Asterix in Switzerland (1970)

Astérix chez les Helvètes

Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…

Examination of Swiss neutral stance, the integrity of private banking and the world significance of the standard-setting peace convention.

Notable Nomenclature…

  • Varius Flavus: Roman Governor at Condatum.
  • Caius Eucalyptus: tax collector.
  • Vexatius Sinusitus: Roman Quaester.
  • Curius Odus: governor of Geneva.
  • Maloderus Casius: uncoordinated orgy-goer.

Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes…

  • Vitalstatastix seems predisposed to standing on a slope. First he chooses A&O and later Fulliautomatix and Geriatrix as shield-bearers (pp2 and 44).
  • The Gaul Roman Empire/Helvetia Roman Empire too sign is premature: Rome wasn’t yet an empire (p17).

Cleverness and Contemporaneity…

  • The orgy scenes are quite depraved in a gluttonous sort of way. The mode of eating boar’s tripe without the use of cutlery is particularly noteworthy (pp7-9 and 16-17) – a trait later marked by a chariotway service-station sign (p14).
  • Eucalyptus is given a packed-orgy to eat en-route (p13).
  • A&O stay the night in a ‘Chariotel’. (p15) Later they have a wheel fixed by the Michelin Man. (p16)
  • The peculiar Swiss orgy involves involves a cheesy game of forfeits (p15).
  • The reference to the ‘spot’ on page 16 appears to have been necessitated by the artist’s spilt ink. (Kessler)
  • In order to hide in a Swiss bank A&O have to deposit themselves in a numbered account (p25).
  •  A&O evade the Romans at a United Nation “Tribal Chieftains” conference. The key to blending in is to copy the comatose conventioners (p31).
  • Obelix adopts a diving technique that would tend to get him banned from swimming pools (p32).
  • Yet another national music is likened to Cacofonix – this time it’s the yodel (p33).
  • The inevitable William Tell joke reverses reader expectation.
  • Obelix’s nasal intervention actually corrects Asterix’s shot so he gets a bullseye whereas one would expect it to redirect it into the boy’s apple. The Swiss archers comment on this (p35).
  • Obelix’s inebriation inspires Asterix to invent mountaineering (p37).
  • The Swiss have already formed the Red Cross (p39).
  • Cacofonix is afforded his usual place at the banquet (p44).

That army recruitment drive…

“Join up they said, see the world, they said.”

This time it’s the Swiss gastronomy that’s ghastly…

The Helvetians only ever eat cheese with holes, either as it is or melted in a fondue.

Non-PC World…

Stereotypical Swiss manias come to the fore:

  • Obsessed with cleanliness – even the slavedriver’s whip is given a regular spin-dry (p16).
  • Punctual – the hotelier employs unique early-model cuckoo clocks (p22).
  • Politically neutral stance – Possibly instigated by Asterix and Obelix’s uncouth behavior (p29.) Then again possibly already in place (p28). .

Obelix has a tender side…

  • Comforted by the yet greater girth of a corporate logo (p16).
  • Drinking beer on tap renders the big man a dead weight (p37).

Good or What?

Very good indeed.

Goscinny and Uderzo hit every target when they draw a bead on their immediate neighbours. Very astute cultural commentary.