Tintin in the Congo

My Dear, 

I am writing to you from The Pit, where my spirits are currently residing.

My grand-daughter came to visit over the week-end. She’s having a baby, the goose, and wanted to go through at endless length old family albums and dredge the annals for family names. What a bore.

I don’t know what perversity caused our offspring to inherit all the Vicars lack of charm and none of his moral spine – but I do know that as things stand, I wish the whole clan would just leave me alone. They are trite and they chat and they feed me cake. The Vicar could never abide cake, and he never chatted. That is how I could manage to live with the man despite his lack of wit. I find silence as the much preferred alternative in people of scant conversational skills.

I could put it more succinctly: my progeny are of the type to say “oh, so you’re not doing anything right now” when they see you sitting down with a book. Which makes me wish I had the guts to tell them that I have a large, extended fictional family I’d much rather spend my last few moments with. Because let’s face it: I shall be dead soon, and I very much doubt the quality of heaven’s lending library.

Anyhow: just as I was recovering myself with a nice helping of The House of Mirth I was struck down yet again. This time by news from the low countries. It appears that some fellow named Bienvenue has SUED Tintin over his adventures in the Congo, and the way the locals are depicted.

Now, I can’t recall the details, but I assume Tintin in the Congo is filled with rather unflattering images of the Congae – and that it might very well be deemed racist by today’s standards. But My Dear! It was published in anno ages ago, back when people WERE racist. I think our version has been labeled with some sort of warning, which is also absurd. Just imagine the labels that ought to be put on these titles, if that’s how they want to play it…

The Bible – may contain nuts
Hamlet – bathing at own risk
Marquis de Sade – content may be hot

My point being: if we start censoring every thought that has since been revised, we shall be left with very little on our shelves.

Yours, despairing of humanity,


Ps. the Guardian reports on it here.

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