Asterix in Corsica (French: "Asterix en Corse") is the twentieth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote issues 687-708 in 1973. It is the best-selling title in the history of the series, owing to its sales in the French market, but is one of the lowest-selling titles in the English language.
In most editions of this book the map that is shown before the story begins does not present Gaul and a close-up of the village with the four surrounding Roman camps. Instead the reader is shown a map of Corsica and a multiple of camps around the coast-line.
The story begins with a banquet celebrating the anniversary of Vercingetorix's victory at the Battle of Gergovia. As part of the celebrations, the indomitable Gauls attack the local Roman camps. As a result, most of the Roman soldiers go on special manoeuvres to avoid the punch-up.
On this particular year various people who have helped the Gauls against the Romans in previous books have been invited along with their wives (this may be because this was the last story published in Pilote magazine). They include:
- Petitsuix from Helvetia (Asterix in Switzerland),
- Huevos Y Bacon and son Pepe from Hispania (Asterix in Spain),
- Instantmix, the Gaulish restaurateur from Rome (Asterix the Gladiator),
- Anticlimax from Britain alongside Dipsomaniax the tavern-keeper, McAnix the Scotsman, O'veroptimistix the Irishman, and Chief Mykingdomforanos (Asterix in Britain),
- Drinklikafix of Massalia, Jellibabix of Lugdunum, Seniorservix from Gesocribatum (Asterix and the Banquet),
- and Winesanspirix and his wife from Gergovia (Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield).
The Roman camp of Totorum, too, has visitors: three Roman soldiers escorting the Corsican leader Boneywasawarriorwayayix, exiled by Praetor Perfidius. He is left to spend the night in the Centurion's tent, to its owner's dismay. While the other camps are deserted, the Romans of Totorum have no option but to stay and be decimated by the Gauls and their friends, who discover Boneywasawarriorwayayix awakening from a long siesta.
The proud Boneywasawarriorwayayix attends the Gaulish banquet and leaves the next day for Corsica with Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix accompanying him. At Massalia, he hires a ship crewed by none other than Captain Redbeard and his motley muddle of pirates. Although the pirates agree to transport the Corsican and his three companions, their real plan is to strip them of wealth and make them walk the plank halfway to Corsica.
When the passengers go aboard it is too dark for the captain and the Gauls to recognise each other. As the pirates are about to carry out their plan, the African lookout recognizes "The Gau... The Gaugau..." and, even though the subjects of their fear are still asleep, the entire crew of pirates vacates the ship in a rowboat.
The following morning the passengers awake to find to their astonishment that the ship is deserted. Boneywasawarriorwayayix then invites the Gauls to share a pungent Corsican cheese. Not used to the strong smell, they feel unwell, but then the Corsican realises that they are on the very coast of his native island, abandons the cheese and excitedly swims ashore.
The arrival of the three men and dog is noticed by a Roman patrol. The Romans go to investigate the ship for anything suspicious, but find nothing. As they leave, the pirates arrive to conduct their own search. Unfortunately, the presence of a burning torch causes the fumes from the Corsican cheese to explode, sinking the ship.
A young Roman called Courtingdisastus (courting disasters) captures the Pirate Chief and takes him as a prisoner before Praetor Perfidius in the Roman city of Aleria. From him the Romans learn that Boneywasawarriorwayayix, a known revolutionary leader, has returned from exile. Perfidius announces that he must be recaught and appoints Courtingdisastus leader of the party sent to recapture Boneywasawarriorwayayix. But in fact Perfidius has few illusions that the mission will be successful — the Corsican leader was captured by chance and ordering his rearrest is merely for appearance's sake. Perfidius intends to leave Corsica, leaving his men in the lurch and sailing away in the pirate ship with all the loot he has purloined from the Corsicans.
Courtingdisastus and his men go to Boneywasawarriorwayayix' village, but are faced by his second-in-command Carferrix. Carferrix' intimidating attitude unnerves Courtingdisastus who eventually flees. Meanwhile the Corsican leader and the Gauls travel through a nearly impenetrable forest to a rendezvous where several clan chieftains are to gather and plan their attack on Aleria, where the Praetor is busy gathering loot, including food, wine and treasure to take back to Caesar in Rome.
