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  Wikipedia: The Blue Lotus

Wikipedia: The Blue Lotus
The Blue Lotus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Blue Lotus (originally Le Lotus Bleu) is a comic strip album in the Tintin series by Hergé. It is the second half of a story, the first half being told in Cigars of the Pharaoh . The Blue Lotus is generally considered to be a pivotal work in Hergé's carreer.


Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers!

In Cigars of the Pharaoh, Tintin chases an international group of drug distributors through the Middle and Far East. He manages to catch them all, except for the leader, who crashes in a ravine. In order to unravel more of the network and stop the opium production at the source, he travels to China, where he is eagerly awaited by the assassins of the opium consortium.

The title, Blue Lotus, refers to the name of an opium den.

Method change

Up to the writing of The Blue Lotus, Hergé's writing was mainly based on popular prejudice and on what his mentor, the abbot Norbert Wallez, had told him. Tintin was published in a newspaper, and Hergé announced at the end of Cigars that his next setting would be China.

Father Gosset, the chaplain to the Chinese students at the University of Louvain, wrote to Hergé urging him to be sensitive about what he wrote about China. Hergé agreed, and in the spring of 1934 Gosset introduced him to Chang Chong-chen, a young sculpture student at the Brussels Académie des Beaux-Arts. The two young artists quickly became close friends, and Chang introduced Hergé to Chinese history, culture, and the techniques of Chinese art.

As a result of this experience, Hergé would strive in The Blue Lotus, and in subsequent Tintin adventures, to be meticulously accurate in depicting the places which Tintin visited. He reached this meticulousness by painstakingly researching all his topics. When his UK publisher complained that The Black Island depicted an old-fashioned England, Hergé sent Bob de Moor across the North-Sea to redraw anything that was no longer accurate, resulting in huge changes to the album. This new-found accuratesse would become a Hergé trade mark.

As a token of appreciation, he added a fictional "Chang" to The Blue Lotus, a young Chinese boy who meets and befriends Tintin. Hergé mocks his own naďveté deep inside the album, when he tries to let Tintin explain to Chang that Chang's fear for the 'white devils' is based on prejudice. He then recites a few Western stereotypes of the Chinese.

Political turmoil

As another result of his friendship with Chang, Hergé became increasing aware of the problems of colonialism, in particular the Japanese Empire's advances into China. The Blue Lotus carries a bold anti-imperialist message, contrary to the prevailing view in the West, which was sympathetic to Japan and the colonial enterprise.

Tintin is a direct witness to the South Manchurian railroad incident (Mukden incident), Japan's excuse to attack and occupy China and start the second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).

As a result, it drew sharp criticism from various parties, including a protest by Japanese diplomats to the Belgian Foreign Ministry. However, the passage of time has since vindicated Hergé's views.

The other side, China, in particular Taiwan, was so pleased with the album, that they invited Hergé for a visit.

Oddly enough, according to Tintin's Ideology, the Peoples' Republic of China forbade the publication of the album for a long time. When it finally allowed publication in 1984, some pictures of the examples of Western prejudice were either altered or even taken out completely.

See also


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona