|Title||Asterix and the Great Divide (1980)|
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Asterix and the Great Divide is the twenty-fifth volume of the Asterix comic book series. It was first published in 1980.
In a village similar to Asterix’s, two rival chiefs, Cleverdix and Majestix, have been elected. Through various incidents, a ditch has been dug through the village dividing it into the party of the left (led by Cleverdix) and the party of the right (ruled by Majestix). Both men contest the leadership of the entire village. The two sides regularly show their dislike for each other.
Histrionix, the son of Cleverdix, and Melodrama, the daughter of Majestix, are the only villagers who do not agree with the fight, and constantly try to get their fathers to stop fighting. To add a twist to the plot, Majestix’s mind is poisoned by his evil advisor Codfix.
After a failed attempt by both chieftains to convince the other side to join them, Codfix comes up with an idea: in exchange for Melodrama’s hand in marriage, he will invite the Roman troops to help Majestix become chief of the whole village (in fact, he plans to overthrow Majestix and become chief himself). However, Melodrama overhears the conversation, and gets her nurse, Angelica, to arrange a meeting with Histrionix.
That night, Melodrama reveals the plan to Histrionix (whom she is in love with and vice-versa), who alerts his father. Cleverdix tells his son to go to the village of Vitalstatistix, who fought alongside him at Alesia, and get help.
Arriving at the village, Histrionix explains the problem to Vitalstatistix, who agrees to send Asterix and Obelix to help. As the Romans have been quiet lately, Getafix decides to go too.
Meanwhile, at the Roman camp near the divided village, the legionaries are tired of doing their own work and want slaves. Codfix arrives, and convinces the centurion to help by telling him his camp can have the defeated villagers as slaves.
When the Romans arrive, however, Majestix refuses to let them take any villager, left or right, as slaves. Enraged, the centurion takes Majestix and his men as slaves.
Asterix, Obelix and Getafix go to the camp and claim to be slaves. A bit of trouble with the guard over the word “fat” leads to the demonstration of another of Getafix’s potions: an amazing cure-all elixir, which restores the subject to full health with the only apparent side-effect being a loss of short-term memory.
Inside the camp, Getafix makes the magic potion in the guise of soup. When the suspicious centurion orders them to test it, they give some to the prisoners, enabling them to escape. Back at the village, Getafix makes more potion, and they decide to keep it on neutral ground – a house specifically in the middle of the village, with the ditch cutting directly between it – with Asterix guarding it.
However, Getafix has left the elixir near the Roman camp. Codfix takes it, and uses it to cure the Romans. That night, he sneaks back into the camp (pretending to want to ask for forgiveness), knocks out Asterix and takes the potion.
The next morning, the Romans take the potion and head to the village. However, as they had taken the potion after the elixir, the mixture of the two first causes them to swell up like balloons, and then shrink. With Dogmatix apparently interested in eating them, they are scared back to their camp after promising to never bother the village again.
When the villagers return to the village, Majestix learns that Codfix has kidnapped Melodrama. Histrionix goes after him, accompanied by Asterix and Obelix.
Codfix is captured by the pirates, who are then attacked by the Gauls. Having taken some magic potion to counter Codfix’s current strength, Histrionix defeats Codfix in armed combat, and knocks him into the Roman camp, where he is made a slave.
Back at the village, the chieftains agree to end the matter once and for all in a fight between them. The last man standing is chief of the whole village. When morning comes, neither has lost, so Asterix tell the villagers to make Histrionix chief, with Melodrama as his wise and beautiful wife.
The villagers divert the course of the river, filling in the ditch. 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 obviously based on Romeo and Juliet.
- 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 story-wise it departs relatively strongly from the previous volumes; consequently, it was hailed by some who thought the series had become stale, but reviled by others who thought it was not true 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 referred to smell of fish, and is even called a shoal of fish by Histrionix. His pale complexion and scale mail also provide a more physical expression to this image. With his ugly fish-like face, he was the first character in Asterix to be given a slightly anthropomorphic appearance. He is the stereotype of a leader’s right-hand and advisor who appears to be loyal but is really out for his own agenda — 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.
- Histronix and Melodrama greatly resemble Tragicomix and Panacea.
- Uderzo intended The Great Divide to be 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, as in good relations) in the French version, a reference to the bridge in Paris of the same name.
In other languages
Apart from common translations, the volume was also translated into Viennese dialect (by Willi Resetarits), as “Da grosse Grobn” and into the Finnish Savo dialect as “Luaksolaesten lempi” (“Love among the valley people”).
- Catalan: La gran rasa
- Czech: Asterix a Velký příkop
- Dutch: De broedertwist
- Finnish: Syvä kuilu
- Frisian: De Grutte Kleau
- German: Der große Graben
- Schwäbisch: Dr große Graba
- Greek: Η μεγάλη τάφρος
- Hebrew: הכפר החצוי
- Italian: Asterix e il grande fossato
- 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