Asterix and the Great Divide
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|Asterix and the Great Divide
(Le Grand Fossé)
|Date of publication||1980|
|Preceded by||Asterix in Belgium|
|Followed by||Asterix and the Black Gold|
In a village similar to Asterix's, two rival chiefs, Cleverdix and Majestix, have been elected and a ditch dug through the village, dividing it into the party of the left (led by Cleverdix) and the party of the right (ruled by Majestix), which contest the leadership of the entire village. Histrionix, the son of Cleverdix, and Melodrama, the daughter of Majestix, are the only villagers who do not agree with the fight. After a failed attempt by both chieftains to persuade the other side, Majestix's advisor Codfix offers to invite the local Roman garrison in exchange for Melodrama's hand in marriage (while planning secretly to overthrow Majestix and become chief himself).
Melodrama reveals this plan to Histrionix, who alerts his father; whereupon Cleverdix directs him to Vitalstatistix, who sends Asterix and Obelix, accompanied by Getafix. Codfix persuades the Roman centurion by the offer of Cleverdix's followers in slavery to the soldiers; but Majestix refuses to concede any villager, left or right, as slaves. Enraged, the centurion imprisons Majestix and his followers. Exploiting the local Romans' ignorance of their identities, Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix infiltrate the Romans' camp, to set the prisoners free. A quarrel with the Roman sentinel leads to the demonstration of another of Getafix's potions, which restores the subject to full health while erasing his memory of the injury necessitating it.
Inside the camp, Getafix makes his usual magic potion in the guise of soup. When the suspicious centurion orders them to test it for poison, they give it to the prisoners, enabling them to free themselves and defeat the Romans. At the village, Getafix makes more potion, and places it at a house spanning the ditch, with Asterix on watch. With Getafix having left his curative 'elixir' near the Roman camp, Codfix uses it to cure the Romans and exploits their amnesia to claim that the Gauls attacked the Romans unprovoked. That night, he returns to his village and seizes the potion, which (after having drunk it himself) he conveys to the Romans.
In the next day's battle, the mixture of the two drinks causes the Romans to inflate like balloons, and then shrink to a size smaller than blades of grass. Terrified by this transformation, they return to their camp and promise to leave the local Gauls in peace. At the village, Majestix learns that Codfix has kidnapped Melodrama for a ransom of 100 pounds of gold; whereupon Histrionix goes after him, accompanied by Asterix and Obelix.
Codfix, escaping via river with Melodrama, is captured by the series' recurrent pirates, to whom Codfix offers a quarter share in the ransom. They are then attacked by the Gauls. Having taken some magic potion to counter Codfix's current strength, Histrionix duels Codfix until Codfix's dose of potion ceases effect, and thereupon strikes him into the Roman camp. At the village, the chieftains agree to single combat for control of the whole village; but fight to a draw overnight, whereupon Asterix, as referee, declares Histrionix chief instead. The villagers then divert the nearby river, filling the ditch. Codfix is shown briefly as the Romans' sole drudge. Histrionix and Melodrama are married, and Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix return home.
- An audiobook of Asterix and the Great Divide adapted by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge and narrated by Willie Rushton was released on Hodder and Stoughton's Hodder Children's Audio in 1987.
- Histrionix and Melodrama are based on Romeo and Juliet. They also greatly resemble Tragicomix and Panacea.
- This was the first volume of the series that was designed and written by Albert Uderzo alone, after the death of his long-time collaborator René Goscinny, and published by his own company, "Editions Albert René". Both stylistically and in story it departs from the previous volumes; consequently, it was hailed by some who thought the series had become stale, but reviled by others who thought it untrue to the spirit of the series. The following volumes followed a more balanced line between the style of the earlier volumes and that of Asterix and the Great Divide.
- Codfix is often stated to smell of fish, and is even called a "shoal of fish" by Histrionix. His pale, deformed face and scale mail also provide expression of this image. He is the stereotype of a leader's right-hand advisor who appears loyal but plots against his master — in ways similar to the popular view of Louis XIII of France and Cardinal Richelieu; King Théoden and Gríma Wormtongue; or Goscinny's Caliph Haroun El Poussah and Grand Vizier Iznogoud; or the later Asterix characters Vizier Hoodunnit and Rajah Watzit.
- Uderzo intended the Great Divide as a metaphor and condemnation of the Berlin Wall.
- The bridge built over the now water-filled ditch is named "Pont de la Concorde" (Concord Bridge) in the French version: a reference to the bridge in Paris of the same name.
- This volume marks the first of only two occasions (the other being in Asterix and the Missing Scroll) that Getafix is seen consuming his magic potion. In Asterix and Obelix All at Sea it's mentioned he partook some out of sight; but here he is shown in the act.
- The English name of the chief of the right-side part of the divided village, Majestix, is what Vitalstatistix is named in Norwegian, German, Greek, Estonian, and Swedish.
In other languages
Apart from common translations, the volume was also translated into Viennese dialect (by Willi Resetarits), as "Da grosse Grobn", Swissgerman as '"Dr gross Grabe"' and into the Finnish Savo dialect as "Luaksolaesten lempi" ("Love among the valley people").
- Catalan: La gran rasa
- Croatian: Razdvojeno selo (Separated village)
- Czech: Asterix a Velký příkop
- Dutch: De broedertwist
- Finnish: Syvä kuilu
- Frisian: De Grutte Kleau
- German: Der große Graben
- Hessisch (Hessian): Hibbe un dribbe
- Schwäbisch (Swabian): Dr große Graba
- Schweizerdeutsch (Swissgerman): Dr gross Grabe
- Wienerisch (Viennese): Da grosse Grobn
- Greek: Η μεγάλη τάφρος
- Hebrew: הכפר החצוי
- Indonesian: "Asterix dan Desa Belah Tengah"
- Italian: Asterix e il grande fossato
- Latin: Fossa alta
- Mirandese: L Galaton
- Norwegian: Borgerkrigen (The civil war)
- Portuguese: O grande Fosso
- Polish: Wielki rów
- Spanish: Asterix y la Gran Zanja
- Serbian: Астерикс и велика подела
- Swedish: Det stora bygrälet
- Turkish: Büyük Hendek