December 4, 2015

[Books] Asterix and the Indomitable Spirit

In a direction, far away from the mess of a city mine is right now, I intend to transport myself to a different time and place, courtesy the legendary Gauls, Asterix and Obelix. Nothing like some Asterix comics to lift your mood like a bunch of helium balloons. This evening, to take my mind off of now, I decided to jump headlong into ‘Asterix and the Goths’. 

The deliciousness of Asterix lies in the details. So much to be relished if you relax enough to take in even those little panels in the background, not even connected to the plot of the story. One such in this particular book flashes by. A woodpecker pecks away at a tree and is almost about to fell it down and there’s an owl peering out of its hole in the same tree, tapping on its head with its feathery wings and looking down at the woodpecker, as if to ask, “Wood here?” 

The other thing I savor to the brim is the sheer ingenuity of the names. To sample a few: Rhetoric for a Gothic interpreter,  Valueaddetax for a British druid, Gastroenteritus and Arteriosclerosus for a couple of Roman soldiers. Like the mere glimpse of the face of a few movie actors, just this is enough to get you cackling away!

The remarkable fact is that, Asterix collection is a translation. Perhaps, it could be said there’s plenty of similarity between the French and English languages, but these Gauls would shake their head saying ‘No way!”

The way the plots are intertwined, with the history and geography of the places they travel to, as well as times then and now, is simply wow. This brings to my mind, a favorite author of mine. Asterix and Somerset Maugham stand connected in the way they both travel around our world, only at different times, offering different perspectives. 

Somerset Maugham is the man of details, sculpting and polishing his stories of people around the world to etch those exotic characters rather like an engraving in your mind’s frame. While that be so, our Gauls have the last laugh. Herein lies, a rich collection of comic commentary to the cultural details of countries. From another book, British fighting factions calling a time-out at 4 in the evening to have a relaxed cup of tea and biscuits, pops to mind. At this point, Obelix looks at Asterix and says, “These Britons are crazy!” This being Obelix’s standard line wherever he travels. 

The storyline generally follows this path: The Gauls stand strong against the all powerful Caesar’s army; In course of time, some trouble comes their way or they are invited to clear trouble for someone near or far and off they go, full of cheer to set things right. You know how it’s going to end, around a banquet table of roasted wild boars and glowing embers of the campfire, with stories of the adventures of Asterix and Obelix shared with the people of the village and Cacofonix, the bard, tied up to a tree and all well with the world. For a moment, makes you believe that all the troubles of now are transient and soon, we’d be in our own version of this banquet table, regaling tales of triumph to our near and dear. 

In some ways, no matter how much you may be sinking within, books such as this are the very magic potion to fill you with the indomitable spirit.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nandini, Can you suggest some nice books be it fiction/non-fiction, books worth reading in a lifetime. I have been searching for some good books to read. Thanks!