The Indomitable Gauls
Asterix turns FIFTY this week. Fifty! I have to say, growing up reading Asterix comics, I always loved him best ... but who could resist the bumbling charms of great ol' Obelix (born on the same day as Asterix, I now learn!) And as far as I'm concerned Dogmatix was the pioneering Captain Planet of the animal kingdom - howling every time trees were uprooted. Someone should set him on the municipal authorities in the Capital for chopping down trees left right and centre.
The Gauls' greatest concern as you're no doubt aware was that the sky would fall on their heads, by Toutatis! Even now, I can't get over how clever the puns are, the word-play, not just in the original French, but in the English translations as well. Goscinny and Uderzo, god bless you, for the generations you've entertained and educated along the way ... Yes, I am aware that maybe this is not the best platform to let the world in on the fact that all I know about Goths (pre-Goth chic at least) has to do with the Visigoths and Ostrogoths of yore!
And despite the fact that I loved Roman myths as well, you can't read Asterix comics growing up and look at the Romans (tortoise formation! Or alternatively, orgies, more orgies!) and Julius Caesar (ol' chap) with anything less than bemusement.
Caesar, Cleopatra (what a nose!), the reason the Sphinx in Egypt has no nose, the spot o' milk the English have with their hot water ... the comics are a treasure trove of humour and historical information. (Wait, what do you mean, they have no established historical precedents, fie on you nay-sayers!)
And then of course we all know a Cacofonix or an Impedimenta, I'm sure ... not to mention Unhygienix (tee hee!) and his wife Bacteria ... do you remember what's possibly the first health movement - trying to get Vitalstatistix to the spa to de-tox. Hilarious stuff!
For me, druid Getafix (get it?!) will remain one of the cleverest older people of all time (matched only perhaps by Gandalf, but I suppose we can discuss TLOTR some other time...)
But the heart and soul of the story...that one Gaulish village that has withstood invasion, time and again... Much as I love them, the adventures of Asterix, Obelix (yes, yes, he fell into the cauldron of magic potion as a baby and can never have any... except on one occasion as far as I remember!) and Dogmatix didn't make as much of an impact when translated onto the big screen.
R Goscinny passed away back in 1977 ... he was the genius behind the text, something Albert Uderzo later took over, apart from the illustrations. In fact, Uderzo is releasing a new collection of short stories featuring Asterix, in time for his birthday on the 29th of October, which will include previously unpublished cartoons. Oh please god! I mean I better get my hands on a copy, by Toutatis!
A world without Asterix? Now that would be the sky falling on our heads.
Tell me what you think, right here in the CNN-IBN Book Club.
More about Amrita Tripathi
Amrita Tripathi is a news anchor with CNN-IBN, and also doubles up as Health and Books Editor. An MA in Philosophy from St Stephen's College, Delhi University, she has also taught a few undergraduate classes at her alma mater, informally! When she is not tracking health issues, Amrita is busy chasing the literary dream. Her debut novel Broken News was published in 2010. Before joining CNN-IBN, Amrita worked with The Indian Express.
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