -- Sunday Herald (Glasgow)

"[Tin Tin and the Secret of Literature demonstrates] that Herge's oeuvre is as...symbolically resonant as Proust or Shakespeare...fascinating." -- The Observer (UK)

"[His] chatty style is so forcefully confident and his argument so tightly constructed and so well-supported...It's brilliant." -- Daily Telegraph (UK) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Tom McCarthy's novel Remainder was recently published to critical acclaim.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Granta UK (October 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862078319
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862078314
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,333,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Humberto Lucero on May 5, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read other books by McCarthy and this one does not live up to his previous work. In fact this book sounds more like a short review in a weekly magazie, with the drawback of its length, as if it were an attempt to some text book to read in class.
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Format: Paperback
This interestingly written catalog of things Tintin for his grownup fans sticks to the strips (including the tightly packed panels you lingered over, or not) with excursions historical, heretical and philosophical. You won't drown in Derrida and Bataille, just get your feet wet. The interpretations build on the familiar adventures they visit and revisit and on themselves as well, all in a style that's as clear, fast-moving and full of surprises as Tintin's. It's an easy read even for those of us who think la Théorie belabors the agnosticism of language (as of any human belief system) with its metaphors like money, which has no absolute backing but works contingently, perfectly, until trust panics and collapses. It's hardly news that naïve realists think words come with guarantees--refer self-evidently to objects in a real world--and are disappointed, that is, ils font tintin. Again, this is for adults. Its vocabulary level, intricacy and adult themes are not for children.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading Tintin and the Secret of Literature because of its many thought-provoking ideas. The author applies techniques from literary analysis and compares the Tintin stories with famous works of literature. Overall I liked the book. However, I do not necessarily agree with the author. This is not a historical account of how the Tintin stories came about, i.e., the author has no extra background information to add to what is already out there. Instead, he gleans his ideas from the texts themselves. This leads to lots of speculation and tenuous chains of inferences. A key theme that occupies a third of the book rests on the premise that the insignia above Marlinspike Hall is a dolphin. I looked at the original Tintin book myself and, to me, it looks like a fish - a Haddock perhaps, but not a dolphin. While written like a scholarly book and well-grounded in philosophical and literary writing, the scholarship is somewhat shoddy and unconvincing. Still it was interesting read, though it gets tedious near the end thanks to the repetition of the same ideas.

Aptly enough, the book ends with a discussion of all the piracy, rip-offs, and rackets surrounding the Tintin books, completely escaping the irony that this book itself is one of those attempts to make a buck out of Tintin's fame. In any case, it left me with a desire to re-read all my Tintin books yet one more time, perhaps even in the French version so I can get the hidden references that didn't make it into English.
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Format: Paperback
I read all the Tintin books first, or, as I found out in Mr. McCarthy's excellent book, all the ones I had known about, even the infamous Tintin in the Congo book that's no longer available in English (I "read" the German version), but I soon discovered that I'll have to read them all again, for McCarthy has given me a new set of eyes in which to view the books. I've not read other books by this author, but I plan to. I'd recommend this book in particular to anyone who wants to find a way of meaningfully interpret what they read. And McCarthy bases his ideas not just on what he thinks is happening in the Hergé books, but also on the known history of the great Belgian graphic artist. (As a note to other readers, I read the Granta Books edition, which has a different cover than the one being sold by Amazon.)
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Format: Paperback
This book is essentially a PhD thesis about the 'hidden layers' beneath the Tintin comics. And it reads exactly like a PhD thesis: one for the devotees only.

I really wonder what Hergé would have made of this book. As much as I admire the genius of the Belgian master, something about <em>Tintin and the Secret of Literature</em> feels like shooting a fly with a cannon. Enormous scholarly leaps of logic are made, such as "The Castafiore Emerald" being a metaphor for Bianca Castafiore's clitoris. Seriously!

This book is a page-turner, in the pejorative sense. I was constantly skipping forward, wondering if McCarthy was approaching any sort of worthwhile conclusion. The answer, for me, was no.

For the record, Harry Thompson's "Tintin: Herge and His Creation" is the best analytical book I have read on Tintin, to this date. Rather than attempting to describe the Tintin canon with McCarthy's subject-by-subject grouping, Thompson works effectively in a chronological book-by-book evaluation of Tintin and Hergé's career. Thompson's book is concise and unadorned with the lavish illustrations of the officially-sanctioned "Tintin: The Complete Companion", but it remains the most effective and efficient Tintin chronicle.
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