The attack proceeds before Perfidius can make his escape. Boneywasawarriorwayayix then makes a proud and defiant speech stating that Corsica will not be ruled by an Emperor unless he is a Corsican himself.
As well as the victory over the Romans, a vendetta between the clans of Boneywasawarriorwayayix and Olabellamargaritix, fought over various but complicated age-old issues, is settled by the diplomatic Asterix; though, when the Gauls leave, there are strong hints that other Corsican chieftains will resume the feud with Olabellamargaritix even if Boneywasawarriorwayayix has called his off.
The Gauls return home with fond memories of their trip.
- Throughout the album the stereotypical laziness of the Corsicans is satirized, often in combination with their well known siesta. This, however, has much to do with the hot climate on the island.
- The Corsican feeling of honor and respect is satirized several times, just like the cliché that they are easily vexed.
- In the original French version Boneywasawarriorwayayix is called Ocatarinetabellachitchix. Asterix at one points pronounces his name incorrectly as "Omarinella...". Both are songs by Corsican singer Tino Rossi: "Tchi-Tchi" and "Marinella". Further in the comic strip the secret password the Gauls need to give in order to get on the ship that will bring them to Corsica is also a reference to Rossi. "Vieni vieni" (in the French version) is also a song by Rossi.
- The sentence about "the urns filled before the elections" (page 25) is a reference to the political scandals in Corsica due to election frauds.
- The vendetta, feuds and fights between different Corsican clans become more apparent from page 26 onwards. The knives they use are authentic vendetta knives. (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:Vendetta_knife01.jpg)
- Wild pigs, chestnuts (used in many dishes and drinks on the island), old people sitting on benches commenting on things happening in their environment and the notorious smell of Corsican cheese are referenced.
- The famous bushes (maquis) where in past centuries many highwaymen and Corsican nationalists hid are referenced. It is also notorious as a place where tourists easily get lost.
- The Corsican emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is referenced in:
- The English name for Ocatarinetabellachitchix: "Boneywasawarriorwayayix", which is a reference to 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 Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.)
- Ocatarinetabellachitchix discovers Corsica is nearby by tasting the smell. Napoleon once said he could recognize his island with his eyes closed, just by smelling its scent. Even during his exile in Elba he could still remember the scent.
- Asterix's remark that the Corsicans have "une grande armée" ("a large army"- Napoleon's army was nicknamed that way)
- Ocatarinetabellachitchix's remark that "le sommeil d'Osterlix" is very famous in their country (Osterlix is a Corsican clan leader in the album. "Le sommeil" means "the sleep". The sentence is a pun on "Le soleil d' Austerlitz" ("The sun of Austerlitz", named after Napoleon's famous victory in the Battle of Austerlitz)
- And finally in Ocatarinetabellachitchix' speech towards Perfidius where he strikes the famous Napoleon pose and says "that Corsicans will only accept an emperor if he's Corsican".
- Cacofonix is delighted to welcome Instantmix of Asterix the Gladiator who says he wanted to hear the sound of his voice again. In the story itself they never actually met. Perhaps a more appropriate character would have been Justforkix of Asterix and the Normans who really did enjoy Cacofonix's music.
- Roman Centurion Hippopotamus, of the camp where Boneywasawarriorwayayix is held, is based on Goscinny and Uderzo's friend Pierre Tchernia who also appeared in other stories.
- The stereotypes of Corsicans seen in the album (pride, vendetta, feuds, old men sitting and commenting, grim glare) are thought to apply also to the Cretans; Greek editions Mamouthcomix made a special translation of the album in the Cretan Greek. In original Serbian edition of the episode, Corsicans speak in typical dialect of Montenegro, for similar reasons.
- The four old men who sit outside the village and Aleria during the battle are similar to each other (maybe brothers) and only vary in terms of height. The Daltons, villains of the popular Western comic series Lucky Luke (which Goscinny also worked on), are also similar to each other, their only differences being their height: from Joe who is small to Averell who is tall. The Daltons, however, are much younger, villainous and vary in intelligence as well as size, while the four old Corsicans are just everyday gossips who appear to be similar in every way but height.