Fattypuffs and Thinifers
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2007)|
|Fattypuffs and Thinifers|
Title page of original French edition
|Original title||Patapoufs et Filifers|
|Published in English||1940|
Fattypuffs and Thinifers (ISBN 1903252075) is a translation of the French children's book Patapoufs et Filifers written in 1930 by André Maurois. It concerns the imaginary underground land of the fat and congenial Fattypuffs and the thin and irritable Thinifers, which is visited by the Double brothers, the plump Edmund and the thin Terry. Fattypuffs and Thinifers do not mix, and their respective countries are on the verge of war when Edmund and Terry make their visit.
Edmund and Terry find the entrance through the Twin Rock, where a long escalator descends into the bowels of the earth. The underground region is illuminated by large balloons filled with a blue, dazzling gas, which float in the underground sky.
At the bottom of the escalator a narrow quay, Surface-by-the-Sea, borders a large gulf. Edmund and Terry are separated here. Edmund is taken to Fattyborough, the capital of the Fattypuff kingdom, on the ship Fattiport, while Terry is ordered to board the steel vessel Thiniport for Thiniville, capital of the Thinifer Republic.
Edmund soon assumes an important position in the administration of Fattypuff, whose inhabitants are friendly, happy, and who live only for drinking and eating. Everything there is round and cushioned; the architecture is domes and baroque. Terry also rises through the ranks quickly in the land of the Thinifers, workaholics all, who scarcely eat, and who rush to and from their country, which is all high, sharp spires and thin railway cars.
For centuries Fattypuffs and Thinifers have been mortal enemies, having fought one another already in the War of the Captive Armies. Their main source of tension lies over ownership of an island in the gulf that separates the countries, and what to call it - the Fattypuffs prefer "Fattyfer," the Thinifers "Thinipuff." Negotiations, in which Edmund and Terry participate, are unsuccessful, and the countries go to war. The Thinifers emerge as the victors, and annex the Fattypuff kingdom.
The consequences of this annexation are unexpected. Many soldiers of the occupying army of the Thinifers begin to marry Fattypuff girls, and return to their homeland with affection for the country that they conquered. The Thinifers begin to adopt Fattypuff cuisine, habits, and attitudes. Consequently, the Thinifer president proclaims that the two peoples form a new nation, the United States of the Underground. King Plumpapuff of the Fattypuffs is made constitutional sovereign, while the Thinifer president is made his chancellor. All distinctions by weight are abolished. A toponymic compromise is reached: the island of Fattyfer-Thinipuff is called Peachblossom Island.
Edmund and Terry are allowed to return home, where their father has been looking for them at the base of the Twin Rock. They spent ten months underground, but only an hour has passed on the surface.
Commentators such as George Owen  interpret the book as an allegory, with the pleasure-loving Patapoufs and their love of gourmet food standing for France, the hyperactive Filifers representing Germany with the militaristic Prussian traditions, and the disputed island being Alsace-Lorraine.
In this light the book can be seen as anticipating the Occupation of France by Germany in 1940. And though that occupation was far more harsh than the one depicted by Maurois (the book was written at the time of the Weimar Republic, before the Nazi takeover), the eventual reconciliation and formation of the United States of the Underground can be seen as anticipating the creation of the European Union.
- George Owen, "Twentieth Century Political and Social Allegories", Chapter 3 ("The Inter-war Years")