Earlier this year, Steven Spielberg began filming a planned trilogy based on the adventures of Tintin. So in good time for the release of the first Hollywood film at the end of 2011, Oxford University Press is publishing an English, or to be precise an American, translation of Pierre Assouline’s 1996 biography of Hergé, the creator of Tintin.
At the time, French-speaking Tintinophiles waited eagerly for this book, expecting a cornucopia of fascinating facts about Georges Remi, better known by his nom de plume Hergé. Tintin had transformed his unassuming creator into a celebrity eighty years ago, but an aura of mystery still surrounded Hergé, an intensely private man. Assouline, with a good reputation as the biographer of another famous Belgian, Georges Simenon, and of Albert Londres, the journalist whom Hergé acknowledged as a model for Tintin, seemed an exciting choice for the task.
The result, however, was profoundly disappointing for a number of reasons, two of which were fundamental. While enthusiastic about The Adventures of Tintin, Assouline displayed a surprisingly unsure grasp of them, confusing plots, characters and even books. Anyone who knew Hergé would agree that the key to understanding