Sunday, September 1, 2013


Au Pays de L'Or Noir
Photo Source: Hergé, 1950. Au Pays de L'Or Noir.
 Fac-similé de l’édition ed. Tournai: Casterman.
                          Scanned Pg.1

'70s' and '80s' Bengali generations grew up with Tintin. 

For those of us who went, by mistake, by choice, or by compulsion, to Bangla medium schools, discovered Tintin through Anandamela.

Those days Anandamela was the Magazine for the kids, despite Sandesh still running under the provocative guidance of Satyajit Ray, and Kishore Bharati.

Nurtured under an apt editorship of Nirendranath Chakraborty, Anandamela brought many major writers of that time to wield the pen for teenagers, and young adults.

But, the stickiest attraction was Tintin, translated directly from the French original. Much later, we would come to know the translator.

 When I started learning English, in early teens, again Tintin was the closest friend.

Those days, thanks to the erstwhile government of West Bengal, students would learn ABCD from the 6th class. And the teaching was through translation.

Tintin came to the rescue when all other methods failed. A strikingly cinematic (say, contemporary, maybe even futuristic) narration kept our attention to the pages. New words in the dialogues and descriptions never halted the flow. They just enhanced the enjoyment.

English used to get automatically better each time we finished a book.

Amazingly so, if we remember even the English Methuen (and later, Egmont and Casterman) books were only translations. They are probably the best examples of how interesting translations can be good guides to a language.

Tintin was the first guide to the language of cinema for many of us. I guess it would have been equally so for Satyajit Ray who mentioned the comics a number of times, in his writing.

Tintin taught us how to say Meanwhile (the idea of parallel editing), or how to close in from a location frame on to a close up portrait of a single character, or the duo.

The idea of shot division also sprang up from Tintin.

Again, when I started learning French, in the university days, Tintin was the guide. This time, in original, I came to appreciate how close the English translation was to the French bande dessinée.

Each Tintin character was reference to someone in our schooldays. A Professor Calculus, or Captain Haddock, Or the famous detective duo were among us, sometimes in a teacher, sometimes in someone else's parents.

We came to know about the journey to the moon, and about the nuclear reactor, not from the newspaper. Tintin guided us there too.

Of course there was the racial, neocolonial politics prevailing. But, our restive minds were probably not much tainted by that.

Tintin meant adventure for us.

After thirty years it is still the same.