The Castafiore Emerald

Backstory Key Characters

First edition album (Belgium) published in 1963

The Castafiore Emerald is a story in which — essentially — nothing happens. Captain Haddock’s mansion, Marlinspike Hall, can be considered a theater; key characters in the story are the actors in a play. Various outsiders, including a doctor and some gypsies, mingle with the residents. An opera singer invites herself to stay, with her entourage in tow. A builder is forever promising to fix a hazardous problem, and paparazzi skulk in the grounds. Additional “guests” include a television crew, a brass band and two hapless policemen.

The story revolves around a number of supposed thefts and a missing emerald. It seems like almost everyone is a suspect, even a cheeky magpie!

With a great sense of humor and the ability to tell a story without an exotic locale, Hergé takes his readers on a unique Tintin “adventure”…in which the heroes stay at home.

The Castafiore EmeraldBackstory

For this story, Hergé drew from several different personal experiences and developments of the time. His inclusion of gypsies in The Castafiore Emerald was inspired by a walk he took one day; he encountered a camp of gypsies on the edge of a forest and became curious about their lives. The album also highlights the upcoming introduction of color television in France — Professor Calculus, as always, is ahead of his time with his Super Calcacolor. Throughout the tale, paparazzi stalk Marlinspike Hall, trying to scare up a story. This was likely a thinly veiled jab at France’s own sensationalist papers, which were always trying to dig up dirt on Hergé.

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The Castafiore Emerald

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