Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Asterix and Obelix All At Sea – Goscinny and Uderzo

Book cover photo: Asterix and Obelix All At Sea
I am a huge fan of Asterix and Obelix, and have been for more than 40 years. My German uncle introduced me to them when I was little, and they helped me learn German. Over the years, we swapped copies, with me giving him and my cousins the English versions, and them giving me the German ones. I now have the whole collection, with some in the Kölsch dialect (Cologne dialect), and others in French and Spanish. And this is the great thing about these books. Created by a wonderful author/illustrator partnership René Goscinny  and Albert Uderzo they describe the adventures of a small Gaulish village which are holding out against the Roman army of Julius Caesar, with the help of their village druid’s magic potion.

There are so many wonderful stories and I have so many favourites, in particular, Asterix in Britain and Asterix in Switzerland. But I have just read Asterix and Obelix All At Sea, which was written entirely by Uderzo, as sadly Goscinny passed away in 1977. And it is fabulous, as good as ever, particularly as there is a cameo from the cartoon version of Kirk Douglas as Spartakis.

I should give credit to the translators Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge, because the thing that is particularly clever is the way the jokes and puns are translated so that they apply to the local reader. For example, in the French editions, the little dog is called Idefix, while in the English editions he is called Dogmatix, both names sharing the same meaning in their own language. And there are many such examples of clever translations in all the texts. Asterix and Obelix are suitable for all ages. Children might not get all the jokes, but they will love the action and the characters, and adults will enjoy the clever word-use and innovative adventures.

No comments:

Post a Comment