SNCF & CONNEXIONS, in close collaboration with CASTERMAN, is paying an impassioned tribute to CORTO MALTESE on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the creation of Hugo Pratt’s hero.
The son of a sailor of the Royal Navy and an Andalusian gypsy, Corto grew up in an atmosphere of magic spells, enchantments, and spirituality, influenced by his fortune teller mother and the rabbi who was his teacher. His family history and a mixed upbringing allowed him to acquire an unusual open-mindedness—perhaps even anachronistic, given the period in which Hugo Pratt decided to set his stories (the first half of the 20th century).
Corto’s broad-mindedness and lack of prejudice toward all cultures is even more necessary for readers in the 21st century, at a time in which identity conflicts, the growth of extremism, and libertarian drifts tend towards intellectual obscurantism. For Corto, the values of friendship count more than those of any flag: his loyalty to his companions, whether male or female, is so strong that we unfailingly find him at their side, heedless of any danger.
Corto Maltese is a charismatic and romantic figure with a sophisticated look: a true male icon along the lines of Burt Lancaster, James Dean, or David Bowie. His proudly affirmed individualism, his comfortable bachelorhood, his disinterested actions, nomadic life style, sense of irony, elegance, and charm all mark him as the ideal incarnation of a contemporary thirty-something with whom male readers can identify and to whom female readers will not remain indifferent. His adventures are punctuated by moments of action or tragedy, but above all by entertaining situations outlined by dialogue that is packed with irony and a terse, unadorned language devoid of conformism, political correctness, or false modesty.
Much more than a character from the comic strip universe, Corto is a myth, and with this title he speaks to a vast audience. A citizen of the world long before the era of globalization, he is a modern Ulysses for whom all adventures assume–now more than ever, 50 years from his creation—a universal significance.
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