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Recap / Asterix in Corsica

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This time, the satire concerns France's Mediterranean island.

Each year, the Gaulish village celebrates the anniversary of the victory over the Romans at Gergovia by storming one of the local Roman camps and bashing in everyone they see. In this, the twentieth Asterix book, they have invited friends from all over Europe as seen in past adventures to join in this custom.

The Romans, however, are now wise to the Gauls' chosen method of celebration, and leave on manoeuvres in the surrounding countryside until the celebrations end. However, the Totorum garrison's attempt to leave is thwarted when the captured Corsican chieftain Boneywasawarriorwayayix is delivered to the camp by his three escorts, where he is to be left overnight. Totorum centurion Hippopotamus, terrified of facing the Gauls and their friends, tries unbinding the Corsican and telling him he is free to leave - however, he's in the middle of his siesta, and is going nowhere until he's had his rest. The Gauls and their friends storm the camp, and are amazed to discover the Corsican chieftain just waking up from his siesta.

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Boneywasawarriorwayayix is invited to join the celebratory banquet, after which he plans to return to Corsica. Asterix and Obelix go with him to learn the ways of the Corsicans, and they head south to Massilia and charter a boat. The boat happens to belong to Redbeard and his pirate band, who don't realise their passengers include Asterix and Obelix until they have put out to sea, at which point they abandon ship.

The following morning, Boneywasawarriorwayayix invites the Gauls to share his Corsican cheese, but they are put off by its powerful smell. The Corsican chieftain is soon distracted by the realisation that they are just off the shores of Corsica, and he leaves the cheese behind, dives overboard, and swims to shore with Asterix and Obelix. Their arrival triggers suspicions in a local Roman patrol, but they find nothing when they search Redbeard's ship. Redbeard and his crew return shortly afterward, and when the captain grabs a torch to investigate the smell coming from below deck, the ship is blown to pieces.

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Redbeard is captured and taken to the town of Aleria by overeager legionary Courtingdisastus, who presents him to the local Praetor (governor), Perfidius. The Praetor is horrified to hear that Boneywasawarriorwayayix has returned, knowing that his presence will energise the Corsicans to re-take the loot he has confiscated from them for Rome (the reason he was captured and exiled to begin with), and he orders Courtingdisastus and ten "volunteers" to re-capture the chieftain. Meanwhile, certain that the mission is doomed to failure, he secretly makes plans to load the loot onto a boat and flee to Rome.

Asterix and Obelix arrive in Boneywasawarriorwayayix's village, where they learn of the internal strife among the Corsicans caused by vendettas... even though most of the villagers are too young to remember what started the vendettas, they know it's serious enough to keep fighting them. Courtingdisastus' party arrives to re-take the chieftain, but their leader makes the mistake of asking for information from Chipolata, the sister of Boneywasawarriorwayayix's second-in-command Carferrix. Carferrix is fiercely protective of his sister's honour, and considers even talking to her without his permission a slight against it; the Romans are terrified into leaving.

Meanwhile, Boneywasawarriorwayayix and the Gauls make their way through the maquis (the dense Corsican forests, in which it is notoriously easy to get completely lost) to a meeting of Corsican chieftains to discuss temporarily setting aside their differences (particularly Boneywasawarriorwayayix's long-running feud with rival chieftain Olabellamargaritix) to unite against their common enemy: the Romans. They plan to attack Aleria to retrieve the loot the praetor has confiscated from them. Perfidius' attempt to load the loot onto a boat falls apart when he recruits a group of Corsicans to do the heavy lifting, not reckoning on their laziness (in twenty minutes, all they have loaded is a tiny amphora), and the other Romans soon discover his deception. He is therefore still in Aleria when the Corsicans and their Armorican guests descend upon it to recover their loot.

Boneywasawarriorwayayix makes a defiant speech to the defeated Perfidius, telling him that Corsicans will never bow to an emperor unless he is another Corsican. The common enemy defeated, the chieftain seems about to resume his feud with Olabellamargaritix until Asterix intervenes and persuades them to settle the fight peacefully (though it is implied the peace between the rival Corsican chieftains may prove short-lived). The Corsicans and their guests celebrate their victory over the Romans with a feast, after which Asterix and Obelix return to their village for the book's third celebratory banquet.


