Tintin and the Secret of Literature
Hergé's Tintin cartoon adventures have been translated into more than 50 languages and read by tens of millions of children ages—as their publishers like to say—"from 7 to 77." Arguing that their characters are as strong and their plots as complex as any dreamt up by the great novelists, Tom McCarthy asks a simple question: Is Tintin literature? Taking a cue from Tintin himself, who spends much of his time tracking down illicit radio signals, entering crypts, and decoding puzzles, this work suggests that readers also need to tune in and decode in order to capture what's going on in the work. What emerges is a remarkable story of hushed-up royal descent, in both Hergé's work and his own family history. McCarthy shows how the themes this story generates—expulsion from home, violation of the sacred, the host–guest relationship turned sour, and anxieties around questions of forgery and fakeness—are the same that have fueled and troubled writers from the classical era to the present day. His startling conclusion is that Tintin's ultimate secret is that of literature itself.