Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh, that's nice, that is.

One of the pleasures of my childhood was reading the adventures of Asterix and Obelix.

This was a series of comic books (graphic novels, really) written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo, and focusing on the adventures of a Gaulish warrior, his best friend and their village -- which was the last hold-out to Gaius Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul.

The sheer amount of puns, running gags and caricatures in this series of books is mind-boggling, and a great deal of the humour requires some knowledge of historical events, characters and Latin proverbs.

To be fair, there are actually 33 Asterix and Obelix books -- but the ones published after the death of Goscinny lack his sense of humour and unique wit -- so I usually only recommend the first 24 books to new readers.

Imagine my joy, when piddling about, to discover my highly-dog-eared and much tattered copies of Asterix in Britain and Asterix and Cleopatra -- which has been a jolly good way to spend a couple of hours and some mugs of tea.

For those Gentle Readers who may be looking for some light reading with just a sneaky touch of classical education, I heartily recommend this series of books.

LawDog

30 comments:

Peter said...

There are A&O in English?!? w00t! I've read them in French, and they were pretty damn funny.

Ross said...

I love the Asterix books, too - I didn't realize that there were so many, though!! I'll have to start hunting them all up.

BTW, there is a pub in Copenhagen called Obelix - just saw it a couple of weeks ago. Didn't eat there, though - we were across the street at the BarBar Bar.

LawDog said...

Peter,

There are actually a couple of different English translation available. My particular favorite is the Anthea Bell/Derek Hockridge version.

LauraB said...

Relatedly, have you read the Heroes In Hell series (C.J. Cherryh & Co.)? Hilarious antics as Caesar, Cleopatra, etc. awaken in Hell.

Except they have tanks and automatic weapons, now.

And memories. Well, except for Brutus who actually doesn't remember a thing.

Worth a trip to the cheap used book store if the library cannot supply...

Kaeto said...

I just recently got the Animated movie Asterix and Cleopatra on dvd.

I've loved the Stories for years.

Miguel said...

LawDog, imagine my surprise when I open your post and I get to read about one of my favorite not-so-childhood memories. Most of my books are still being held hostage in a country south of the border under the thumb of the New Castro but I have in my bookshelf one endearing copy: Asterix en Bretaña
http://tinyurl.com/65u7ag

My favorite latin pun comes from one of the books where Asterix and Obelix are in Rome and (Asterix Gladiator?) where there is a sign in front of Julius Caesar's home that reads:
Cave Canis
Beware of the dog

Anonymous said...

I liked the shaman/ brewmaster Getafix myself, hic, hic.
LittleRed1

Anonymous said...

I collected almost all of them while in the Army in Germany. When I was teaching social studies in high school, I loaned them to a language teacher. She used them as a reward for students who finished their work.

JayneCobb77 said...

Asterix in Britain is the absolute best of the series, IMHO.

"one bowl of wine for three? You must be Caledonians, I presume"

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Asterix in Britain is the absolute best of the series, IMHO.

"one bowl of wine for three? You must be Caledonians, I presume"


"Drink your beer before it gets cold."

That one's definitely my favourite, followed by Asterix and the Great Crossing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, 'Dog. Good to see you back in the saddle.

A. Madd Mann

mostly cajun said...

Count me as a fan, too...

MC

Hoozyrdady said...

I loved me some Asterix and Obelix when I was a young'n. Every once in a while I dust off my one surviving book and sit down for a chuckle.
Last year my wife gave me a promo cd she found online with every issue on it. One of the best presents ever.

Andrew Weitzman said...

I spent many an hour slouched in the seat next to the children's section comic-book shelf reading Asterix and Tintin. Fond memories!

If you want to order a copies of either, Quebec is a good place to order from. They're as much a part of the culture here--along with French bandes dessines in general--as in France itself.

Anonymous said...

A few entries too late, but I found the perfect illustration for your kitten. http://icanhascheezburger.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/funny-pictures-there-is-no-fluffy.jpg

BryanP said...

"The Mansions Of The Gods" (#17) is still my favorite. I still giggle when I read it. If you haven't read that one you should try to find it.

Roger said...

Wonderful books. If I recall correctly, they're the only comics that a sophisticated Frenchman can admit to reading without losing status.

By sheer coincidence, I picked up two that I was missing (Big Fight and Golden Sickle) on the way home from work today.

Katie said...

When I was little (we're talking five years old and ever since,) my father and I would lie on our stomachs on the floor together and he would read Asterix & Obelix to me while I looked at the pictures. It's one of my dearest childhood memories--and I'm always surprised and pleased to find others who know of the books!

Lin said...

I once clandestinely planned a 10,000 mile motorcycle trip with a co-worker in "Le Pub Asterix", a lower level discrete hang-out full of Asterix images and good folksy food. Thanks for reminding me - welcomed timing.

Anonymous said...

I'll second the "Heroes In Hell" series. Damn fine books and well worth reading.

Dori said...

Apperently you and I are related--or so says my husband of "I aim to misbehave" notoriety. Grew up in Africa, reside in the US and now this! Asterix and Obelix taught me how to read--not the greatest of tutors but by far the most enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

dori-Dog and his brother learned to read in Africa from a book called"Operation Rhino." If the mice haven't gotten it, out in one of the storage sheds, we've still got it.
LawMom

Christina LMT said...

I LOVED Asterix and Obelix when I was a kid, except I read it in German. Always had to wait for the translation to come out, but so worth it.

Towerclimber said...

I had a few of those!! I was in Germany and a friend of mine gave me one as a gift..I was hooked!!!!
though I wasn't able to find all of them, I have about 10 packed away in storage.
they appealed to me immediately when I read them and I've always wondered where I could find the whole set. I know my wife would love them also!

bedlamite said...

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1361/1360304633_de7f033375_b.jpg

Alex said...

LawDog,

Excellent post! As a kid I enjoyed reading Asterix & Obelix in my native language, along with Tintin. Now, I own Asterix le Gaulois and La Grande Traversee, my favorite.

In addtion, I have the entire series of "Soda", chronicling the adventures of a NYC detective. I don't think these are even available in English. Here is a link to the French site:
http://www.bedetheque.com/serie-53-BD-Soda.html

Cheers,
Alex

Andy said...

Ditto to many. Grew up in Austria and squandered a lot of time on Asterix and Tin-Tin. For those of us cursed with being multilingual and want to pass it on to our kids, they're a great unsung tool for teaching and practice.
Good job Lawdog.

Jill Pole said...

I don't know if you speak french, but I read Asterix en Bretagne back in first year, and then awhile later tried reading one in English. Soooooo much funnier in french!

Still classic in whatever language though. Still classic.

Windy Wilson said...

I have Asterix und Obelix bei die Normannen and Asterix und Obelix bei die Schweiz.
There are 24? They come in English?
Oh, be still my beating heart! lol, they're great fun!

Anonymous said...

I read them in French when I was a boy in Paris circa 1960. Loved 'em. Sad that the French have forgotten how to administer a world class beat down a l'Asterix.