Tropes:

  • Big Brother Instinct: One Corsican is very protective of his sister, who should be treated with respect.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Perfidius delivers one to Salamix when he keeps giving away more and more details about the escape plan.
  • Call-Forward: At one point, Boneywasawarriorwayayix declares that Corsica will never obey an emperor, unless he were a fellow Corsican.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Some Corsican prisoners are expected to help the Roman governor secretly escape from the island by ship by loading all his possessions aboard. After a long while one of them calmly walks to the ship carrying a tiny amphora. The governor panics and says that by keeping this tempo it will take years before everything is loaded into the ship and they have to leave before the sun rises! The Corsican returns and tells his comrades that there's "no need to hurry, because we have years to finish the job and we don't have work during daytime." Which prompts another Corsican to reply his cousin has a similar job in the Civil Service.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The celebration in the first part of the book brings back friends from a wide range of earlier Asterix adventures, and includes numerous references to those stories. In order of arrival:
    • Petitsuix, the Helvetian innkeeper from Asterix in Switzerland.
    • Huevos y Bacon, father and son, leaders of the lone Hispanian holdout village against the Romans from Asterix in Spain.
    • Instantmix, the Rome-based Gaulish restaurateur from Asterix the Gladiator.
    • From Asterix in Britain, Asterix's cousin once removed Anticlimax, Hibernian chieftain O'Veroptimistix, Caledonian chieftain McAnix, Anticlimax's village chieftain Mykingdomforanos, and British innkeeper Dipsomaniax.
    • From Asterix and the Banquet, resistance leader Jellibabix from Lugdunum (Lyon), innkeeper Drinklikafix from Massilia (Marseilles), and boat captain Seniorservix from Gesocribatum (Le Conquet).
    • Winesanspirix, the Arvernian innkeeper from Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield.
  • Culture Clash: Several misunderstandings occur because the Corsicans assume certain foreigners show no respect to them or their sisters.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The Corsican vendettas, unfortunately Truth in Television, are referenced. Asterix manages to make two Corsican chiefs become friends again after centuries of vendetta. Unfortunately, as they leave the village another old vendetta between two other Corsicans is continued.
  • Death Glare: The Corscians are masters of the death glare.
    • When Carferrix gives Courtingdisastus a death glare for daring to talk to his sister Chipolata, the Roman dries up completely.
    • When the chieftains make squealing noises as passwords and Obelix asks about that last one:
      Chieftain: Can't tell the difference between a clan chieftain and a wild pig? [death glare]
      Obelix: I don't know, I've never eaten a Corsican chieftain, and please stop looking at me like that, you're giving me a headache.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The Roman soldiers discover Perfidus about to abscond. So they literally put the corrupt jerk in the front lines.
  • Easy Amnesia: Salamix went Roman went he got hit on the head, then goes back to Corsican when he gets hit again during the battle.
  • Excuse Plot: In most of the previous "Asterix and Obelix go on a journey" albums, they are either on a rescue mission (Gladiator, Legionary) or fetch quest (Golden Sickle, Banquet, Switzerland, Laurel Wreath), helping a friend in need (Cleopatra, Britain), or escorting a fellow villager or child (Goths, Chieftain's Shield, Spain). There's no real reason for them to go back to Corsica with Boneywasawarriorwayayix — he's perfectly capable of getting back without their aid — but Vitalstatistix suggests they go along to learn about Corsican customs, and Goscinny and Uderzo needed something to justify turning their satirical eyes to the island off France's south coast.
  • Foreign Queasine:
    • As in most stories featuring British characters, Goscinny and Uderzo poke fun at British cuisine's perceived overreliance on boiling the flavour out of anything and everything; as the wives of the international visitors chat amongst themselves, Huevos y Bacon's wife says she uses olive oil for her cooking, while one of the British guests' wives says she uses hot water instead.
    • Boneywasawarriorwayayix swears by Corsican cheese; the other characters would sooner swear at it. Asterix and Obelix have to leave the room when the cheese is unwrapped, Dogmatix faints at the smell, and when Redbeard goes below deck with a lit torch to investigate the strange smell after finding the ship deserted upon his crew's return, it causes the whole ship to explode in a massive fireball (how Perfidus realizes it was indeed Corsican cheese).
  • Generation Xerox: Apparently the sons of Unhygienix the fishmonger and Fulliautomatix the blacksmith are just as bitter rivals as their fathers, with the freshness (or lack thereof) of Unhygienix's fish representing a Berserk Button for his son as well.
  • Greek Chorus: The four old guys on the log/Roman pillar give a running commentary on the goings-on throughout the book, particularly the climactic final battle (which mostly happens off panel).
