The Fellowship of the Book

In praise of Anthea Bell…

A Translator’s View

What a great mind!!!

One language to perceive all, one language to guide them,

One language to enchant them all, and in the magic bind them…





By Toutatis! By Rosmerta!!


In this Indian summer that can blister the skin off your back, if I were to meet Prolix, the eponymous soothsayer in Asterix, and ask him about any impending dust storm, if nothing else, he might say, ‘ The monsoons are coming…’ I just might believe him too like Impedimenta:)

My little girl giggles as she reads the comic. I remember the hours my brother and I spent as children, laughing away at the perfect puns ( that fat centurion just had to be named Voluptous Arteriosclerosus, right?), admiring the impeccable drawings ( look at  Cacofonix  all tied up during the banquet…pssst, quiz question- which was the only Asterix comic in which he got to feast, eh?), learning about the whole world from a book of 50 odd pages!

Now that I am into translations, I check the small print and the details . I so deeply admire the gorgeous translation in English made available by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge from Rene Goscinny’s original French (Le Devin became Asterix and the Soothsayer) with Albert Uderzo’s magnificent sketches.

Aquarium, Laudanum, Compendium and  Totorum ( yup, tot o’ rum it is!) – certain pleasures are life long. And even the heat cannot take away the feeling of bliss when  the children carry on with the laughter.

‘Amma, did he actually say, that is a load of tripe punning on the entrails ?’

‘ You noticed that, did you? Good for you!’

God bless the simple joys of life.