The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé

The Castafiore EmeraldMany years ago, on a cool autumn eve, a young foreigner walked the streets of Paris, France. Outside a bookstore, adults – a long line of them – were waiting to be let in, even though the shop had been closed for hours. It turned out that Hergé’s unfinished comic book Tintin et l’Alph-Art would be released the next day – thus the crowd.

In many countries around the world, The Adventures of Tintin are shelved with children’s literature. This makes perfect sense, as many youngsters love these strong stories that are populated with captivating characters and wonderful use of language. However, as the crowd outside the Paris bookstore showed, the books are for adults too. For Hergé was one of the great storytellers of the 20th century and if there is perfection in art it can be found in the graphic novels of Hergé and his staff.

The Castafiore Emerald (1963) is part of Hergé’s late, mature work, and while children and adults alike can adore this “comic opera” for its humor, it is also filled with adult elements. It is, in part, an anti-narrative, riddled with misunderstandings and communication breakdowns, and the plot is an exercise in creating suspense out of next to nothing. But while Hergé finds plenty of traction while toying with the reader’s expectations, he simultaneously offers a complex and revealing exposure of bigotry.

In The Castafiore Emerald, Hergé turns his back on international adventures as Captain Haddock and his friend Tintin enjoy some downtime in Marlinspike, the captain’s grand estate. Low-key, domestic adventures rule the days at Marlinspike. Most disturbingly, to Haddock who only wishes for peace and quiet, is a letter from his acquaintance Bianca Castafiore, the very loud opera diva of Milan. When she announces her immediate arrival to Marlinspike, Haddock decides that this is a good time to leave for Milan. But in his hurry to leave Marlinspike he slips and sprains his ankle. Leaving the estate is now out of the question, and soon enough the old sailor finds himself in a wheelchair, trapped in the company of the uninvited opera singer. Haddock’s problems grow worse when two Paris Flash reporters announce to the world that Haddock and the diva intend to get married, and when – to his horror – a TV crew invades the castle to interview Castafiore.

In the meantime, Tintin is busy solving the mystery of Castafiore’s lost emerald. Who is behind the disappearance of the gemstone? Could it be Castafiore’s secretive pianist, Wagner, who sneaks off to the village and make clandestine phone calls when he’s supposed to be practicing his craft? Or is it the Romani that have camped on the estate? Or does it have something to do with the ghostly footsteps that can be heard in the attic at night?

The story lines of The Castafiore Emerald are weaved together in the most wonderful way, and even if this book offers low-key adventures, the cliff-hangers will last till the very last panel.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

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