  • Historical In-Joke:
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Corsican legionary Salamix is utterly terrible at keeping a secret, telling some of his fellow legionaries directly that he was told not to tell anyone about Perfidius' plan to put the loot taken from the Corsicans onto a galley so that they could escape to Rome and leave the rest of the soldiers to face the music when the Corsicans attack en masse to retrieve the loot.
  • Knife Nut: The Corsicans are quick to draw flick knives on anyone they perceive as having insulted them; Boneywasawarriorwayayix and Olabellamargaritix are almost unable to have a conversation without first drawing their knives and pointing them at each other.
  • Lazy Bum: A lot of jokes are made about the stereotypical image that all Corsicans are lazy. For example: a druid is seen napping in the grass and described as collecting mistletoe from trees by waiting until it drops from the trees. Even the Roman soldiers stationed on Corsica are sloppy and take their time in investigating stuff.
  • Loophole Abuse: Obelix is told he cannot take Dogmatix on the journey to Corsica. However, seeing Getafix giving Boneywasawarriorwayayix a gourd of magic potion as a gift, he decides to "give" Dogmatix to the Corsican as a gift as well. At the end of the book, he is "given" Dogmatix back as a token of thanks for his help in defeating the Romans.
  • Lost in Translation: French audiences would have immediately recognised the parade of Corsican stereotypes on display in this album, in which most Corsicans are lazy, work-shy, quick to anger over generations-old vendettas the cause of which they can't actually remember (and always with a vendetta knife at the ready to defend their honour), and fond of cheese the smell of which is enough to knock out an elephant. To readers outside France, however, these stereotypes mean nothing. The plethora of references to Corsican native Napoleon Bonaparte would also have gone over the heads of most readers outside France.note 
  • Meaningful Name: As is typical for the Asterix series.
    • The druid from Boneywasawarriorwayayix's village is named Lethargix. His preferred method of gathering mistletoe is to lounge under a tree and wait for the mistletoe to fall out of it.
    • The Praetor, Perfidius, is as deceitful and untrustworthy (that is to say, perfidious) as his name suggests.
    • The overly gung-ho legionary Courtingdisastus is generally doing just that, courting disaster through foolhardiness and lack of appreciation of just how easily angered the Corsicans can be, and how dangerous they are when angered.
  • Morton's Fork: Courtingdisastus is talking with Carferrix, the latter is angry because Courtingdisastus spoke with his sister. Courtingdisastus tries to defuse the situation by claiming he is not interested in Chipolata, but Carferrix takes it to mean Courtingdisastus dislikes Chipolata, getting angry (and clearly ready to do violence). When Courtingdisastus replies that he does like her, Carferrix gets even angrier, and threatens to kill the Romans.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Courtingdisastus, who's referred to by other characters as a newbie, volunteered to be stationed in Corsica and approaches his job with far more eagerness than the other Romans. The Romans think he's plain crazy and he soon discovers he's way in over his head when he actually has to deal with Corsicans.
  • National Stereotypes: The Corsicans are depicted as being proud, easily vexed and lazy. They are all involved in vendettas and find honor and respect very important.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Romans are assigned to check whether Boneywasawarriorwayayix is in the Corsican village. He knocks on the door of one of the houses and a Corsican woman opens the door. First the Roman is very strict and tells her he wants to investigate the place, but halfway his explanation one of the Corsicans (her brother) tells her to get back inside and decides to listen to his speech instead. As he gives him the Death Glare the Roman finally shuts up in total fright. The Corsican then tells him: "You spoke to my sister." The Roman tries to be nice and says: "Oh... eh... really? I didn't know." Suddenly the Corsican draws a knife and calmly tells the Roman soldier: "I don't like people talking to my sister", causing the Roman and all his fellow legionaries to realize they made a terrible mistake by dropping by this particular house.
  • Only Sane Man: Played with; Courtingdisastus is actually a fairly sane, competent legionary, compared to the collection of screw-ups who are posted on Corsica. Unfortunately, his approach is really not suited to the realities of dealing with the Corsicans.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica:
    • How most of the legionaries posted to Corsica ended up there. Courtingdisastus is the only one who asked to be posted there; the rest - including the small detachment of competent legionaries stationed in the Roman city of Aleria - were sent there as punishment for various transgressions, or woke up there after a night of heavy drinking with no memory of how they got there (and no way to leave again). It's also clear that Roman control is only limited to the coast, with the Romans seldom even sending patrols to the interior. This is hinted at in the map of Corsica in the beginning of the book, where all the Roman forts are concentrated on the coastline, with no forts in the interior.
