Asterix and the Normans

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Asterix and the Normans
(Astérix et les Normands)
Date 1978
Series Asterix
Creative team
Writers Rene Goscinny
Artists Albert Uderzo
Original publication
Date(s) of publication
1966
Language French
Chronology
Preceded by Asterix in Britain
Followed by Asterix the Legionary

Asterix and the Normans is the ninth book in the Asterix comic book series, written by René Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo. It was first published in serial form in Pilote magazine, issues 340-361, in 1966. It depicts a meeting between Asterix's Gaulish village and a shipload of Normans (Vikings).

Plot summary[edit]

The story begins with Vitalstatistix receiving a missive from his brother Doublehelix in Lutetia (modern-age Paris) who wants his aid in making a man of his teenage son, Justforkix.

Justforkix arrives in a sports car-like chariot, and comes across as a happy-go-lucky urbanite with an air of superiority about him. Conflict soon emerges between the city boy and the country folk. The village holds a dance in honour of his arrival but he is unimpressed by the simple traditional way of dancing, snatches Cacofonix's lyre and sings and plays in the manner of Elvix Preslix (the Rolling Menhirs in the English version). Some of the younger villagers soon catch on and dance to this new form. Outraged by this usurpation, Cacofonix tries to show off his own skills, but this of course leads to the break-up of the dance and a knock-out blow from Fulliautomatix. Justforkix on the other hand is impressed and suggests that Cacofonix's talents would be better appreciated in Lutetia. On the whole, though, Justforkix is quickly bored with the village. This changes, however, when a Norman ship arrives.

The Normans (actually Vikings from the frozen north) have decided to come to Gaul not for plunder, but for learning: they are fearless to the point of not even understanding the concept. This causes many problems for them, including the contempt of children for parental discipline, the inability to cure hiccups — which can be cured by giving the person a fright — and lack of road safety since reckless chariot-drivers show no fear towards the authorities. The main reason for this expedition, however, is that they have heard of people "flying in fear", which they interpret too literally, thinking that this mysterious "fear" will grant them the ability to fly. Unfortunately, the local Gauls fear nothing either (except the sky falling on their heads) and they actually welcome the prospect of a fight with the Normans. However, Justforkix is horrified and fearfully decides to return home.

Viewing Justforkix as an expert in fear, the Normans kidnap him on his "flight" home so he can teach them the meaning of the concept. Their chief, the fierce Timandahaf, roars at Justforkix to make them feel fear, though ironically it is Justforkix who fears them. The youngster's situation is hopeless until Asterix and Obelix come to the rescue. A fight breaks out in which the Normans show no fear whatsoever in spite of the beating they get from the magic-powered Gauls, in contrast to some Romans who reluctantly get involved due to an over-enthusiastic new recruit.

Timandahaf brings an end to the battle and explains to the Gauls the reasons he and his men have come and kidnapped Justforkix. In order to teach the Normans fear, Asterix sends Obelix to fetch Cacofonix while remaining behind as a hostage. But Cacofonix turns out to be missing — encouraged by Justforkix's comments and annoyed by the villagers' treatment of him, he has decided to go to Lutetia. Obelix manages to track him down, however, and to persuade him to come back to save his first real fan.

Meanwhile, the Norman chief's patience runs out and he tries to force Justforkix to teach them flying by tossing him off a cliff. Just before this can be carried out, Asterix engages the Norman warriors in battle and, seeing him pressed by the Normans, Justforkix suddenly gains the courage to fight as well — albeit to no visible effect.

Just in time, Obelix and Cacofonix turn up to stop the slugfest, and after some scepticism the Normans learn that Cacofonix does indeed have the ability to teach one the meaning of fear: his loud and ear-splitting singing has them scared out of their wits. After having experienced this new emotion, the Normans find out that it does not give them wings but rather shows them the true meaning of courage, something they had always taken for granted. Justforkix himself has learned the meaning of courage thoroughly, making him the pride of his uncle.

The story ends with the traditional banquet, but with Cacofonix as guest of honour and Fulliautomatix tied up with rope, his ears filled with parsley. For once their roles are reversed.

Historical background[edit]

In France, Normans are the descendants of Norsemen (Vikings) who invaded northern France in the late 9th century and gave their name to Normandy. The book's encounter between Romans, Gauls and Normans during the age of Caesar is thus an anachronism; indeed, the Norman chief tells the Gauls that they do not want to invade their country, but their descendants will do some centuries later (they even briefly reference 1066). In the book, the Normans' heavy use of cream in recipes is a reference to stereotypes of the cuisine in Normandy.

Puns[edit]

In the original French version, Justforkix is called "Goudurix" ("a taste for risks"), a name he lives up to only towards the end.

In Finnish, the story is called Asterix ja normannien maihinnousu ("Asterix and the Landing of the Normans"). This is a reference to the Normandian maihinnousu, the standard Finnish history-book term for the Normandy Landings of 1944.

Other themes[edit]

In this story, we see Dogmatix's distress over the uprooting of trees for the first time.

This is the first album in the series since Asterix the Gaul where Cacofonix is not tied up for the story-ending banquet.

Fulliautomatix the blacksmith had previously appeared in both Asterix the Gaul and Asterix and the Banquet, but he differed somewhat from the appearance he now took in Asterix and the Normans, and he would remain essentially unchanged for the rest of the series.

In contrast to Justforkix, there is the, at first, over-eager Roman rookie Legionary Oleaginus, whose hair is cut short in the manner of modern-day soldiers. Whereas Justforkix learns courage, Oleaginus learns to fear the Gauls and the Normans and also the means of getting out of confronting them, such as wasting time on making three copies of the same report (i.e. red tape).

When Justforkix explains his Chariot is from Mediolanum (now Milan, Italy) it is a reference to that modern sports cars are made there.

Adaptations[edit]

Justforkix was the star of a series of Asterix gamebooks, popular in the 1980s.

The basic storyline of this graphic novel was adapted into the animated full-length feature Asterix and the Vikings.

Rolling Menhirs is a reference to the famous rock group the Rolling Stones. In the original French it is 'Les Monkiix,' referring to The Monkees.

The book is translated into Bengali, Catalan,Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.