Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tintin - Not Guilty of Racism

A Belgian court has rejected an application to ban a colonial-era book about the Congolese adventures of cartoon character Tintin for breaching racism laws, court documents showed.
Brussels' court of first instance said it did not believe the 1946 edition of "Tintin in the Congo" was intended to incite racial hatred, a criteria when deciding if something breaks Belgium's racism laws. The decision was issued late on Friday.
The Adventures of Tintin, a series of comic books created by Belgian artist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Herge, has gained renewed, global popularity in the past year after Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg made an animated film about the intrepid boy journalist and his little white dog Snowy.
"Tintin in the Congo" was the second book Herge produced, with the plot revolving around Tintin's escapades in the former Belgian colony, including encounters with diamond smugglers, big game hunters and wild animals.
In 2007, Congolese campaigner Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo launched legal proceedings to try to get the book banned, arguing that its portrayal of Africans was racist.
"Tintin in the Congo", which was first serialised in 1930-31 and reissued in 1946, has always attracted criticism. Herge himself said later in life that he wasn't happy with the work, which was only published in English in 1991.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Writing in the 15th century

Not many personal notebooks survive from the 15th and early 16th centuries in England. One reason for this is that few people were capable of producing them. At that time, reading and writing were taught as two separate skills. Writing was considered the more difficult and not an ability everyone needed to learn.
While it was essential for those embarking on a clerical career, it was superfluous to those whose livelihood depended on manual labour. The bulk of surviving manuscript material, therefore, was the work of professional writers, and oral communication remained highly valued in early Tudor culture.

This does not mean, however, that English people had little access to books. During the 15th and 16th centuries there was a growing proliferation of reading material, aided by two technical changes: the launch of paper in the early 15th century and the development of printing later that century.

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