    • Perfidius remarks that if he doesn't get the situation under control, Caesar will have him sent to one of the four Legionary camps surrounding a certain village in Gaul.
  • Reference Overdosed: Several references to Corsica are made, including Corsican cheese, vendettas, wild pigs, chestnuts, the maquis bushes, Corsican singer Tino Rossi, Napoleon Bonaparte and Corsican election fraud scandals. As it turns out: old people sitting around on benches commenting on everything is Truth in Television in many Corsican villages.
  • Running Gag: Mispronouncing the name of Boneywasawarriorwayayix.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the original version Boneywasawarriorwayayix is called Ocatarinetabellachitchix, referencing the song "Tchi-Tchi" by Corsican singer Tino Rossi. At one point Asterix mispronounces his name as "Omarinella...", a reference to another Rossi song "Marinella". The secret password needed to get aboard the pirate's ship is "Vieni Vieni", also the name of a Rossi song. Cacofonix even says at one point: "Octarinetabellachitchix's name inspires me to write a song".
    • Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born in Corsica, is also referenced several times.
      • When Boneywasawarriorwayayix recognizes the smell of his homeland he knows that he is in Corsica. This is a reference to Napoleon who also claimed to recognize his island even with his eyes closed by just smelling its scent.
      • Later Asterix remarks that the Corsicans have a "large army" (the "Grande Armée" was the nickname of Napoleon's army).
      • When all the chieftains have arrived and made themselves known by grunting like a wild boar Boneywasawarriorwayayix says: "Ils sont tous là, mes grognards!" ("All my 'grunters' have arrived"). A "grognard" was the nickname for a soldier in Napoleon's army.
      • In the original French version Boneywasawarriorwayayix remarked that "le sommeil d' Osterlix" ("The sleep of Osterlix") is famous in his country. This is a pun of the stereotype that Corsicans are lazy and the "soleil d' Austerlitz" ("sun of Austerlitz"), named after Napoleon's famous victory in the Battle of Austerlitz.
      • After defeating the Romans Boneywasawarriorwayayix puts his hand underneath his clothing and one his chest à la Napoleon and says: "Corsicans will only accept an emperor if he's Corsican".
      • The English version adds two more references. Boneywasawarriorwayayix references the sea chanty "Boney was a warrior" about Napoleon. When Asterix mistakes his name in the English version he addresses him as "Wellingtonwasa...", a reference to Napoleon's British enemy the Duke of Wellington.
  • The Stoic: The Corsicans almost never display emotions (except for the odd flare-up of anger, when Boneywasawarriorwayayix realizes he's back in Corsica, or the reactions of all the Corsicans to Asterix's demand for Boneywasawarriorwayayix and Olabellamargaritix to cut off their argument). When Boneywasawarriorwayayix meets up with his friend Vermicellix in Massilia, they mention how delighted they are to see each other again... without so much as cracking a smile.
  • Super Speed: When the Romans flee the Corsican village.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Asterix and Obelix actually don't play that much of a part in this story, beyond rescuing Boneywasawarriorwayayix and helping him get back to Corsica. Once they arrive, the Corsicans soon organize and defeat the Romans in a Curb-Stomp Battle without even needing any magic potion to accomplish it, and Asterix's role is limited to just beating up a couple of Romans and solving the dispute between Boneywasawarriorwayayix and Olabellamargaritix.
  • Theme Naming: Most of the Corsicans are named for types of pasta, including Vermicellix, Tagliatellix, Spaghettix, Rigatonix, Lasagnix, and the Caledonian MacAronix. The two rival chieftains, Boneywasawarriorwayayix and Olabellamargaritix, meanwhile, are both named after lines from folk songs (the English sea shanty "Boney was a warrior, way yay ya" and the Spanish folksong "O la bella Margarita").
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Roman centurion to whom the overeager Courtingdisastus tries to report the strange goings-on that herald the Armoricans' arrival in Corsica. First, he brings the centurion to see Redbeard's recently abandoned ship (the pirates jumped ship when they discovered the Armoricans on board, while the Armoricans followed suit upon arriving in Corsica), and as he says, "There's a boat full of people coming!", the centurion shrugs this off with, "One at a time, tomorrow we return to make a report on that." Then as the pirates return to their ship, and a Corsican cheese causes it to explode...
    Centurion: A ship arrives, three men jump at sea, the ship gets empty, explodes, and other people come to land... what is wrong with that? I don't even see the need of a report.
  • Vacation Episode: Asterix and Obelix travel to Corsica. Here they travel just for their own entertainment, unlike other adventures where they have some sort of mission.
  • What an Idiot!: In-universe; the prefect orders the trumpet to sound lunchtime, with the first ten to arrive getting volunteered for a mission into the Corsican backcountry. The troops were still eating when the trumpet sounded.

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