Tintin in Tibet
November 30, 2021
Tintin in Tibet is the twentieth album in the cartoon series Les Aventures de Tintin, created by the Belgian cartoonist Hergé. The story is first pre-published from September 17, 1958 to November 25, 1959 in the pages of the newspaper Tintin, before being published in an album of sixty-two plates by Casterman editions. It is generally considered to be Hergé's most personal album, who by his own admission considered it to be his most successful work. If he evokes the Himalayas and its dangers, Tibetan traditions in matters of religion or the existence of the yeti, Tintin in Tibet is above all marked by a philosophical and spiritual dimension unmatched in the series. Apolitical album, it is also Tintin's first adventure in which firearms are absent. Used to police investigations, the hero is this time plunged into a desperate adventure which takes on the appearance of a quest for Good. While the plane carrying his friend Tchang crashes in the Gosainthan massif, Tintin is the only one to believe him alive despite appearances, and shows himself ready to give his own life to save that of his friend, training with him Captain Haddock, initially reluctant. Tchang's call, which Tintin receives in a dream, is felt as an irrepressible duty which allows the hero to accomplish himself by doing good. At the time of the birth of this new adventure, Hergé is locked in a deep depression coupled with a moral crisis which affects his work and inhibits his creative energy. The completion of the story acts on him like therapy and is an “autobiographical snapshot of the creator at the turn of his life”, in the words of his biographer Pierre Assouline. The presence of many paranormal phenomena in this album testifies to the author's deep interest in this field. Developed gradually throughout the story, the paranormal asserts itself at the end of the album through the episodes of levitation of a Tibetan monk, and even more by meeting the yeti. This gradual insertion gives the album the characteristics of an initiatory story: like Captain Haddock, fundamentally rational and skeptical, but who ends up recognizing the existence of these phenomena, the reader is invited to adjust his conception of reality. . By its isolation and its inaccessibility, Tibet takes on the appearance of a mystical place, suitable for initiation. While making his album a work tinged with spirituality, Hergé nonetheless retains its humorous character, mainly carried by Captain Haddock who, by his impulsiveness and his propensity to expose himself to danger, is an inexhaustible source of effects. comical. Finally, the album stands out with the figure of the yeti, which Hergé endeavors to present as a sensitive being, following the advice of his friend Bernard Heuvelmans and going against the grain of the thought of his time. Despite the absence of any allusion to the political context in the story, Tintin in Tibet became an emblem of the Tibetan cause at the turn of the 1990s, insofar as he contributed to making this territory and its traditions known to the general public. As such, the Dalai Lama awarded the Light of Truth Prize to the Hergé Foundation in 2006.