Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Matthew Parris: Tintin & Me

Shockwaves ran through continental Europe. The Belgian press were in uproar. Nannies in English stately homes wept openly. Everyone can remember where they were on that morning seven years ago when I outed Tintin in The Times.

Once aired, the theory was obvious, irrefutable. It stared us in the face. An androgynous youth with an extravagant quiff, formerly of the boy scouts, moves in to the country house of a retired middle-aged sailor — his best friends two chaps in matching “his’”and “his” outfits and his only known female friends an opera diva and a curler-wearing virago. Hello? as they say. Tintin’s mincing white toy dog turns out to be almost the only heterosexual male among the leading characters of Tintin’s creator Hergé.

And Tintin’s love-interest? A Chinese boy called Chang Chong-Chen, of a mystical frame of mind, who he rescues from drowning, who appears in his dreams, and who (near the end of Hergé’s writing career) Tintin risks his life to rescue in Tibet. Believing Chang dead, Tintin weeps: only three times in his life is he seen to cry.

Hergé wrote Tintin in Tibet after a nervous breakdown, and separating from his wife. As a young man Hergé had had an intense friendship with a young Chinese student, whom this most reserved Belgian described as a kind of soulmate.

This last fact I had not known, but learnt last Thursday at the Tintin exhibition just ended at Somerset House in London. For Tintinologists the exhibition was full of interest, but I have to report that the truth about our young hero’s life was completely suppressed. Not a hint. Not even an acknowledgment of rumour. Has my whole career in journalism, my seven years as a trustee of Index on Censorship, all been in vain? 

Maffew Parrish in ver Times. 

Maybe best to keep your wank fantasies to yourself, Matthew.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. What a completely horrible picture that is :(