Asterix in Spain (1969)

Astérix en Hispanie

Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…

Once more this ‘Asterix In…’ book is far more about modern Spain than its ancient equivalent, though the issue of Spain’s then fascist government is overlooked. An opportunity – perhaps understandably – missed.

Also a study of “innocence”. Pepe’s complete innocence and unpretentiousness is both effective as a tool against the Romans (he bites them) and reflective of the Village’s own attitude. (Kessler)

Notable Nomenclature…

  • Heuvos Y Bacon: rebel Spanish chief.
  • Spurius Brontosaurus: escort to the abducted Pepe.
  • Oloroso El Fiasco: his alias when in Spanish disguise.
  • Raucus Hallelujachorus: Roman Centurian.
  • Nodepositon El Sodasiphon: cart dealer.
  • Obsequius: sycophantic general.

Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes…

  • As in Asterix the Legionary the historical backdrop is accurate. Caesar’s African victory was indeed followed by a Spanish campaign. (Kessler)
  • Unhygienix’s fishmongering fallibility properly introduced (p12).
  • Introduction of the village “fishfight” (p14).
  • First instance of the unsubtle “Vitalstatistix falling off shield” running-gag (p11).
  • As in Asterix and the Big Fight (we will assume that tea really will suffice for the British “Village”) there is a credibility problem regarding another rebel village. How can it hope to maintain its independent stance without a regular supply of Getafix’s potion? There again … read the comments on my updated analysis of that story to see Kessler’s explanation for this.
  • Unhygienix seemingly built Stonehenge from Obelix’s menhirs – not a great joke considering that Stonehenge dates from far earlier than the setting of Asterix books. (p19).

Cleverness and contemporaneity…

  • Apparently Napoleon used to tweak the ears of his soldiers in the manner of Julius on page 1. (kessler) “These French are crazy” is all I can say to that.
  • The Spaniards speak with modern Spanish punctuation – i.e. with upside-down exclamation and question-marks (p1 etc).
  • Caesar literally rests on his laurels (p2).
  • Cacophonix’s singing seems not so much bad as “more in tune with Hispanic tastes” (p16).
  • Obelix unwittingly turns Unhygienix’s fishmongers into a rental-outfit (p13).
  • Fulliautomatix hits Cacofonix with a fish instead of a hammer (p20).
  • Asterix predicts self-service supermarkets (p22).
  • Another tourist traffic-jam includes Gauls in caravans discussing the exchange-rate in sestertii (p23).
  • The Basque Inn offers ‘Hot and Cold in all rooms’ (24).
  • The Gauls encounter the fictional Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (p28).
  • At any given time every Spanish city seems to be celebrating a public holiday (p28 etc).
  • Modern roadworks on Spanish road (p30).
  • The gypsy camp is somewhat contemporary (p31).
  • Asterix unwittingly invents bullfighting when he undergoes the Spanish equivalent of being thrown to the lions (p42).

Cacofonix creates…

  • ‘Rockabye Pepe, on the tree top.’
  • ‘I’m dreaming of a white solstice.’
  • ‘Wonderful wonderful Durovernum.’ (p16)

Obelix has a tender side…

  • Feels that Dogmatix is siding with Pepe against him (p16).
  • Delivers his ‘my chest has slipped a bit’ catchphrase to his gypsy dancing partner (p31).

Non-PC World

The foreign caricatures of this book – unlike those of Asterix in Britain – are almost entirely complimentary, though the inevitable stereotypes – bullfighting, tourism and Romany dancing – are all present and correct.

Classic Pegleg…

Doesn’t get the opportunity to wax classical, this due to:

Redbeard’s proactive retort…

“And the first one to make any funny remarks will be bait.”

Good or What?

Not too good.

The character of Pepe is a major annoyance to the readers as well as the Gauls – which tends to scupper what is otherwise a genial ‘Asterix in …’ story. Whilst the Gaulish villagers are hilariously portrayed once A&O actually set off for Spain the book starts to rely on the obvious Spanish stereotypes – flamenco-dancing-gypsies, bullfights and people saying “Ole” – rather than being genuinely perceptive. There is a lot of fabulous wordplay in passing, though.