Asterix in Switzerland
|Asterix in Switzerland
(Astérix chez les Helvètes)
Date(s) of publication
|Preceded by||Asterix and the Roman Agent|
|Followed by||The Mansions of the Gods|
Asterix in Switzerland is the sixteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote magazine issues 557–578 in 1970 and translated into English in 1973.
Condatum's Roman governor Varius Flavus has been "setting aside for himself" (i.e. embezzling) a large majority of the taxes he collects in order to finance a debauched lifestyle of never-ending parties, sending only a pittance to Rome. Quaestor Vexatius Sinusitus is sent by Rome in order to investigate. Flavus finds that the stiff, no-nonsense Quaestor will not be easy to corrupt so, while pretending to co-operate, he serves him food laced with poison and provides an inept team of doctors who make absurd guesses at the cause of Sinusitus' distress. Realizing his life is in danger, Sinusitus sends for the druid Getafix. Getafix, who identifies the malady as attempted murder by poison, agrees to brew an antidote for Sinusitus. However, he requires an essential ingredient, a flower called the silver star (edelweiss), which only grows on the highest mountains of Helvetia.
Getafix sends Asterix and Obelix to Helvetia (Switzerland) to retrieve the flower. He also insists that Sinusitus remain in their Gaulish village as a hostage as, he claims, in order to guarantee Asterix and Obelix's return. This is actually a ruse to get Sinusitus away from Flavus, whom Getafix understands is the would-be killer. Asterix and Obelix reach Helvetia but soon run into difficulties set by the Romans, as Varius Flavus has warned his colleague in Helvetia, the equally-corrupt Curious Odus, of their arrival. Thus the Gauls find themselves continually chased by the Romans, but they manage to get help from some courageous Helvetians, including the hotel manager Petitsuix, Zurix the bank manager and some Helvetian veterans who hold a celebration at Lake Geneva.
After some difficulties — including Obelix passing out from draining a whole cask of plum wine — the two Gauls manage to secure an edelweiss. A few days later, Varius Flavus comes to the village and asks how Sinusitus is doing, dropping hints that he should be executed. But Asterix and Obelix have returned to the village and Getafix has made his antidote. Now cured, Sinusitus confronts Flavus and with the aid of some magic potion punches Flavus into the sky, announcing that he will now expose the corruption and that Flavus and Odus will be facing the lions in the Circus in Rome.
The story ends with the usual banquet, with Sinusitus being the first Roman ever to participate.
Following the protests of May 1968, Goscinny started introducing more "adult" themes such as the opening "orgy" scene which parodies Federico Fellini's debauched Roman film, Satyricon. The painted faces, feeling of ennui, mechanical gorging of elaborate food and sado-masochistic punishments are nicely counterbalanced by the annoying (to the Romans) fastidiousness of the Swiss servants who keep cleaning up messes, washing whips, etc.
- This album features a rare dark overtone in that the plot involves a victim of attempted murder. The added element of potential death offers a startling but refreshing moment of drama in the otherwise whimsical series. Other stories that share a dramatic turn include Asterix and Son (where the village is destroyed) and Asterix and the Magic Carpet.
- The idea to send Asterix and Obelix to Switzerland might have been inspired by a casual suggestion by future French president Georges Pompidou, who had been a banker. The authors and the president sometimes admitted to it, but sometimes denied it.
- Bibendum (the Michelin man) makes a brief guest appearance as the chariot wheel dealer in certain translations, including the original English translation. The original French version used the Gaulish warrior-like mascot of the French service station company Antar. The 2004 English re-print from Orion Books uses the French illustrations, making the later localized jokes referring to Bibendum's weight nonsensical. (Different images of the wheel dealer.)
In other languages
- Catalan: Astèrix al país dels helvecis
- Croatian: Asteriks kod Helvećana
- Czech: Asterix v Helvetii
- Dutch: Asterix en de Helvetiërs
- Finnish: Asterix ja alppikukka (Asterix and the Edelweiss, or, more literally, "Asterix and the Flower of the Alps")
- German: Asterix bei den Schweizern
- Greek: Ο Αστερίξ στους Ελβετούς
- Íslenska: Ástríkur í Heilvitalandi
- Italian: Asterix e gli Elvezi
- Norwegian: Asterix i Alpene (Asterix in the Alps)
- Polish: Asteriks u Helwetów
- Portuguese: Astérix entre os Helvécios
- Spanish: Astérix en Helvecia
- Swedish: Asterix i Alperna
- Turkish: Asteriks İsviçre'de