By Jove!

If you have known me for any length of time, chances are that I have annoyed you by quoting Asterix or one of the derivative characters of this quintessentially European comic strip which has been around for decades. I just love the volumes that have been produced before the texter Goscinny's death - they're extremely funny & subtle at the same time, often building on classic education without boasting it, and making gentle fun of national clichés - just look at the volumes on the British or the Swiss! At one time, I've been able to quote all of them quite extensively, but I've been lacking practise recently.

Care for some examples? With pleasure! This is my all time favourite: There's this Egyptian architect coming to see the druid on accounts of having to build a palace for Cleopatra to impress Caesar. He greets him with the memorable sentence (translated from the German version): I am, my dearest friend, much more than glad to see you! To which the druid replies with a knowing smile to the bystanders: That is an Alexandrine. Which of course it is, and in more than just the sense that his visitor hails from Alexandria. Also, since the Romans are the beloved enemies of the Gauls, there's plenty of latin quotes, which are always translated in footnotes (!). So, there's this Roman officer going: Gnôthi seäuton! A fellow soldier aks what that meant, to which he says: That's Greek to me, so I don't know! Logically, we are not treated to a translation. (If you have to know, it's Know thyself!) But don't bother looking for such treasures in volumes following XXIV. The more recent issues have become so much more representative of real French humour...

Now, Asterix is entering the internet era! Here is his official website, which I've only just discovered. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Joel said...

I'm an Asterix addict and still have all the books on a shelf (or at the moment, in a box) somewhere.

The jokes seems different in each language. One that comes to mind from New Zealand: in Asterix in Britain m(published in the 1970s), Obelix and a Briton are standing in central Paris. 'We'll never be in Concord over this' they sigh.